THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Minute-less Mondays

By far the tightest day schedule-wise for me. Such is life, I’ll still squeeze every minute. Days like this push you to think smart. Yeah I know that is a stretch for me but bare with me.

Look for the light.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Did I accomplish all I had on my to do list. Not even close. Did I prioritize right? Probably not, but I did get some critical things done, yep.


I’m blessed with people that are close to me who run the gamete of the success spectrum. And I’m judging success in many different ways. From those who are very smart and have applied themselves at the highest levels matched with a great work ethic. All the way to those have gone through life on cruise control, do the least possible and even managed to coast through most of life unscathed because they have some smarts.

I’ve seen people overcome strong additions and face substantial medical challenges. I’ve seen people strike out on their own in the business world and be successful. I’ve watched people find faith and belief they never had know for decades before.

I’ve observed people struggle through relationships and end up very happy in the long run. I’ve also seen some end badly but people be the better for it.

I’ve watched families I thought would never have an issue fraction apart and some I thought might never be a family unit pull together. Watching people stick together and pull together and overcome together is a wonderful thing.

I’ve learned and used their strength to inspire some of my own trials. I’ve learned from their mistakes and tried not to repeat them, not successfully all the time. They have taught me to not give up. They have taught me forgiveness. They have taught me to think.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its a long ride to work each day. The ride home seems much shorter for some reason.
  • Gas stations will show you where it is expensive to live.
  • Sometimes the moon is almost as brilliant as the sun.

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Which way did they go

Which way did the fish go? That is what they may be asking themselves. Personally I”m wondering where the weekend went again. And to think of it where did my summer go? Before I go and get depressed already with the thought of cooler temps, I’ll look forward to the things of fall and the holiday season.

Which way did the fish go?
Photo by Mike Hartley

I mean it could be a great fall. The boys of summer are still playing ball and my favorite sport, basketball is about to crank up. Also the next 3 weeks will be full of color outside as the transition here in the northeast cranks up.

I also love the holidays and this will be a special one. I’ve got a week of vacation left so I have a lifeline when I need it. Maybe the holidays will bring us all together more and remind us we’re all on the same boat and we should get along.

Of course there is the possibility of foul weather. And I’m not dreading that because I’m not going to deal with it. In other words I’ll be working from home if it does come our way. I’m too old and tired for heroic trips to and from the office. Plus no one would even say thanks if I did make the effort so what would be the reason to do it?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can see my workbench again. Been a while.
  • I have boxed up my hammock. The last signs of summer disappear.
  • I hope to get a big smile out of two people on Tuesday.
  • Crossing my fingers this years flu shot works.

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Seeing my children leaves me feeling blessed. Each visit is like this wealth of joy I store up. When you don’t take things for granted, you can appreciate the importance of them easier.

I had no idea what type of parent I would be. I knew I was nervous and unprepared. Being a parent is a world of unknowns. It’s the most stressful and rewarding thing at the same time.

And now my grown children make me feel so wonderful as a father that all other accomplishments pale in comparison. And now the bonus reward of watching them pass on the love to their children.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got nothing left today because I have everything.
  • A wonderful day of baseball.
  • When you always look forward to the next day, your alive.
  • Finished a project to make someone else feel good.

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Let’s get rolling

A bright and early start this morning. Well, it’s not too bright, the sun hasn’t risen yet. But getting ready for a jam-packed day. It’s funny how the term jam-packed changes as one age. I hear my father and mother in law saying they have a packed schedule when there is one appointment on their plate that day.

Rolling along. Overlooking Howard County Conservancy.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even now in my early 60’s, I find a day with 5-10 things to do a full day. And I think back when I was in my 30’s and 40’s raising a family and working like a dog and active social life and I wonder how I crammed that all in?

And then there were the teens and 20’s where life was like a pinball machine where we just went from one thing to the next effortlessly. Well, I’m trying to regain that energy and enjoyment again.

When your enjoying life it’s fun cramming more stuff into the day. But it’s important to pick the right things and keep a balance. I do a lot of time-sharing. For instance, I rarely am able to just go out and spend time taking pictures. A majority is just out and about each day running errands or back and forth from work. Sometimes its events I attend. But rarely do I just get out to shoot.

So life is about utilizing opportunities. I feel like I have hundreds before me. At times in my life when I have been depressed, it seemed like there was none. Only chores and tasks to existing another day. I’m glad I was able to snap out of that. See cancer was good for something at least.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • First good night’s sleep I’ve gotten this week and it was great. I must have been a bit deprived because I spent 10 hours on the rack this morning. Missed all the games last night.
  • I’m not a fan of these 40-degree mornings.
  • A day with the granddaughter ahead has a smile on my face.
  • When financial interest takes over for basic rights of free speech we are in trouble.
  • I feel inclined to do two posts today being I was neglect yesterday.

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I like telling people I love them. I say it to my family all the time, especially the ones that can still hear me but I also say it to the ones I can’t get a response from anymore.

I’ve always been good at telling people my opinion. Not always with the best delivery but I do share my thoughts.

I have so much more to tell my children.

I’ve been neglect in telling some of my followers thank you. For you have given me confidence and a smile.

I’d like to tell some people where to get off but I’m getting too old to waste time doing that.

I keep telling myself to use more tags on my post other than photography and life. But sometimes I’m not too good at listening.

I’ve thought about telling some people what I think might help make them better but they are the, talk to the hand type, so again I’ll pass.

The color starting on the trees is telling me I will soon be freezing my behind off.

I saw someone telling someone where to go on the road the other day but they weren’t giving him directions.

I keep telling myself that one day I’ll be retired. Yeah, I tell myself a lot of stuff that hasn’t come true.

How we live our lives is always telling in the long run.

I hope I get the chance of telling my employer that I’m retiring someday instead of them telling me they no longer need my services.

Older people like telling stories. Some of these are very valuable lessons. It’s too bad you don’t see younger people hanging out in senior centers.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this?

Actions can be more telling than words.

It’s hard to accept people telling you things that hurt.

When it all breaks down, we can’t say the signals telling us weren’t a clear sign of problems.

Telling the truth is important.

Bring it in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Something is telling me it’s time to wrap this up. Just like the leaves covering the outdoor furniture is telling me to get it in the shed soon.

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Caught me

The last few days I’ve caught myself getting out of sorts and letting some unhealthy ways creep back into daily life. Things like not sleeping enough, pushing the body and mind too hard and allowing the small stuff to really affect my attitude negatively.

Things like poor drivers really pissing me off. Or letting the job that pays the bills to get to me. Or just being physically sore from not resting properly or pushing a body that doesn’t like to be pushed as hard as it did at 40 years old. Letting unimportant small things build up to pressure that really isn’t there. And of course, the drive to constantly do more just from within.

Reflection of tree in a pond along Triadelphia Mill Road.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I’m remembering to slow down before I put myself in an early grave or jump in a pond. Thinking about what is important and thinking about a response before that hair-trigger mind of mine goes off half-cocked.

So I’m trying to regroup. I’m trying to relax and trying to get some rest. Because if I don’t it’s not good for me or those around me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Despite the clouds, it was a top-down day in the car.
  • I’m within a half-pound of 200. The anticipation of seeing a number under that when I step on a scale is off the chart.
  • Why am I hearing about snow in the weather forecast for parts of the country?
  • I’m trying to do something significate for someone else each day.

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Our bridges are under stress. The bridges that built this country. People and organizations and political parties working together. Each piece of steel and bolt recognized as important.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t see that strength anymore. I see forces pulling the bridge apart. Pretty soon we will all be on separate land masses and more vulnerable than ever.

The sad thing is I see nothing to reverse this trend and that trend is on the fast path. Our leaders are propelling us even faster. Also inspiring the population to become more divided.

Sorry about the doom and gloom outlook. I’m probably just overly tired and also not feeling that well.

Of course politics aren’t the only thing splitting us further. Greed has a pretty big role. And then our racial issues continue to be used to further separate us.

So much of this has turned off a great deal of the population. While it looks like a lot are motivated and inspired I’m guessing its worse than it ever was. In past elections just over half of the voting age population even voted. And as evenly split as we are that means 25% of the country controls the direction. We all should be controlling the direction. We should all be involved and working together on very hard issues and problems.

But we are wasting precious time. Well enough with the downer attitude. Lets see if a few other thoughts can turn it around.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • To bad managers can’t fire owners. Beware Redskins owner.
  • Felt good to make a charitable donation today.
  • Help an older person. You will be there someday yourself.
  • The only positive I can see in the day I have to give up driving is not having to deal with the Maryland MVA offices again.
  • It’s good to recognize when you’re working too hard. But it’s better to take action to correct it.

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Stiff day

This 60+-year-old body doesn’t recover from moving days like it used to. But it still felt good to know this body still works well and can stand up to a long day’s physical activities. The job that pays the bills is a nice contrast to the work I did this weekend so sitting in a chair doesn’t look all that unattractive to start the week off.

I love some rocking chairs.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’d like to be kicking back in a rocking chair in the sunshine but it looks like it’s going to be Thursday or Friday before we see that again. It’s going to be a busy early part of the week anyway so I won’t have time to be sitting in the sun anyway.

I was sitting next to my best friends last night, really picking up on how extremely driven he is. He has an incredible attitude to overcome just about anything. I’ve always known that about him and respect him greatly for that and a number of other tremendous qualities.

He really has an incredible mindset which really is a nice power. It has changed the way I approach some things. Its always great to have friends that better you along the way. Good thing I got a lot of friends because I need a lot of help.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Usually, I’m tense to start the workweek. But I’m just too tired to be worried about it.
  • I heard it said this morning by a famous writer that you have to be a good reader to be a good writer or something to that effect. In most cases that is probably true but I was always one to break the mold.
  • Only good people will get us out of problems bad people have created.
  • I’m getting tired of working when I don’t feel well.
  • Email is both a blessing and a curse.
  • I’ve been neglect on keeping up with my favorite blogs, time to remedy that.

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Fix a flat

Its only fitting for a young man to stop and help a lady fix a flat.

Good life lessons start early.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Good day all, I was up late again and I was feeling good about finishing up a print project for some good friends. All three of their children are getting married within a 13 month period. Just attended the second one and it was beautiful.

Making some progress on a few other tasks and the results are visible and also make me feel good. Like my office for instance. I finally cleared my photo workbench. That had become a huge junk pile and catch-all for paperwork.

So today we move on to some difficult tasks that I’ll write about when I get home. Have a great day.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • OK who turned off the HEAT?
  • I’m nervous about my back holding up today.
  • Playoffs are intense. Even after a 162 game regular season.
  • On some things, you don’t need to wait for time to tell

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When you think about it, we all are really alone. We live within each of our own realities. Interpretations of the same thing seen in infinite ways. We live with our own pains and joys. Things that may be insignificant to everyone else holds a special place in your heart or mind.

Alone. That is how I feel sometimes. But I’ve grown to feel more comfortable in that space. It might sound strange to the people around me because I’m usually with people. I’m happily married, I have loving kids who visit and call often. I work in a large company and I’m blessed with many good and great friends.

Alone with your thoughts.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So why would I feel alone? Well, one can feel alone for many reasons and at many stages of life. I felt very alone when my father died when I was nine. When my better half and I have struggled I’ve felt alone. When my mom died I felt alone again. When the children grew up and went to college and moved out after that I felt alone.

When I drive to work I’m alone. When you go in for surgery you are alone. A lot of times now I work alone at the job that pays the bills. When I’m writing I’m usually alone. Most of my professional friends have retired or moved on which leaves me alone.

My Aunt and Uncle’s rowboat in 1969 with me at the helm.
Photo by Shirley Hartley

I’ve felt alone at a concert with tens of thousands of people because I can become lost so much in the music that I feel like I’m the only one there the band is playing for.

I’m alone in my basement working a lot. The random thoughts I have are alone unless I write them down or verbalize them. I’m alone on the roof when I clean gutters. When I drive home early on a Christmas or Thanksgiving holiday from work I’m almost all alone on the highway.

At least I always know there are good people there for me when I’m not alone. That is a great thing to have.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve been very productive today.
  • It was a nice night to drive with the top down.
  • My exercise includes charging my better half’s “Fitbit”
  • So much sports to watch, so little time.
  • I’m going to wake tomorrow by the voice of an infant. Isn’t life grand.

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Goodbye 90’s till next year

What a blessing this summer has been. I’m learning to cherish each one even more but having our first grandchild really made this a special one indeed. I hope I’m blessed with many more seasons and years and more grandchildren.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s all happened so fast. From standing in the outfield or hoop court as a teenager to my young senior years as a grandfather. A blink of an eye. I still feel like that same young boy (well a few pounds heavier) in my mind. And I’m kind of thankful to be getting that frame of mind back.

I almost felt the same way about peoples younger siblings and babies back then. Excitement. It’s not that I wasn’t super excited when I had my own family. Still, the greatest days of my life when they were born. But those prime time career days and raising children kind of took the time away to appreciate it all along the way because you were so busy going from one thing to the next or many at the same time.

So now as in my teen years I have the blessing of time to savor. And I’m savoring it.

No more.
Photo by Mike Hartley

No more AC needed after today. And yes I checked the monthly calendar on the Weather Channel and I don’t see a day over 73 degrees this month. I guess I can cover this up till next season. I’m going to miss that sun baking my arms in the convertible.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A complete day is when you get to speak to every family member even though you live apart.
  • Remember today when there is a foot of snow on the ground and then choose which one you want.
  • I see the definition of Perfect is changing also. Someone should come up with the Alternate Dictionary.
  • When we leave democracy to the few we are in danger. When we all partisipate we are much safer.
  • Really, one of these days I’ll do something worthwhile here.

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I can see the end of my work week ahead. Looming like a giant temptress of fun, joy, and excitement. Yeah, I probably can’t avoid cutting the grass for a second week in a row. One of the few benefits of the dry stretch we’re in here in the state of Maryland. And yes I’m going to play a moving man one day this weekend. And yes we are watching our grandchild. And yes I’ll be going to see one of my best friends in physical rehab.

But that leaves a few minutes to try to accomplish something. And that excites me a lot. I’m trying to stop wasting the few minutes here and there that can be put to more constructive use.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And tomorrow I have a few free minutes. Not many but going out and taking the cameras. Sometimes I feel like I’m working harder when I’m not at work. But it’s far more enjoyable.

So get out tomorrow and enjoy what might be the last 90+ degree day of the year. Break a sweat, get a snowball, walk by the stream and get out and experience life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Baseball postseason got off to an exciting start.
  • I dream a lot less when I sleep during the day than at night.
  • If your eyes are open to opportunities then grab them.
  • I didn’t read that it was World Vegetarian Day till after my dinner of spicy sausage.

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Someone very important to me is getting some replacement parts. Yep new knees. And if anyone deserves them its him. I’ve watched him struggle with pain for years, excuse me decades. It got me thinking about how lucky I am with that aspect of health so far. All they do with me is cut body parts out.

I’ve known a few people with organ transplants. Modern medicine is something isn’t it. But we can’t rely on medicine to correct everything. We have to do our own part. Something I haven’t always acknowledged.

Morning ride along Tridelphia Mill Road.
Photo by Mike Hartley

As they say, never to late to start. Well maybe I’ll hear that someday later but not today. I’ve made diet adjustments but I haven’t been able to sustain any consistent physical activity besides what I get in chores.

So time to get busy with that effort this fall. Think I’ll start tomorrow by going for a long walk and jog. Because I’d like to continue to age. Aging is a good thing. I just hope that I can avoid the pitfalls of looking at it wrong as I do age.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Love makes the day manageable.
  • I was sad to see the U of MD Diamondback newspaper will cease print in the spring.
  • Some people don’t have a clue and are too ignorant to realize they don’t. And they seem to thrive and exalt in their ignorance. My patience for this type is wearing thin.
  • The brutal part of my week is almost behind me.
  • Don’t let others decide what is best for you.

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Grab a seat for fall

Grab your seat for the fall season. It goes by quickly and depending on the winds can be over in a blink of an eye. I think I’ll head west and catch some of the early changes that happen before they get to the low country in central Maryland.

Take your seat for the change of seasons.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think the first fall season that I’m retired I’ll start some time-lapse sequences. Go to the same spots that have some good landscapes and capture the changes. Who knows, maybe I can try that when I’m still working. Unlikely but its a thought.

Feeling restless today, The workweek looms large. Also one of my best friends is getting both knees replaced tomorrow. Going to be moving some in laws this week and I’m going to the dreaded MVA or DMV, whichever it goes by. I could add two dozen other significant chores to that list but that means I’m living I guess.

I can’t believe were into the last day of September already. So that leaves us with 3 months to go in the year. The older I get the more I shake my head at how fast the time goes by. I’m really going to make a big push to finish the year strong here. To get better content and photos.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Boy did I have a bad week of football picks. The good thing is I only lost $10 to my Son.
  • I can smell the tip off for College Basketball.
  • You ever get scared of going to see the doctor? If not you haven’t been really sick.
  • I regret not being involved more in positive change. But I’m going to make good use of the time I have left.
  • One of these days the temp will catch up with the season.



We went to a very good longtime friend’s son’s wedding today. As I told my better half when we got home that it reminds me how special being married to her is and also I’d like to be the last couple on the dance floor one day when they do the longest-married contest. In another month we will hit 39 years. I think the winning couple today had 59.

I saw a lot of love and heard a lot of good words spoken. I saw a beautiful bride, groom and a wedding party. The venue was great. Dancing was constant and the joy was great. So a good time was had.

I did a quick look at a few shots I took with the old camera. At the entrance, they had this beautiful mirror with some flowers around it. I got two angles and I couldn’t decide which I liked better. The one with the reflection of the tree at the entrance or the one reflecting the sky.

Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

Most of our friends have been married for some time. It’s not always easy and actually it can be very difficult. My better half and I certainly have had a few rough times. I think what a shame it would have been for either of us to have taken an exit. I’m far from the perfect husband and my youthful years are littered with bad decisions at times. So she would have been justified.

But we are together and I feel stronger than ever. I’m not sure what got it back on the right track, but I’m thankful. I’m sure it was a good number of things done by both sides. And to keep it healthy that effort will always be there.

Raising children, challenging careers, new friends and family, and just growing older and changing along the way are huge hurdles. There is no set key for success other than to keep working hard at it and keep communicating. Remember the love you started out with. It also takes a good bit of acceptance.

I see people getting married that look like the perfect partners and ones that seem to be complete opposites. I’ve seen the success and failures of both. I’m fortunate to have a great number of friends that have been married several decades. Most of my best friends right along with the number I used early for us.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I see young couples struggling and sometimes not giving it the work or chance and I see opportunities lost. I’m not saying that there are very valid reasons for splits but opportunities for change and progress are the ebb and flow of life.

To all those married individuals, my hope for the best in whatever trials you’re working through. I say that because I feel both my better half and I are very happy now, but we still had trials and days that we don’t communicate well or stresses in our marriage. Everyone will no matter how long you are married. It’s just impossible to have the best days all the time. So put in the work, if you are really in love it’s well worth it. At least that is my belief and reward.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m getting better at doing a post in a very short window some days.
  • Where did this weekend go?
  • I’ve got to go now because the new season of SNL is starting.

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Changing priorities

Changing priorities sound like a big thing but its something we do all day long. Or at least I do. Maybe that is why I’m a bit all over the place but it works for me.

The ability to have set priorities and stick to them and the knowledge and experience to change on a dime when needed. Changing priorities should have good reasons and sound judgment as well as the courage to change.

Today some of my priorities changed. I can go back and second guess. I can lament that maybe I didn’t plan well initially or didn’t give the plan enough effort. But the older I get the less I do of that. I’m finding doing what I’ve chosen isn’t always the most productive. Maybe not sticking to a plan or objective. But most of the time its the right thing to do and usually the most rewarding.

Today I spent the day in love. With my granddaughter and granddog.

There are plans for tomorrow. But I’ll see what else is being run up the flagpole and adjust for the wind.

I wish everyone was awake for sunrises and sunsets.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For some reason, in my lifetime I thought I’d see Maryland competitive with Penn State on the football field. Good thing I’m only in my 60’s. This might take some time.
  • Be careful of commitments. Make sure they are to the right people and for the right things.
  • And here I sat down 45 minutes ago without a thought in my head about what to post this evening. I almost panicked. And now that I read what I’ve done I can see why.
  • I wish the bitterness was gone. I wish the trust in each other would return. I long for the laughter there used to be. Well, we can always hope tomorrow will be better.

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Thinking Thursday

I didn’t accomplish too much on my to-do list but that is OK. The mind needed to unwind a bit and the body needed some horizontal time. I’m becoming an avid listener to my body and mind. I didn’t use to pay them much attention and abused both.

Now they have my full attention and I’m a better person for it. Not that I don’t stress them out once in a while still, it’s just not the constant stretching both thin.

Visibility = 1 garden length.

I’ve listened to something my better half said recently. I have to work on my patience. And my patience is affected by how tired I am or if I’m feeling poorly. So again another reason to take care of myself.

Well now that I got the days rest, I better take my behind to the treadmill.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • History is cool but this day to day lesson is really interesting.
  • It’s print night, time to drain the existing cartridges and refill them tomorrow. I still enjoy a photographic print more than viewing something on a screen.
  • I wish a second wind is something I could schedule.
  • Daylight is dwindling.
  • My goal for tomorrow is to fill a trashcan of old junk and get rid of it. Well, I do have a lot more goals than that, but that might be the hardest.

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Top-down, wind in the hair

Crank up the siren. We got an all-points bulletin out in good old Hazard County for nice weather. And while it was a short ride in the convertible today it was glorious. I was explaining to my father inlaw about how its the closest thing to the days of riding a motorcycle.

It’s freedom and puts a whole new perspective on driving. It also opens your eyes to all the things you miss in a cage. Sorry I meant the car.

This isn’t going to catch anything anymore than a nostalgic glance.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So the next 4 days look beautiful if you believe the weather report. I’m going to use them to get outside starting tomorrow.

I’m trying to stay positive this evening. Fighting a few things that make it hard to concentrate or just let a positive thought leap forward. I guess its just balance of life taking over. The first part of the day was good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I learn a lot about what I would and wouldn’t like to be by watching people closely.
  • Listening to older people is a unique skill.
  • Tomorrow night our bed has an extra visitor. My Son’s dog is staying with us. That means my spot is in jeopardy.
  • If you think about telling your loved ones you love them by text, email, phone or in person and do it often, you have your head on straight.

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Slippery when wet

I’ve been writing up a storm but nothing is complete enough today to process. Actually I wrote two long pieces but one I want to put more into and the other was maybe an area that I always think about for a day or two if I want to venture into.

So I was looking through shots the past few weeks and found these puppies. I had no idea where I was going with them beyond writing the post title. I’m overwhelmed with news and work and moving furniture today.

I’m not into the raw but you can bring me, Rockefeller, all night long.
Photo by Mike Hartley

There is nothing like seafood in the summertime. There could be a zillion reasons to move and if you said I can have crabs and Old Bay I’m staying.

Even though I don’t partake in these, they are unique in many ways. And the job they do in scrubbing our waterways is incredible. Something like 50 gallons of water per day filtered.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And if anyone is aware of the date that people are eligible to no longer have to move other people let me know what it is. Just kidding, I’ll always be available for family and friends. Just like they are for me. One of my best friends texted me back after I told him I was starting the move of my inlaws and he offered to help immediately. It might take us a little longer than it did when we were younger. It might hurt more. It will always be fun and sad. Usually because of shared memories of the home being left.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My busy week just got busier.
  • Best wishes to those who use the Bay Bridge. Have patience, its better than falling into the water from those heights.
  • What an interesting news cycle.
  • Sometimes when I hurt I think about the SNL skit as Fernando says ‘It’s better to look good, than to feel good” and I always laugh for a second or two. And laughter is a good way to feel better.

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Sweet Sweat

Sweating on the first day of Fall. I love it. And when it’s warm my mind wanders to the beach. And when my mind wanders to the beach I’m lost in bliss. Well, that was the case for about 15 minutes as I laid outside catching some of the summers last rays. I didn’t sleep that well so I thought 15 minutes on the lounge chair would be splurging on laziness.

Plus I needed a few minutes to relax the mind. It’s already racing too fast and that vacation comfort zone is being eroded. Yesterday was like a holeshot in a dragster.

The days are numbered for a warm breeze to fly your kite in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not a fan of starting off the week knowing the amount of free or unscheduled time is nill. Coming off vacation to a drag race of life is always a jarring experience.

But we will go on because that is a nice struggle. I’m not fighting life-threatening health issues or poverty or loss of loved ones. I’m not hungry, my clothes are acceptable and clean. My family and friends are healthy so life is damn good.

Keeping the proper perspective is important and something I take for granted once in a while. Yes, life is tough at times. We all have lost loved ones and had a family crisis or two or more. We all hit financial issues. Well, most of us normal folks. Responding and reacting to these events and just the daily events we all experience is the key.

Those who are alone its a tough road. You have to be your own coach, cheerleader and star player. Victories aren’t celebrated together and defeats have to be born alone. I felt that when I was much younger. And I haven’t forgotten that feeling. Maybe that is why I have such a strong family and a large group of very good friends.

They are very important to the success and just making it through the day to day life. Find yourself a good support system and it will make life much more enjoyable.

Good thing the dentist called to reschedule my cleaning. Just finished a bucket off.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So let’s get this Monday popping and gear it up for another day on the job that pays the bills.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The hardest part of cleaning up my office is getting started.
  • I’m within four pounds of seeing a number less than 200.
  • Some 16 year olds are wise beyond their years.
  • Boy some of my rock star heros are getting old.
  • Could be a cool ride home this morning with the top down.
  • Stain sticks save my wardrobe.
  • If you want evidence society is breaking down – take a drive.

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By the calendar

Today is the last day of summer according to the calendar. Here in the state of Maryland, it seems to be trying to hang on and this guy is FINE with that news. Fall and spring are nice but that territory between those two I dread.

Lining up for the start of next summer already.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Being we have a stretch of nice weather still I hope to take full advantage of it and get outside. One thing I found very relaxing was just laying in the sun be it on the beach or on my deck lounge chair which is many miles from the beach but the sun was still warming my mood.

One thing that hasn’t been good for the fall colors is the dry weather we have had. If they drop early then some of the seasons color are lost. Let’s hope for the best because that is a nice thing living in this part of the country, the fall foliage.

Well onto some self improvement thoughts. Always good to work on my faults and there is no shortage of them. One of them I discussed with my better half this evening is doing more. Getting out and experiencing life, enjoying events and each others company.

So I’m taking steps in getting organized and planning because I’m not the best spur of the moment type guy in getting out.

I’m also going to try to contribute more of my time to charitable events. I hope to do 2 cancer walks next year. Its time I give back as a survivor and be thankful and maybe help someone else fighting the same thing.

I also mentioned what sleeping properly on vacation this past week did for me and I’m going to try to start getting proper rest even while working. That is going to be a tough one but the benefits are there now for me to see.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Returning to work after vacation sucks. Well it is good to still have a job.
  • Good thing I get out of town before Shutdown DC starts tomorrow. I can see some frustrated commuters trying to make hood ornaments out of protesters.
  • I’m going to start eating a lot more fruit. I’ve already incorporated lots of nuts. Lets see if this helps get under that 200 barrier.
  • I was so pleased with myself that I had the camera out the last 3 days in a row. Going to see if I can keep the streak going.


How much

When you hear the words how much, most people think of the monetary cost. Today when I wrote that title I was thinking of how much I can cram into this day. Not a bad thought being there are so many options and opportunities.

It’s not there yet, but the strength is returning to this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well at the end of the day I can say I crammed a lot into one day. A mixture of work and enjoyment. After playing yard man we took a trip to the Ellicott City Main Street Music Festival for a few hours. We walked to the city and saw all 3 outdoor stages. The bands sounded pretty good and it was so good to see this city alive again. We had a quick bite to eat in town and then went for a cruise till dark.

The temps were hot, the music was cool.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll make this an annual event to attend in the future. And I hope it continues to be a great success for the city. If the crowds on the street and in the shops and parking lots were any indication it was.

Packed sidewalks bring a smile to my face.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The day was filled with the sounds of classics to modern.

A bit of something for everyone.
Photo by Mike Hartley
I couldn’t believe this was a Honda Shadow. I used to ride one of these for decades.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Behind the Old Howard County TImes building. I always have some great memories of working in this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Next to the Wine Bin. What would you expect? A crowd?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was very glad to see the youth of the world concerned and making their presence felt by voicing global climate issues/effects. Maybe they can inspire some adults.
  • Weather-wise it was a good week to be off of work.
  • I need to work on my patience.
  • Do you believe the nonsense and all the wasted time with that Storm Area 51 crap? Proof that a dumb ass idea or thought can go way too far.


Feeling it

Some days you just start off with that special feeling. Today was one of those. In truth, the first thing I felt was pain today but regardless of that, the special feeling I was talking about was the creative juice and ideas. Both were flowing this morning. The excitement was flowing through the bloodstream.

When I look at each day as an opportunity I get excited. That is hard for me to do consistently and therefore I do waste some time with the wrong attitude. But today won’t be one of those.

Getting a good start to each day increases the chances of success.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A lot of memories have been resurfacing lately due to the transition my mother and father inlaws are making. The move to a senior living facility from their longtime home. My Mom was in her home for at least 45 years. And I remember the difficulty in the move. I think her parents might have topped that number of years in their home. I can’t and can imagine the thoughts going through their minds. I could see it in their faces in the memory of my Moms many years ago and in their faces today. This is traumatic but at the same time its the right thing at least in my opinion.

And that is a difficult thing to see when you get older. I think everyone in their family is also on the same page and belief, but that doesn’t change the facts. I’ve tried to sit here this afternoon and imagening having to leave my home. I’ve only been in my home for 33 years and right now I don’t think I’ll ever leave it. But I also hope to grow old with my better half and someday may be lucky enough to be faced with the same thing. If that happens I’m going to be very thankful and happy that my children have our best interest at heart.

It’s not even that either of our parents didn’t think it was the right time. Both had been looking into it years before they actually made the jump. And I believe in their hearts that they know that taking care of a home at their age is difficult at best. Just about everything is hired out. They choose to cook and clean for themselves but even time for that daily has passed. There are multiple levels and stairs. Of course, stairlifts have been added and rails and grips in bathrooms, but still the fall risk is high.

Even though they have a great support system made up of children and grandchildren, they still don’t have the support they need in all situations. Luckily so far no medical emergencies that either have had to handle which is the most important thing now. At that age, even in fairly good health, it’s difficult at best and sometimes impossible to help your spouse properly in emergency situations. Here someone is right down the hall 24/7. Knows what action to take, makes the calls and has help on the way immediately.

Celebrate as many sunrises as you can.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But nothing about this is easy. They are leaving their comfort zone. Even though they have watched just about everyone in their neighbor transition away, its still their neighborhood and home.

My children have been gone for years, sometimes I stop and look in and imagine their just in the other room playing. Yeah, the rooms have changed but my images of them remain strong. I’m sure this is the same for our parents.

I’ve been privileged to experience my own mom getting into her senior years and my wife’s parents even exceeding that and it’s wonderful to be able to grow old. Its also filled with difficult decisions. It’s filled with hospital visits and stays. It’s filled with diminished capacities in both physical and mental areas. All very significant challenges.

It’s family members learning to interact together after being apart for years on their own. It’s learning new care and communication techniques. It’s having patience you didn’t know you had from both the parents and children because of the stress associated with growing old at times.

Getting old is something that I’m looking at as a limited number of possibilities left to share and enjoy. Each family gathering is more special to me now. Even each call from my children up to my mother and father inlaw is savored. So in every situation, I try to remember to make it as best possible.

As the seasons change this coming Monday I know I only have so many to appreciate. When in the throes of change and stress, it’s difficult to remember that every moment is to be savored. And each side needs to remember the love they have for each other, remain as calm and willing to listen and compromise when possible. Take into account that understanding and comprehension might not be what it used to. Don’t assume they hear you correctly. Don’t assume they remember. Don’t assume they are just being difficult.

I plan on working hard to make this a smooth and comfortable transition for them. One because they deserve it. They have given so much time and love to their family that it all should come back to them at this important time in their lives. It’s what my parents would expect of me. It’s what I hope my children will do when I’m in my advanced years if I’m lucky enough to get there.

Take the long view. Not just what feels ok today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I know why so many older people seem so nice. They have discovered the secret that being any other way is a waste of time.
  • What a beautiful stretch of weather.
  • Some old friends gave us a kitchen table today. It looks great and the chairs seem more comfortable so they have increased the pleasures of my many meals there. Many thanks.
  • I was able to make a number of older people smile today just by pushing a baby around in a stroller.
  • You know a lot of lonely people are just looking for someone to say hello or have an nice day, once in a while.

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All kinds of time

All kinds of time were the thoughts I first had when I started vacation late last week. And here we are now and its almost over and I feel a time crunch. How do I get all the things I had in my mind to do over this week?

Well, I can’t but I can try. And that is all we can ask of ourselves. Give it your best shot and then get up the next day and give it your best shot again. And if truth be told I always haven’t given it my best shot but I do better at it than I ever have as time moves along.

I don’t go to the boardwalk like we did when the kids were young.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So it’s out I go this afternoon. To enjoy some sun and maybe go for a ride with the top down and some back roads. And the cameras will be along for the ride. Tomorrow is the grandchild’s day for me. And I’m thinking about having a few crabs on Saturday to mark the coming end of Summer on Monday.

Get your claw on.
Photo by Mike Hartley

With all this joy the last week, I dread getting back to the grind and losing this relaxed feeling. I’m worried about trying to do too much because of all the things I try to fit into a day. I’m worried that I won’t get the time to pursue my hobbies.

The job that pays the bills takes more of a toll on this old guy than it used to. Maybe it’s not the job but me that is losing energy. I don’t know what it is but I’ve got to stay strong in my pursuits. Family, friends, and fun. And of course my hobbies.

Tomorrow I think I’ll concentrate on children’s photography. Saturday is the Ellicott City Main Street Music festival and that might have some good photo opportunities. Sunday I think I’ll visit Arlington National Cemetery and pay my respects and grab a few frames. Let’s see if I can accomplish something for the next few days.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How come kids hate naps so much but have all the time in the world for them and older adults love them can’t seem to squeeze in even a small one?
  • One thing vacation has taught me is that there is a big difference between 3-4 hours of sleep and 6-8 hours of sleep.
  • Not every day can be a great day but parts of it can be if you look and strive for them.
  • Dumsers in Ocean City has the best Cherry Ice Cream sodas there are.

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Skipping hump day

This is not a workweek for me so Hump Day doesn’t enter into the equation. Even though I do have some yard work to catch up on but I also hope to squeeze in some fun. Being on vacation is like the GIANT tease of what retired life could be. And boy do I find myself looking forward to it.

Peddle the days away.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The time to ride a bike, not for the exercise but just relaxation and enjoyment of seeing a new street. The time to spend a few hours a day shooting new images or writing a book. Many things I look forward to doing.

But today is to be lived today. You could spend your whole life looking forward to things you would like to do. So as I’ve said before I’m starting them now just in case. I think I’ll get my behind up early and out the door to do some local shooting.

It was National Cheeseburger day so I did my part and had one. At the time I didn’t even know it. So I must be psychic or something. Time to start eating a bit healthier again. Shedding that last 10 lbs is always the most difficult part. But I’m committed to getting those pounds off. So it’s off to the treadmill after I finish here.

I see this coming Sunday is the Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk in Towson MD. I made other commitments that morning but I’m going to put this on my calendar for next year right now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s not that I didn’t have any random thoughts during the last few days. It was due to having too much fun and too little time to provide those observations.
  • Progress is measured by you.
  • If you are ever in Bethany Beach eat at Ropewalk. Oh, you can drink there also.
  • Keeping a normal schedule while I’m on vacation shows me how bad my schedule really is when I’m not.
  • With so many options, its really important to choose the right ones.

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Transition Day

Yeah, it’s back to reality. But boy was it a nice escape. I had the most wonderful dinner with friends last night and some great walks and laughs and well you know, its the beach so it’s just a great time.

Yes, its another sunrise. But being they are all unique, it never gets old to me.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I got a nice bit of exercise. The water is still nice and warm. The sand is still beautiful. Candy Kitchen is still in stock. The people are friendly and the food is great. Oh yeah, there are no CROWDS.

September is a great month to hit the shore. All the benefits of summer without being shoulder to shoulder at the beach or highway.

All Hail
Photo by Mike Hartley

You also run into the more year-round residents who are just the most friendly people around it seems. While it’s true some things close up for the season, there is still a lot open.

I’m just starting to realize I’m going to have to carry these memories through our long and grey winter season. Panic is setting in already at the thought of cold weather. But we still have a month or so of tolerable weather so I won’t start going off about that yet.

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Paddling along

Each day is like a ship leaving port and returning. And today is no different. Just ending a bit later than I intended. I was up early for a wonderful event for our family. Its been a great day.

Paddle home.
Photo by my better half.

I’m feeling like a very lucky man. I was almost ready to say “one without a worry” but that wouldn’t be correct. I’m worried about the right things and less about what I can’t control. But my focus is on the good in life and sharing it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The better the spirits I’m in the more I like about life.
  • I sat outside tonight watching the moon dart in out of the clouds. Summer nights are the best.
  • Even if you have a long life, its too short in my opinion.
  • College football season is only a few weeks old and already I’m losing interest. Now basketball season can’t start soon enough though and it will keep my interest through March Madness.
  • All is right with the world when you have found a barber to replace the one you went to for almost 3 decades.


Asking myself to be positive

It always feels good to get a haircut and that is what I decided to start my day with on Thursday. Then some chores while the guy came to do service on my oil furnace.

I felt like I wasted some time yesterday, but I was just brutally tired. And it gets harder to be positive when tired and sore at the same time. So I guess that is my lead argument for missing doing a post yesterday. I know, no excuses.

Good resting spot. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I had the pleasure of taking my inlaws to the doctors. They are the sweetest couple and its a pleasure to help them out. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have them still being my parents have passed. There is no replacement for your parents but having loving inlaws for parents also really helps ease the missing love.

I think that is something I’ll do more of when I retire. My father inlaw did 17 years of driving for Meals on Wheels. I’m sure there are a ton of things I could do like that. It would be nice if we all could look after our elderly more. I remember when my Mom was in assisted and then nursing care. The number of people that got visitors often was very little. Some I believe might not have had any.

That’s a very sad and scary thought. Can you imagine that? But I guess it does happen. And probably more than I can realize. I remember at times taking the time to talk to a resident or two on the way in or out from seeing my own Mom. I always felt good about doing it because it was so often met with a smile or thank you.

I’ll be getting a chance to practice some random kindness again in the near future. I might have to revive an old policy I had with my Mom, always some fresh flowers. Well, almost all the time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I enjoy if I can make people laugh. But if I can make an infant laugh then I feel I’ve done something special.
  • I could spend two days describing how fast a day goes by.
  • I’m convinced bacon is one of the most addictive things on earth.
  • The day they stop making a manual transmission for cars is the day I stop driving. Go ahead, try to take away my clutch and shifter, just try it.

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Today gave me pause for the obvious reasons. There is no more disturbing anniversary in our history than maybe Pearl Harbor. I watched a few shows on the history of the day and the aftermath. I listened to some speeches and I was moved to tears when seeing many family member’s pain.

I’m stuck in thought about those who have passed. I’m pained by all that were affected after the events of that day from the toxic clouds of debris and the environment they had to work in and now have health issues none of us want to face ourselves.

As it moves further away in time it seems the national awareness is fading. Yeah, it gets the news coverage still. The high ranking government officials still visit sites. Our first responders hold services and events marking the memory of many brave people.

But it’s not a point of discussion anymore. It’s not even the focus on how to resolve what was started 18 years ago. Were not addressing the issues that caused this. I’m wondering how many of us even took the time to pause at the designated times to remember?

And if these thoughts weren’t enough to depress me, it’s my mother’s birthday. I sat down several times but would glance over at her pictures and be stopped in my tracks. Lots of memories come back on her birthday.

So this is far from a productive day for me. Some work, some tears, the panic that as the time passes that memories of the lost loved ones fade more. When I was sorting her things after she passed I found one of her favorite scarfs. It smelled like her. I put it in a ziplock back. I open it on her birthday and the day she passed in May and smell and touch it.

Marylander’s lost on 9/11
Photo by Mike Hartley

Then I think about how brave and strong she was to raise my sister and me alone. I think about the bravery of those at the crash sites that day. I think about the bravery of all the men and women we have sent into battle since then.

Life can be so short. Life is so precious. Life is meant to be spent in celebration and acknowledging appreciation that we have been given a special gift.

So another September 11 passes. Tomorrow I’ll try to get back on my game. Plus it will be the first day of some time off from the job that pays the bills and will allow me to get in good spirits again.

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Things change

I guess things changing is a good thing for the most part. Which means constant learning and challenges. Trouble is that leads to stress and if your not an adaptive person and like consistency then days can be tough.

I’m not sure but it seems to be a trait amongst older people that change is harder to accept. I can feel that tolerance to change is less in myself. Or maybe it’s just being able to deal with less of it at the same time?

Maybe it’s hearing the “new plan” for productivity improvement at the job that is a variation on the same theme that you have seen come and go several times over the past decades just with a new title and catchphrases and a bunch of rah-rah cheerleaders describing it’s wonderful possibilities. Yes, that magic wears off after a while.

Maybe it’s your community developing and becoming more choked with people and cars. Maybe it’s just new neighbors with a rooster. Maybe because its the house you bought and raised children isn’t as full as it once was except on occasions.

EC Railroad Museum
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe you don’t deal well with the change of seasons like I struggle with. Thinking about snow like above sends chills and pain up my spine. Or is it the change of attitude of the nation that has changed where we have difficulty even talking to each other.

Has our trust in each other changed so and can it ever be regained? I have several friends in the middle of job transitions. That change scares the hell out of me. Especially at this time in my life, I would struggle with that change.

And something I need to change but seem to have no luck with is my eating habits. No, I’m far from the worst case, but bad habits over time will take their toll. I’ve got to find another beverage to replace a few of the Cokes I drink per day.

I fear the change in my senior year’s presents, but I’m also looking forward to the change in work status and new opportunities. I hope those years allow me to relax not be on edge as much.

Well, the day is getting ready to change. And it’s to a significant date of 9/11. Yeah, that one. But always my first thought of 9/11 is that it’s my mother’s birthday. I miss her and still struggle to this day with that change in my life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Please pause a few minutes tomorrow to remember and respect the fallen. Thank you.
  • The frequency of close calls and accidents I see on the highway is drastically increasing. I can’t wait till I don’t have to drive at peak times.
  • It’s nice to miss your better half when your not together. It’s even nicer when they miss you also.
  • I don’t worry about my health because I’ve already had a lifetime of worry about it already.
  • Wow, he never fails to surprise me. He’s said I’m the enemy of the American people because I work for a media organization he doesn’t like. He’s said I’m not patriotic even though I go to visit my parents buried in Arlington National Cemetery often. And now he says that I’m a person of little faith a few days before my granddaughter’s baptism. I’ve never met this man but boy would I like a PERSONAL Introduction to set his ass straight.

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Keeping up is what I feel I’ve been doing. I’m trying my best to balance and enjoy life but I keep hitting the walls. I feel like a NASCAR driver with a loose car trying to run for the lead. Its wearing me out.

The thoughts don’t flow as freely when I’m stressed. All energy is expended each day and sometimes into reserves. Well, most of the time into reserves. But you can only do that for so long.

Unlock yourself.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And then again, lots of us do it for as long as it’s needed. I might be sacrificing for your children. It may mean taking care of elderly parents. It could be helping total strangers. All doing whatever is needed whenever it’s needed and for as long as it’s needed.

It can be simple stuff. Like I was struggling as to what to do for today’s post. I wrote the title “Trying” and just thought about how difficult it is sometimes to grab a few minutes and try to throw together a good post or any post for that matter.

And again today minutes are short for this effort. But I keep trying to fit it in every day regardless of other factors. I do it because I like it and its a personal commitment to myself.

Trying should always include in doing things for yourself as well as others.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • What a start to MNF. Game 1 was something.
  • I’m inspired to find more time. But these clocks are so limiting.
  • Tomorrow is snowball day. The kind you eat.
  • Commuting takes the life out of me some days.
  • Trying to set myself a new goal. Take at least one new shot around the county I live each day and post it.

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Before you know it

Before you know it, the seasons have changed.
Before you know it, your new grandchild is 6 months old.
Before you know it, its time to start another work week.
Before you know it, you’re in your sixties.
Before you know it, you’re back at the doctors or dentist.
Before you know it, the grass needs cutting again.
Before you know it, the holiday season will be upon you.
Before you know it, you have put on a few extra pounds.
Before you know it, your eyesight or hearing isn’t what it used to be.
Before you know it, you’re putting up a new calendar.
Before you know it, your children are adults with families and careers.
Before you know it, that drive to the hoop isn’t what it used to be.
Before you know it, love and friendship gets stronger.
Before you know it, you missed another opportunity.
Before you know it, another day is setting.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its nice to be in love.
  • Happy Grandparents day.
  • Are you ready for some football?
  • I’ve got to get back to shooting some new images.
  • My better half is a good cook and I’m very thankful.
  • I used to love playing tennis. Also enjoyed watching it. But times change and I don’t do much of either anymore.

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Today I woke in pain. But I woke up.
Today I cut the yard. But Mother Nature will always win.
Today I had a light lunch. But I was fortunate to have the meal.
Today I remembered to wear a hat. Saving myself a sunburn up top.
Today I’m missing my granddaughter. But I had her for the last two days.
Today the morning was too cool. Good thing its still summer.
Today Maryland had to play a ranked team. Yet still, they won.
Today is the 6th-month mark of the birth of my grandchild. SMILE.
Today I worked hard. Good thing I can find my bed.

Select your direction wisely.
Photo by Mike Hartley

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Got in a little late last night. I had about 20 minutes to put together a post to make the daily deadline I imposed on myself. I sat for a few minutes, picked up one I started in the morning and trashed that. Then I started two different ones and I asked myself what was I doing. Not that any of these finished posts are nuggets of gold, I just don’t want to throw something up for the sake of putting something up. I want it to feel easy and natural.

Find your way.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, most of my posts are hastily gathered and created. That is probably very evident. And that worries me that I’m not giving it my best. I do it as often as I can to build it into the habit of writing and photography as often as I can.

I also want to never look at this as work. Its a hobby I like very much and I will not let a self-imposed schedule muck up that feeling that I’m doing something for myself for the enjoyment of it.

In one way not keeping to my daily goal is very dangerous for me. Once I start sliding on any commitment it usually doesn’t take long to slack more often. So to counter that I’ll try to maybe do a little extra this weekend. It beats worrying and complaining about what I didn’t get done.

There is only so much time. Deciding on how to spend it is always a good thing to review.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s so easy to see the innocence in children, why is it so difficult to see it in adults.
  • Advice for the next few days. – Get outside.
  • I’m going to see if I can beat the roosters that crow behind my house to the punch tomorrow. Always good to get an early start.
  • If you’re more worried about what you can do for people instead of what people owe or can do for you, then you’re living right.

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The eye in the sky

Welcome to hump day. Broadcasting here from the eye in the sky. Not really, this shot was from our visit to Montreal Canada. One of the few times I’ve been out of my home country. Guess I’m not much of a world traveler. I guess I prefer the local sights and the comfort of my own home too much. Of course, the funds to travel are often put on the back burner to facilitate more important issues in life.

The eye in the sky. Or as Tatoo would say Ze Plane Ze Plane, look closely.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Airports are wondrous places to me where most people look at them as they would a bus stop. Hotels are a special treat, meals out and sights never seen before are of great joy and still new to me each time we go someplace because we go so infrequently.

I really should change that because I know my better half would enjoy more experiences other venues have to offer. I’ll have to see if I can surprise myself and her by turning over a new leaf.

Stress was working at me when I remembered BALANCE today. I was opening the blinds to the slider door and looked outside to the deck and saw the lounge chair. So out I went and got an hour of sun and just shut my eyes and relaxed. It was great, something I don’t often take the time to do at all. Yeah, I’m outside a lot but usually, a mower or trimmer or rake or shovel or hose or leaf blower is in my hands. Today I pointed my open palms skyward from the chair.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish I would write more random thoughts down throughout the day instead of trying to remember them at the end of the day.
  • Every once in awhile Mother Nature shows us what power is.
  • I haven’t been this tired since yesterday.

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What a day

Didn’t sleep all that well which isn’t unusual. But two things inspired the title of this post “what a day.” Well, maybe a few more than two by the time I finish rambling on today.

The first item is something that if you live in the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) this is absolutely the worst day to be out and about. Because EVERYONE is out and about. Traffic today showed me this area has bypassed max capacity. I wasn’t a mile or two down the road this morning before someone passed me on a double yellow line and then ran a red light. Keep in mind, this is 6 am downtown DC. This afternoon I saw someone blow by a stopped bus with lights on.

backup Photo by Mike Hartley

So the chaos has begun. Well, it never really left, it just gets back to the worse parts of the year in both volume and weather issues. I’m someone who loves being behind the wheel. But this area is testing me. It has some of the most beautiful roads in the country. But they can either be parking lots or Death Race 2k tracks.

Please be careful folks. Remember the object isn’t to be there first but for all of us to get there alive.

The second item was my mother and father inlaw who are well into their senior years and lucky enough to have a lot of good children and grandchildren to help them out and through a transition to senior facilities.

I’m reminded of the caregiver responsibilities that I had with my mother. It was daunting at times and exhausting at others. But I would do it in a minute again with a smile on my face and will give any and all assistance needed for two people who have shown me a great love for many years and eased the loss of my own family.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I need some shrimp jammers from Tony’s pizza on the boardwalk. And of course a slice or two of pizza.
  • The death toll number in these storms shouldn’t be the focus. I’m not saying to exclude it from the news but don’t make it the focus.
  • I can’t imagine the horror those people experienced in the Bahama’s when you look at those images.
  • It’s all that you do with the time.

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Why are we so indifferent

Is it just a matter of taking the time to deal with an issue and then move along to another one? Have we just become too focused on ourselves? Have we lost hope that leaders will lead us in the right way? Are we not moved to do something ourselves? Am I relying on others where I should be doing more?

I’m guilty of it myself. For instance I can’t just sit and watch and not respond to the need from this storm so I’ll take some time to make a donation to the Red Cross tomorrow.

The rest of the week looks brighter.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I have to start working harder to correct some of the ill’s of society. Complain less and think what I can do to contribute.

OK, I’m picking up the cameras tomorrow regardless of what else I have to do. I’ve been very lazy with that over the weekend and its time to turn the tide. I promise, no more flower pictures for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Remember the kids are out and about tomorrow for school.
  • I love me some fruit pizza.
  • Ah, football season is upon us. Time to lose money to my son again. I really try but he is just better picking than I. Maybe this year I’ll be up at the end of the year. Go Pack
  • As you can guess, time got away from me today.
  • You know being out on Labor Day morning, I would say I saw about 1/100th at best the amount of traffic on the road. I guess lots of people take the day off.
  • I got so busy I forgot to say goodbye to August.
  • This is going to be a special month though, so I’m excited.

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Truly a labor day weekend

I did get a few minute’s family time today and it was great. It was the recharge I needed. Phone calls, facetime, and text don’t cut it after a while. So my holiday weekend wasn’t a loss at all. Other than those wonderful 5 hours, it will be spent doing labor so the title of the weekend is pretty accurate.

Flowers are like children. All beautiful and special in their own way.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though holiday weekends are slower and less staffed, it’s sometimes the young in experience staffing the ship so its always a challenge. Me, I’m an old-timer. And one who should be done working holiday weekends. I think I’m going to make that a project this evening and find out how many I’ve worked in the last 5 years in this position. I know its far more than my fair share.

Such is life. But my mind is really focused on that storm and my friends in the area of impact and another mass shooting. The randomness of both events is staggering. The destruction of each is also alarming. We might not be able to do anything about hurricanes except working to change our climate. But this random gun violence is something that could have quick action taken. And if that action saves a few lives isn’t that worth it?

Don’t wait till you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Get in touch with your elected officials and tell them you want action. To hell with the studies, people are dying.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It wasn’t hot today but I sure worked up a sweat grilling out this afternoon.
  • Its good to have my mother in-law out of the hospital.
  • I think I’ve built up a thirst for a large snowball tomorrow.
  • I salute all my working holiday stiffs. Someone has to do it.

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To me, butterflies are like the earth signaling I’m OK. It seems to be very good in my neck of the woods but tv is showing me a lot different in lots of this world.

We spend a lot of time predicting the weather when we all know its unpredictable.

When you get old and you can say you have had a lot of love in your life you have lived a good life.

The gates of Summer will only be open a few more weeks.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Things that bother my back – weeding and using the string trimmer for long periods. Let me stop there because the list is long and each day I get to add something it seems.

Writing in obscurity isn’t bad if you enjoy it. And I enjoy it so I let it flow.

It’s great learning what is unique and special about each person in your life.

Proof that time is the same on the dark side as it is in the light.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling kind of lonely today. Good thing children are coming tomorrow.

Some days I get so excited about being able to follow my pursuits full time and at the same time wonder if I will ever get the chance. I think I better work on working on my pursuits full time and my job that pays the bills full time before I run out of time.

I have to put on a pair of glasses to find the glasses I need to read with.

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What Holiday

Yes, I still get excited about holiday weekends. I make the best of the time I have with them. And yes they piss me off because I’m one of those people who work holidays.

A long pet peeve of mine which is another thing to look forward to in retirement, getting holidays with friends and family and not having to bolt off to work.

But I won’t rain on everyone’s parade. Get the grills going, the friends and family called and on their way. Oh yeah, chill a few cold ones and raise your glasses to another summer in the books. Stick those toes in the sand one more time. Work on that tan and try to relax enough to make it into the last quarter of the year.

I tend to take most of my vacation time during the summer months. Unless my wife’s birthday falls on a weekday I work I usually don’t take any time off till the start of June. I guess that is why my summer always goes so fast. I have a good time and getting out and about on my favorite season.

I already see leaves on my deck and when I mowed the yard today there were a number of them on the lawn. Another month or so and I’ll start getting depressed about taking on another winter season. Fall is nice and certainly beautiful, but that grey season of slush and salt and sinkholes on my favorite roads is a major depression for me.

I might just stay in this winter. I did a pretty good job last year of hibernating. I’m going to see if I can improve on that. I better get an advance notice out to my friends that I’ll be hosting a lot when the temp drops below 40 degrees.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Happiness is making a child smile and laugh.
  • There is peace on a lawnmower.
  • I just heard from one of my best friends in Florida who is hunkering down. As usual, he is helping someone less fortunate to be safer.
  • I think we take for granted how many people are not able to move out of the way of storms. Not everyone is well off or surrounded by friends and family.
  • Sometimes people flashback.
  • I’m in a creative drought. Well, at least it feels like that. I’m so tired all the time now. It could be from the lack of sleep I get.

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Chose that title today for two reasons. The first song I heard today was Bring it on Home by Led Zepplin and it starts off “Baby Baby.” The second reason is that I’m seeing my grandchild today and a baby and I can’t wait to make laugh.

What a beautiful day outside. Kind of put a jump back in my step. Love being able to have the top down on the car. Always feels great getting some sun on the body. And the ride home tonight was chilly but fun.

Selfie Zone
Photo by Mike Hartley

Got a recharge tonight by seeing my best friends. Well most of them. One is marooned down in Florida and I’m about to call him and tell him if he wants to come north he has a place to stay.

I know no place on this earth is safe from mother nature. But you won’t catch me living in tornado alley or in Florida or the gulf coast states. Yeah, I’m aware they can come this far north in Maryland. But the odds are much better here than the gulf states or Carolinas.

So I wish all the people in the path of this storm a safe passage.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is far too much carnage on the highways.
  • I guess its never too late to contemplate eating better.
  • I’m trying to put more compassion in my life. Some people insist on pushing the buttons that try to hide the mission.
  • Let me see, leafs falling, cool nights, sunflowers fading. NO, it can’t be the change of season already. NO NO NO.

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Drawing a blank

Drawing an inspirational blank this evening. Overtired and medicated so the normal stream of thought is impeded. I should just relax and let it flow but the body is in a knot today which is making that difficult. So I went looking for a few images from previous shoots because I didn’t like what I have snapped so far today.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I got busy and worked on some product photography earlier. Some practice and some shots of stuff I’m going to throw up on eBay. I haven’t tried that service yet and got to do a little reading on making a good experience for both myself and the buyer. I’ll let you know how that turns out later.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll work this evening on editing some family photos I took a while back and get them out. Maybe do a little planning for tomorrow and prep. Hopefully and early start and some good inspiration. Seeing the sunrise would be a good start.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So go with the flow. Time to get in the swing again and seek joy and relief.

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Good day

I say that (Good Day) in the form of a greeting. And in a sense that I hope everyone has had a good day. Can you image that? If everyone had a good day. Think of the possibilities. How would it change the perspective to have more good stuff than bad happening in your life? How would it change people and open their minds? How would it inspire and motivate everyone towards the next day?

I learn the more I focus on having a good day the more it tends to be one, the mindset of trying to do better and at the same time being satisfied with the position of life. There will always be some bad sprinkled in. Like the last few days with pain, but overall they have been wonderful days. Because I looked beyond that and accomplished much while a bit less than 100%.

Each day is like a wave. Some are good ones, some are weak. But riding them and having the anticipation for the next one is always the way to think.

Cool board man
Photo by Mike Hartley

On a site I follow, their question of the day was –

What’s the first thing you do every single morning after you wake up?

My answer was – I smile for a minute or two because I’m thankful to have another day. or I curse the pain for a minute or two and then smile because I’m thankful to have another day.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Life goes by in the blink of an eye. Enjoy each day like a glass of cold ice tea or lemonade on a hot summer day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m beginning to think Pringles are made with heroin. I can’t think of anything more addictive than that can of pressed potato chips. Well, maybe one other thing.
  • Saying a prayer for someone who has I’m sure said more prayers for others than I could ever say even if I did it 24 hours a day till I pass. For she is deserving of one for her recovery tomorrow.
  • I also am thinking of my daughter and daughter-in-law who return to the classrooms filled with students next week. I’m looking forward to their stories. We should value teachers. Not just because I have two of them, its because the role and job they do in it that is so important. They show caring, they generate excitement in learning, they teach social interaction and set standards. They teach limits and at the same time inspire greatness. Not to mention all the book stuff they teach.
  • OK, I promise no old photos tomorrow. Even if it means shooting on a cloudy and rainy day.

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Power through

A rough evening and Monday morning so I’m hoping things improve. Between work and other personal challenges its tough to find a few minutes to devote to this passion. Some days I find myself using this to get moving and ignore not feeling well and power through some of the trials we all face every day.

It could be a loved one in the hospital. It could be the thought of your children going through difficult phases and not being able to correct it. It could be personal pain or mental stress.

So I admit to slackness and will take the cheap way out for today’s post and utilize the National Dog Day to use a photo of my favorite dog. And that is my Son’s dog.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its the little things you do that can make you special.
  • Work is a lot less fun when you don’t have fun people to work with.
  • Pain is an attention getter.
  • Holly crap, where did all those people today on the highway come from. Oh that’s right. Schools are starting and vacations are over.

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Cut it

I miss the time I used to have when someone else cut my yard. But then again I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable last tonight going out to a nice dinner with friends if I spent the money on someone else doing my yardwork.

My yard could use some support if you’re not busy.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Plus it’s still fun getting out and making the property look good. I’ve got one of the nicest crops of cut weeds and crabgrass around. Trying to turn that tide on Mother Nature but she has endless resources and has recruited neighbors on either side of me that cultivate weed farms and the woods in the back so only the street in front holds back more invasions.

Sometime the weekend seems dominated by yard work. Guess that comes with some space. But enough about cutting grass and other associated task. Its time to kick off another work week.

Kind of hard to concentrate on another work week though. Had dinner with some friends on Saturday night. One was recently retired and the other had another year to go. I’m envious of this couple. I don’t like getting like this because it makes the drive and work week a struggle. But as I’m in my early 60’s I can’t help but look into the future a little bit and think about the days that are pretty much mine when I see others I know getting to this stage. They look so happy and relieved.

I have some friends who have retired early. I have some friends that will never be able to retire either because of poor planning or love of work. I love to work, just on the things I like so in reality I will probably never retire. And while I haven’t poorly planned I do have a few holes in the retirement years. So there is a possibility I might have to work a bit longer than I would have.

I just want to spend my days watching grandchildren, writing and photographing and carving. So I’m going to start practicing those things more so I can really get into the swing when the day comes.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you have alexa and a friend named Alexei, things can get confusing.
  • Sometimes trying to reach some people isn’t a good use of time.
  • I’m disappointed with myself on not doing any shooting this weekend.
  • OK, who turned off the heat? I want names.

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Random Thoughts

It’s nice to grow old if you have children and grandchildren to fuss over and love as long as the day is old.

Wow, now that was impressive. Almost like the sky opened up for that stroke.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t know which is showing their age more. My lawn tools or me.

No advice is sometimes the best advice to give.

I tried to beat the midnight deadline but I was running late. I shouldn’t have had that dessert tonight.

I’m going to bed because I have nothing more to give today.

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Move-in day

I was watching the news of all the kids moving into college for the new school year and wished in some way I had that opportunity to go off to college. I probably wouldn’t have utilized it well anyway but I wonder what could be different.

Then I was thinking and remembering the day we did that with our own children. The excitement, the tears, the hugs. I think kindergarten and college-going away hugs are some of the most intense there are with your children. For they and you realize at these two points they are off on their own in a different way for the first time.

The time between those two events (kindergarten and college) seems to have gone by in a blur once you find yourself packing up the SUV and driving them off to their college dorm. I still look at the pictures I have of my children on their moves to college and the first day.

Jeez, this was 11 years and a day ago that we were helping move our son into college.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But this coming week is something altogether new for me. In some ways, my heart even hurts more for this. My daughter is a teacher and returns to school this coming week (not that she hasn’t been there a few days already setting up) but this week she has to do something very hard. She has to leave her daughter for the first time and return to work.

I wish I could ease that feeling but it’s not possible. We are going to be helping and watching her ourselves a few days a week but I feel for them both so much. Children really are life.

Life seems to be a series of separations. Growing up ourselves, leaving home for school the first time. Leaving home to go to college. Leaving home and getting your own. Having your own children and having to leave them. Then watching them go off to school for the first time at various levels.

Watching your parents age, maybe watching them move from the family home to senior facilities. Seems like life is a series of separations that are so painful but at the same time looking back so important and successful and needed at the different stages of life.

The ability to live and survive on our own are developed in how we handle these situations. I didn’t have the funds to go off to college or the brains to have someone else pay for it. So I kind of missed the college experience except for 1 year at community college and I didn’t realize that part-time job that turned into a full time one I took to help pay for it was going to be my career.

Be thankful you have the opportunity to experience these separations. There are parents now that wish they could experience watching their children return to school instead of being in a hospital. Be thankful you are there for your children because there are a lot of kids that only share going off to school or college with one parent and sometimes none.

So to my daughter. Always remember you are the flower and the love you give will always return to you and be there for you as it has been for us.

Let your children fly.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And to the leaders and future leaders of this country. Start to look at how other countries (like Canada) and how they place the importance of a new child and the time they give the parents before returning to work or in holding their jobs. If you say you are trying to improve things, start by improving the family structure and ability to survive.


Karma will correct

Does karma really correct things? I believe in most cases, yes and some no. That is why I don’t always rely on it to do the job. I see karma work and my mind says to trust it because you can relax and worry about what is important in life. Let go and move on I tell myself.

But sometimes I have trouble letting go. Especially when it’s personal. But I will try again for peace and let things fall as they do.

I think of important loved ones when I see flowers.
Photo by Mike Hartley

As I hear it said, life is to short to worry about the small stuff. And worrying about if others trying to get over is not a good investment of time.

So here is a beautiful start to a wonderful Wednesday. I’m up early because the body said wake up in a sudden manner this morning. As Jackie Gleason would say in Smokey and the Bandit – “That’s an attention-getter.” But instead of getting kicked in the ass, mine was a back spasm that left no doubt I was AWAKE AND UP. Well, up is a relative term if you call moving to the floor on all fours to catch your breath. It

Good thing that passed. I liken my back to let’s say the series of fault lines out in California. Lots of little quakes (pain/discomfort). Then some significant earthquakes that rock foundations and take a while to recover from. Stuff that takes your breath away and sometimes the eyes to water. Or sometimes the pain for hours till meds are used for relief. And we’re both waiting for the BIG ONE. Yeah, its almost just a matter of time or stresses we put on it for it to rupture.

One of my best friends is urging that I try a chiropractor before thinking about the surgery which is something the doctors have floated. But they have recommended against that idea of chiropractic treatments. I don’t want to do more damage or make it worse. I’m also not a fan of surgery and hospitals.

I haven’t done myself any favors if I’m honest with myself. I need to stretch and exercise more. I could lose 10 lbs. I need to sit for shorter periods but that is hard with the work I do and standing in one spot kills me. I’ve got to get back to work on strengthening the CORE.

Of course, some severe auto accidents and some hard physical work in my younger years have made that core less than solid. There are times where I can do days of physical work in a row and not have pain. I can lean over and pick up a towel and be brought to my knees and in pain for hours.

Some days I can walk for hours and feel great. Sometimes walking to the end of the driveway I wonder if I can make it back. Pain doesn’t make reservations, it shows up when it pleases.

I have to get this pecker off my back.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And if I’m going to sit for long periods at work I need to use proper posture. I might have to revert to electric shock to take me out of decades of bad sitting habits. Like the photo above it has led to pounding holes in my spine.

But like I said, it’s a great Wednesday. And I will power through. I’m just glad to be as healthy as I am.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel the need for a snowball. No not the throwing kind, the eating kind.
  • Oh NO – The back to school crowd will be on the roads again soon.
  • I wasted some energy today. I’ll try to make up for it tonight.
  • Whoops, forgot to push the publish button before midnight. Such is life.

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If this were my dog no amount of cash for GOLD would do. And I wouldn’t have them laying on those hot metal steps. Felt a little sorry for this guy but you can’t judge one image and get the whole story. He may be very loved and well cared for and I hope that is the case.

How people take care of pets is a wide-ranging picture. Hell, how we take care of each other as humans is deplorable sometimes so we shouldn’t be surprised about some animals. Even though it’s no less cruel and brutal and wrong whether it’s a pet or person.

Some gold can’t be measured.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Animals are a responsibility that has as many interpretations as there are people taking care of or not of them. I love animals. I probably have spoiled a few in my lifetime. I get great joy from my family pets. And we gladly take care of them when they are away. My friend’s pets are just part of “The Boys” gatherings. Well, one of the dogs is a girl but she more than holds her own with the boys.

And they follow our lead. They get a little rowdy, loud and excited. Maybe some wrestling and then falling asleep in basement chairs. It’s only a matter of who gets to the good spots first.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I get to stay dry today even if the sky’s do open up again.
  • Pain gives pause. Well, maybe it insists on pause.
  • Only two days till I get to make my granddaughter laugh.

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And we’re off again

Starting another work week mixed with the usual trials and tribulations that go along with life. And this week looks hectic as hell. It’s always a challenge to do posts on weeks like this.

I should do what I see other people trying to post daily do. They get ahead. I’m not sure how or where to purchase this specific skill. And if I’d be disciplined enough to use it correctly.

I wonder if anyone takes one of these on a Monday morning commute?
Photo by Mike Hartley

I always start my week off by doing something special just for me. I have this countdown to my imaginary retirement date and I keep track of how many weeks I have to go. So on Monday I cross off another week completed. It really shows me how fast time goes. And what might seem like a long time to some, will go by fairly fast for me. Actually, it scares me how fast it’s gone since I’ve started. And that scares me because that means I’m getting older quickly. I’ve learned to look forward to retirement age, but not too fast, please.

This countdown allows me to savor it in a different view. Situations that are difficult I can deal with better because I know one day I won’t have to deal with it any longer. And while I’ll work for positive accomplishments and change, I’m not dragging anyone along or leading the charge any longer. And you know what, that is actually fun because I don’t feel responsible for the success of the team or organization anymore. Most of my career I’ve worked for others and worked like I was a part-owner of the company. Well, that is an illusion in most cases. And while I don’t regret any of it and I’m kind of compelled to work that way anyway, I enjoyed growth in both personal, team and organizations.

It’s good to feel proud of your work. No matter what it is. But don’t let work consume or define you. My life was out of balance many times because of work. Still is sometimes now, but I feel much more in control.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Don’t you just love sitting on a boardwalk bench or wall and just watching people go by?
  • OK, I’m going to be a wimp. The AC will be used today instead of the top-down because it feels over 100 degrees. But tomorrow morning it will be down. Summer mornings and evenings are great.
  • I’m waiting for sea-level rise to give me a beachfront property.
  • I could watch butterflies fly all day.

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Always say I love you

First off start with finding someone or better yet, many people you can honestly say “I love you” to. If not possible now get to work on relationships that will provide you those opportunities and when it is there for you say it often and with meaning.

When you leave your loved ones I think it’s always wise to say “I love you” and I say it often. That along with actions will always be with them. They will remember the love and it will carry them.

So create that perfect pair that just screams I Love You.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even when I can’t say it directly I send a text or leave a note for my better half. I tell my friends often of my love for them. I always tell my children a few times every week I love them. That would be more but they are grown now.

I know I always feel good when I say it and it seems to make others know it stronger. I remember my Mom saying it. I miss that greatly but like I said I always will remember her love and her saying it often.

So find the right people. Say it often and with meaning. Brighten someones day and maybe you will get one back.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking positive thoughts for someone very important in the hospital.
  • If you like the heat, soak it up because its soon to be gone.
  • I’ve noticed the days getting shorter on daylight.
  • I should keep track of the number of days I ride with the top down. Was a bit warm today but I just thought of a cold December day and it made it OK.

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A day in the life

Up early with a stuffy head. Wishing hours later I had stayed in bed.
Took an early ride before the heat set in. It was so short, it was a sin.
Ah, the time to cruise mindlessly around the county. Such a wonderful bygone bounty.
A visit and call from both our children again. I wish those visits and calls would never end.
A lazy afternoon, I feel guilty about taking the time. At least it was all on my dime.

I know I didn’t do my best here, and no I wasn’t out drinking beer. I was regrouping a bit, before having the other end of the candlelit. Downtime isn’t a sin, better than notifying the next of kin.

Come on guys, catch up.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So take a break, you are the only one who knows what pressure and stresses your under. Don’t leave others you encounter with puzzlement and wonder. Try to get a grip and relax a while. Maybe some you time will bring back that smile.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Wonderful evening dinner with my better half. Very relaxed and shared a laugh. Not to mention a very fine meal. My better half and good food, what a deal.

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Running on empty

After doing battle with the yard all day I’m spent. But I’m very glad I’m not in pain. Sometimes those two go together. But not tonight. Another fight is scheduled for tomorrow and I feel in control.

Sometimes working hard physically gets me mentally refreshed. With a desk job, the physical outlet isn’t there during the week at the job that pays the bills. Good thing I enjoy doing a few things around the house to keep me active.

Precision randomness.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m getting up early and going for some fresh images. Maybe before daybreak. All that work and no play today have me thinking about some time for the crafts and car.

Hopefully tonight I’ll edit the wedding pictures from last weekend and videos. Then upload those and send out links.

But then back to reality and taking care of the homestead and some quality time with my better half.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I went the whole day without a Coke. Tell the company not to panic. I’ll be picking up a 12 pack in the morning.
  • I’m on a fruit and nut kick.
  • I just added a good thing to the to-do list for tomorrow. Spend an hour in the hammock.
  • Creative drought today. Thinking about my better half and mother inlaw who spent the day and evening at the local medical facility.
  • I’ll do better tomorrow.

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Don’t waste it

Every once in awhile I have no idea what to ramble on about. But even when I sit down with nothing, I can’t pass the opportunity to try to create something with words and images. I keep dreaming of saying something or having that image that will resonate with both others and myself.

I’ve started hundreds of posts filled with rants about society or politics that I have to suppress. Or gleeful writing of feelings too wonderful to describe in words that just seem too mushy. These are hidden from you in my drafts which are approaching 300 now.

I have found trying to stay light and positive here helps me on the outside also. This whole process has helped me grow.

More from Olympic Park
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m torn between posting more because as my friends might say I can ramble on easily and the images I make that inspire me to some train of thought so often just starts the process. On the flip side, am I just going on about life in general, too much of the same thing and I should limit the jabber. Or only post images that are clearly stunning? (that would rule out a lot of my work).

I don’t know if I should just be displaying photos only, which were my original intent when I started blogging but I just went with the flow and started writing.

Actually, I became interested in writing when I partnered up with two great friends and started our own newspaper. I didn’t get much of a chance to even start but the thought of having a voice and communication vehicle to share it with brought a smile to my face.

Slow down and look.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I go back and forth each day. Some days I feel like I should write a poem, do a larger post with many more random thoughts that pass through my day. Then, of course, I always feel compelled to share an image or more. I’d like to do progress reports on learning to carve. Let’s see, that’s 4 posts a day? Way too much or is it?

I could go on endlessly about the publishing industry. The characters I’ve met and the changes I’ve seen and experienced and continue to go through today. There are wonderful and painful memories of 4+ decades in newspapers.

Children playing in fountains.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Hell, I can write about being a new grandfather endlessly if I had the time. The utter joy I feel has made life more special than I had known before, it has recharged me in the way my own children did when they were born.

Really I just don’t want to waste any opportunity I have to create and share and ramble on. Be it some life experiences and photos of my travels and where I live threw my eyez. But what is the right balance?

Don’t let an opportunity to walk through a fountain pass you by.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Should I do 200, 500 or 1000 words a day? How many images should I share a day? Do I break series up over a week or just do a big gallery? What time of day should I post? You know what, I don’t care much because those things limit me and my creativity. If you feel it you should go with the flow.

Good inspiration doesn’t always come around each day so when it does I’m utilizing it. And if it inspires me a few times a day so be it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m back to putting together children’s toys. It’s great.
  • Fruit, what a good snack. It’s really good over ice cream. Ops guess that isn’t right.
  • I’m here to inspire other writers who read this and say, “I can do a lot better than that.”
  • Find your passion or passions. You will be much happier.
  • Good writing takes time. I don’t have much to spare so you get what you get.

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Get inline

I sometimes feel like I’m the one thing out of place. I don’t know why because I try to fit in. Well, not all the time. I do march to my own beat. But I do know you’re stronger as a team and always try to work in that concept.

I’ve been in some great teams over time both professionally, personally and socially. But teams change over time. Success or failure can bring stresses to the team that people don’t deal with equally well.

Sometimes egos, greed or need for control also change teams dramatically. Mutual respect and trust changes can destroy the best of teams. The best teams I’ve seen contain diverse personalities, skills, and thoughts. But the key factor to that success is respect, trust, and knowledge that as part of that team they will be much more together than they ever could be apart again and they work to adapt, change and modify to the success of the team while keeping their unique contributions.

Sometimes I feel like the dish on the top row to the right.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m sitting here feeling beyond tired. I’ll probably be snoring before I hit the pillow in a while. I shouldn’t get this way but life happens. There are a lot of sleep-deprived people staggering around out there.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some lessons are never learned.
  • I can’t decide if I should get ahead or just catch up?
  • Is it really wrong to put a V8 into a Miata? A thought I wrestle with.
  • I’m working on the thought of working out.

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A step towards that goal

I wish I was more goal orientated in my youth. At least I’m correcting that before life passed me by. Well, I guess some might say I’ve wasted a big part of it and they may be right. But I feel I have a lot more to give and do. Its because I’m using goals be they small or large, I work towards them all the time now.

Go for the Gold and no I didn’t photoshop those shoes.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s not the end result when the goal is reached. It’s the love for it during the journey. That is the victory no matter if you win gold, silver or bronze. Hell, I’ve finished out of the medal round and I’m still the happiest person because I’m enjoying, learning and experiencing the journey.

I started a business once. It was brutal but one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done and learned from. I could easily see others thinking it might be a failure but they know very little.

This blog and my photography are hobbies that I hope to turn professional once I leave the job that pays the bills. The chance to be successful are slim and none but I don’t care. It makes me happy and occasionally I’ll either brighten someones day or excite them with images or give them food for thought. But my success doesn’t balance on the number of followers. It doesn’t hang on comments or how many posts I make or photos I take.

For instance its already a victory for me. Loved ones are interested in it and that is really all I need. It validates me, not recognition or awards or likes. Just the effort is something I’m starting to take more pride in.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I gave Facebook a break for several days and it felt good. Not that I spent a lot of time there anyway but it reminded me not to spend more and maybe even less.
  • Just read the bowling ally I grew up rolling at in Laurel is closing. I wonder if I have my duckpin balls stored away someplace from my early youth?
  • Keeping in touch with people that are important to you is important. Not everyone is a mind reader.
  • I have added something to my breakfast menu. Tacos were on the plate today. I have no idea why I went with them but it was good.

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I don’t know if its dangerous sometimes when I have time to think but I did so I’m going to share a few thoughts. I got to thinking about perspective on the flight home. The wonderful sunset and night views and eastern seaboard from the airplane.

Even the pilots commented getting off the flight next to us about how clear the view was last evening. I don’t fly much at all so seeing from heights like that are a treat. You see towns and cities in a new light. Huge bodies of water are reduced to a single frame.

As I watch people I gain new perspectives from both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. I’m trying to get back to sometimes putting myself in the other person shoes to try to gain a better understanding.

Did you see that breeze honey?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes stepping away from something for a while can shed perspective. Just not blogging for 4 days after doing it daily almost for over a year gave me a fresh perspective. I didn’t die or have a heart attack because I didn’t do it. I didn’t get hate mail because I didn’t do it. I missed it but taking the break has provided a fresh perspective and more excitement in returning to it.

As I mentioned a while back, I’m a rather new grandparent. The perspective of having a grandchild is so wonderful. I was talking to the mother of the bride at a wedding we just returned from who also had a new grandchild a few months older than ours and the excitement and appreciation for it we were able to share was outstanding. It’s much different than going through it as a parent.

Being away for a long weekend gave me a new perspective on work and it’s real role in my life. Dancing with young people gave me a new perspective on what my body will and will no longer do.

Not driving for 4 days gave me a new perspective because I got to watch others drive and watch others doing messed up things more.

Our hotel room was up a bit and gave me a beautiful perspective on the city of Montreal as well as a wonderful and changing skyline. Getting out and walking several miles each day was wonderful to catch all the things I miss when I’m in a car.

I watched people dine out. Being we were away we did a lot of it the last few days. I now see why we Americans are so overweight as a country.

I listened to people talk about the warm/hot weather in Montreal and thought about how comfortable it was. Especially when I got in my car this afternoon and it was in the mid 90’s. Of course that temp would be comfortable to many in warmer climates. So it’s all a matter of perspective.

I watched a newly married couple share joy with both families and friends. And I thought how mine has changed over the last four decades. Some for the better and some for the worse.

I’m glad I feel more in tune with myself now. Its been a long time coming but better late than never. Good thing I had a perspective break to appreciate what I have again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was so excited about shooting some this past weekend away that I came home and immediately charge all the camera batteries.
  • The more time I spend with my better half the more special that half becomes.
  • I also feel like the luckiest father in the world today.
  • I was going to wash my car but I believe Mother Nature has that plan for tomorrow.

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Today is National Purple Heart Day. I found this one in an old trunk from my parents. I actually think it may belong to my great grandfather who was in WW1. It was there with other ribbons from battles in that war and a couple of German ribbons and medals I guess he acquired.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I have much respect for our military servicemen and women. And to all their families who have to make sacrifices along with way when apart. Also to those who return with the emotional scars from the trauma of conflict.

You don’t have to wait for a day to thank a service member. Make it a habit when you see a uniform or veterans.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its both what you do and what you say that is important. And if they don’t match you have issues.
  • I sense a relaxing weekend ahead.
  • Respect for my children grows constantly. I’m a lucky father.
  • The second day this week being caught in brutal weather while driving. Hopefully, I’m done with that streak for the week.

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I’m amazed at some people’s ability to forgive. At times I’ve thought of it as blind faith. Sometimes even ignorance or refusal to accept. But as I’ve aged I see the ability to forgive, puts you back in control of the situation. I saw a family of one of the shootings that had lost 2 family members and the strength they had was amazing.

If a loved one is killed. And that person had love, gave love and was loved, why would you teach or encourage their survivors to hate. But my normal reaction is that. Hate and rage encompass me when I feel I’ve been wronged. Through time I’ve learned to control and even with wisdom, I’m learning to let things go because it does me no good to harbor ill feelings.

Burning into the evening
Photo by Mike Hartley

I have some friends that seem to have an unlimited wealth of forgiveness. I’m amazed and I respect that ability. But then again they don’t have to drive in the DC/Baltimore region.

No really, hate is the root of the problem. Trouble is it doesn’t stand out enough at times because there is an abundance of it.

I’m also amazed at the regular reaction of people to rush out and buy more arms in fear they will be outlawed. Stories of gun manufacture stocks going up after mass shootings caught my eye this time. I thought how sad that we feel we need a closet that looks like this.

No this isn’t my closet.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The Cough is back. Coughing hurts. It’s embarrassing. It’s disruptive. Back to carrying an inhaler. It seems to be a seasonal thing with me. Guess its time to find the bag of cough drops.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The last few days have been the definition of hit and miss storms.
  • Ah, the rumbling of Summer.
  • I’m out of time. I’m out of energy. I must recharge.

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A flash

Life is taken in a flash. The value of life is diminished. Fights over policy and rights. Flowers are laid and crosses made. Talking heads bark at each other like rabid dogs.

Violence marches on unabated, be it a foul word or symbol, be it a speech or be it a punch or shots. Be it in a church, hospital, business or home. Entitlement runs rampant, intimidation and fear paralyze the masses and our leaders.

It’s going to take all of us to set a new direction and standard or we will fall back to days worse than the wild west. We were known in the world for mostly doing the right thing. No longer is that the case. The curtain has been pulled back. We are no better than most areas of the world because we have forgotten how to deal with conflict effectively and peacefully.

Basic compassion for your fellow man/woman/child/animal/nature is diminished by the violence and greed. Evil seems to be implanted or scratched out from deep-seated hate.

We expect things from our law enforcement and health care workers that are far greater than they are sometimes capable of or trained to deal with. Do we start seeding our hospitals with war veteran doctors capable of dealing with war wounds? Do we send a mental health professional and ambulance to every police call?

We need to expect more from ourselves. We need to repair our families. We need to be less selfish with our time and help others less fortunate. We need to learn to become more tolerant and seak to understand differences.

And while gun control could be one step. Maybe a focus on mental health. Maybe a stronger family and respect system built. It’s not just one of these it’s many more that results in a culture change by all of us that says this shouldn’t continue. And we can do that regardless of what some leaders might say.

Shooting shells. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish I had more time to devote to this blog and my photography.
  • You can’t change lazy people.
  • I long to have a cat again.
  • I’ve really got to express myself more.

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One of those weekends

This much carnage can’t help but give everyone pause. Well most at least I hope. I’m sure there are a few that behind closed doors or keyboards will kind of revel in these events.

A weekend to turn you upside down.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I wonder at what point we will stop what we are doing and react as a whole to this and other serious issues? And I include myself in this. And by other serious issues I also mean the carnage that goes on every day of the year. Tons of people are dying each day due to violence. A lot more than what we see in these mass shootings that get all the news.

I really have to have a heart to heart with myself and see what I can do to get involved in action on the senseless loss of life from so many guns. We need to have ongoing discussions and action not just when these events transpire but till the wasted lives taken too soon for any number of reasons is reduced.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being an older photographer, I appreciate autofocus most of the time.
  • Seems like we have an issue with domestic terrorist more so than with foreign ones.
  • I believe in local journalism. Trouble is its disappearing.
  • I still like wall calendars with muscle cars on them.
  • If you work on being happy, you will learn you can overcome a lot of things.

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Saturday salutations

A fine start to the day. The first day I’ve gotten up in a while and not felt compelled to get to work on a yard or home or job project. Nice to have a few minutes relaxed to just start writing instead of looking for those few seconds or minutes between tasks to germinate an idea and run with it.

The afternoon was a fine treat also. I had to get a new belt for an upcoming wedding and I thought of going someplace we hadn’t been in a long while. I thought it might be a good idea to hit Arundel Mills Mall. And being the Casino is right there we could have lunch and play a game or two.

We ate at Bobby’s Burger Place and it was great. Very good burgers and sides. I was going to get a shake but I resisted. We then played a few slots and maybe lost $15 for the day and then walked over to the new hotel they have there.

A day of love.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It wasn’t what we did. It isn’t where we were. I wasn’t how long the afternoon was. It was about 2 people being happy and content and in love again this Saturday. And I can’t wait to do it all over again this Sunday no matter what we do.

Yeah, I need an editor. And a proofreader. And a designer and writer. I knew I was weak at the art of the written word. I knew I wasn’t the brilliant idea person who would write the Pulitzer award-winning pieces. What spurred this train of thought was reading a blog post called Six Simple Writing Tips.

First I need to spend more time rereading my work. I find and correct many things when I do a second, third, fourth or fifth read. Trouble is I never get past a second read most days.

The next suggestion was short words, sentences, and paragraphs. I think I follow that fairly well because I only know short words. I type in incomplete sentences all the time so I guess you could say that is short. And I think my paragraphs are fairly short.

The third tip was to be a clutter cutter. I get rid of words and sentences. It might not just be evident to the reader. I promise to do better.

Tip four was proper grammar punctuation and font. I wish I was better at that and now use Grammarly to assist my lack of knowledge and paying attention in English class.

Tip five was don’t summarize. This isn’t that hard, most of my post doesn’t have a point, to begin with so summarizing would be difficult.

The last one was to read good writing. That is something I haven’t tried. I do read a lot but not much of the classics.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • That thunderstorm that has been threatening all day is finally here. Rumble on.
  • Congrats to Ed Reed, really enjoyed watching him play.
  • Anticipation is a wonderful thing if its about a wonderful thing.
  • For me its more of a problem as to what not to say.

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You ever get so tired you have nothing left for what you wanted to do the most? That is kind of where I’m at now. I’ve started two posts and realized I wasn’t going to have time to finish either of them in time before the midnight deadline.

Get Hammered Photo by Mike Hartley

Plus its shark week and I should get back to the show and watch someone else get eaten.

Shark Photo by Mike Hartley

Now that most of the chores are done, I think we have some time to capture some images tomorrow and spend a few moments with my better half.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It feels good when you can help others make a good decision.
  • You ever get so tired you feel drunk with taking a drink?
  • I think I saw some leafs falling today. It can’t be, its only August.
  • Any day you can ride with the top down, it’s a good day.

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All in a day

It’s amazing all the things you can encounter in a day. Spent a few minutes helping a friend this morning. I wish I could reach him more but for some change is very difficult. It was nice getting out this morning and instead of going with the masses I took the back roads to Columbia to give my friend a lift. Some of the back roads in the county are still really nice. This morning’s combination of sun and morning mist made a nice view down Folly Quarter.

Into the Mist.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I was thinking about heading to the beach and given all the sunshine I’m seeing this morning I should have. But I decided on a good night’s sleep and some home chores. It’s good getting the morning errands run and finishing the weekly yard work before rains come the next few days.

It’s time to do some indoor shooting. Got both tripods out and set up this evening in the basement. Got a few backgrounds ready. Now all I need is some subject matter. Time to get on that search.

I need to be more productive this Friday and Saturday than I was today on my crafts. Let’s see if Mr. Lack of Discipline can pull that off.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I didn’t wash my car. It didn’t rain.
  • I feel the need to sleep in tomorrow.
  • It’s a great feeling to make others laugh.
  • I really need to use my smartphone camera more.
  • Stay involved, not obsessed.

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How the hell did this happen

The Howard County Fair opens this weekend 8/3 and yours truly is eligible for the senior discount. I remember going to the fair as a teen. Working at the fair in my early 20’s at the Times Information booth. Yeah, we had the PA system also.

I went there with my better half for years. We then took our children there. I’ve gone in recent years with my children and their spouses. Sometimes alone recently for nostalgia and to grab a few images. And maybe next year I’ll be taking my granddaughter to it.

Pumpkin from Bumpkin Yes that is a full-size skid under it. Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t know how so much time passed so fast but it has. And I’m thankful for it because that means I’ve been a very lucky man to live, enjoy and witness these and many other wonderful moments with my family and friends.

A pair of my favorites. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I wonder now if the fair will survive. Farms seem to be on the menu of developers. How many people in million-dollar homes enjoy the smell of farm animals or parking their high-end car in a field. But in some ways, the fair seems as strong as ever. I hope it never fades away. I hope it’s there to have families wander hand in hand. Take their children on rides. Eat a good pit beef sandwich and other heart-stopping treats. For youngsters on a date. For grandparents to take their grandchildren. To get some fresh fruit or corn.

Who knows, maybe that tractor you saw caught your eye and you just have to have it to cut that huge yard. Try making it a tradition, it might not be your favorite of all of them but it will be one that brings a smile to your face.

Ferris B. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • So there is money in playing video games.
  • Feeling in tune today for some strange reason. Maybe it’s because I had the day off from the job that pays the bills. Very sweet indeed. The body has been moving all morning to some music.
  • Light on my feet. Quick with a smile. Lyrics flowing off my tongue. The hair on my neck standing on end with flashbacks to my youth or a live concert. Damn, I’m relaxed today.



I can’t help but get stressed out when people close to me encounter tough times. Got a few of them right now going through changes. But that is life. Change and how we react to it. Each day is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes life greets you with an empty box.

At times things that seem to be catastrophic become a blessing. I once got what I thought was a good job. It lasted about 3 months before I found out what it really was, a nightmare. I then got a job that has been a wonderful opportunity that I have embraced. But after 20+ years that has also gone through several changes, not all to my liking at times so even good things change and morph.

I deal better with change now than I did before but I’m far from perfect with doing it. I do know the more flexible I am the easier I can make adapting to a change. Glad I learned this lesson now instead of fighting it the rest of my life.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve always done well with change professionally within the job. Hell, I’ve driven some of it at various times. But I had issues with the change I did didn’t agree with or understand. I also have trouble having the confidence to make job changes.

I think I’ll learn more if I adapt to change better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I actually felt bad about not doing a post yesterday. Its because I felt bad.
  • It’s getting sad when we just blow off these mass shootings or even the daily individual shootings each day because another one comes the next day. I’m beginning to think that only when the number of people affected by them outnumbers those who aren’t will there be any action taken.
  • I live in District 7 of Maryland and I’m human and I like living here. Are there sections that need help? Yes. But look at the country as a whole and a lot of it needs serious help. Oh and statistically there are more rats in NYC and Washington than in Baltimore.
  • Let us see, he has called me less than human because of where I live. He has called me unpatriotic because I’m a Democrat. He has called me the enemy of the people because I work in the publishing industry. He knows nothing about me.

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Off the rails

Welcome to the Divided States of America. I guess it’s been that way for some time but common issues, common sense, and common decency all seem to have gone out the door. And I’m wondering how many decades it will be till they return.

The train is no longer on the tracks.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not surprised we have differences. We have always had differences. It’s how we have decided to go about them that has changed. And that Jennie isn’t going back in the bottle for a long time or till its resolved.

OK, I’ll get back on a positive slant here. This has been a good summer so far and I hope to keep it on track this week. Got a day of vacation scheduled and lots of plans for this week. Time to get the camera back in my hands. Time to create and interact with the community. Time to try to make a positive difference.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m enjoying being a ragtop man.
  • Where did July go? Noo, summer is slipping away.
  • For as much time as I spend in DC, I haven’t seen a lot of it.
  • Arguing or responding to someone whom you have no respect for is a waste of time.
  • Look for things to be thankful for and you will be much happier.
  • You can learn a lot about life by watching sports. Lessons like not giving up. Not getting too high during successful times or too low during troubling times.

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Watering myself

No, I didn’t piss myself. Not that old yet. I’m talking about watering my mind and body. Well, I’m doing a better job on the mind as compared to the body but working on both. Getting my priorities straight and keeping my mental health strong against the opposing forces that come my way.

I’ve had an amazing run of time where doing some physical work hasn’t hurt me. Feeling stronger because of it. Learning to work with age. Taking more breaks. Keeping hydrated and not biting off more than I can do. Who knew taking care of myself would be helpful.

I had a wonderful breakfast with some old friends this morning. Good to see everyone doing well. I get great enjoyment from such long term and solid relationships. Laughter and Love, what my can you ask for.

Flower Fireworks
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well we have known each other so long the abuse also is thrown in but its all a great time. That’s the second get together this weekend with great friends. I’m one lucky camper. And of course, I have my Better Half. My best friend, which might make me the luckiest camper around.

More fireworks from nature.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s possible to be tired from doing nothing. At least that is what I’ve heard.
  • We had a conversation about sleep today. Kind of makes me wonder if anyone is getting enough.
  • I’m on a mission to make my work week shorter than the weekend.
  • Can I get a do-over on my stupid years?

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The Spot

You know the saying, “X marks the Spot.” Well, does it? I just happened to be strolling down Tiber Alley in Ellicott City the other day when I came upon this mark on the asphalt. Or should I say marks? You can see the shadow of a faint start to another X. I’m guessing someone changed course and decided on a different spot.

X marks what spot for you?
Photo by Mike Hartley

To me, it’s OK to change your point. Be it a starting one, midpoint or finish line. Sometimes when you are experiencing the journey you learn and sometimes change your focus point.

I thought I was starting something 6 years ago when I started blogging. Only in the last year have I put down a pace of posting that I originally intended (daily).

I hoped to have fresh photo content every day. I still haven’t reached that goal but I’m doing better each year. Lots of things have taken place between my starting point and now. Life happens every day and no matter your intentions, it gets complicated. I struggle with wanting to do what I would like versus staying with a tried and true income/job. It’s made more difficult by having the least investment emotionally in the people I work with now. Most of my old friends have retired. It’s much different than it used to be even though its the same company that I’ve been coming into more than the last 2 decades.

So I try to keep a balance. I do my professional job well and try to squeeze into the remainder of the week as much as I can. I’ve started to look at that remaining time very closely. I’m starting to edit out some huge time killers. TV is a big one. I’m getting to the point where I don’t feel like I have to sit in front of that box. For instance, right now the ballgame is on and I’m just listening to it and writing this as I type. If something comes up with my team I might run around the corner and catch a replay, but I’m getting some work done and having some relax time at the same time. Well, let me get back to editing a few more shots.

Random Thoughts fo the Day

  • The most popular words on daytime tv seem to be either “if you or a family member” and “The law offices of XY&Z”
  • My family might think I like cutting grass and yard work. I do like the exercise but I do it for the view when I’m done each week.
  • A happy man I am. Well, most days.
  • The D7100 and a zoom lens is a heavy combination. I’m going to have to stay in shape or start using a tripod more.

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Every once in awhile I ask myself what am I doing. And by that, I mean with my blog and hobbies. Yeah, they are hobbies, but ones I enjoy a lot. They are more of a passion than hobbies.

Snapped these images from my neighbors garden today. Photos by Mike Hartley.

I’d love to spend more than a few minutes here and there working on my crafts but I just haven’t made it the priority I had hoped. When I started I easily thought I could pull together a post or two a day. The things to write about and photograph were endless. The images of designs and treatments to accompany the work. The interaction with the community. The incorporation of video and carvings and sculptures.

I thought I could do a lot more and maintain a busy personal and professional life. I was wrong and right. I have done a lot with the time I’ve had. And I underestimated the job of doing everything myself. That has been a common mistake of mine over history.

But I’m happier than ever. I’ve used it to look at myself a little more. I’ve used it to help work through some issues. I’ve gotten enjoyment from starting this and some work on my photo site. But time is moving by me very fast and if I want to get nearer my goals I’m going to have to shape up and do more. So here is my fresh start.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Laughter is really the best medicine.
  • You’ve heard of “Hammer Time.” Well at my house we have “Hammock Time”
  • And a special day it was.
  • The more relaxed I am, the more creative I feel.
  • I keep fighting the urge to add Instagram to my ritual of social media behaviors.
  • I believe I missed going to the county fair last year. I don’t think I’m going to miss it this year. I mean its a bargain because I finally qualify for the Senior discount price for entrance.

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Here we go

I was reading the question of the day from another blog I follow and it was ” If you could switch places with someone for a week, with whom would you like to do it and why? Well, this got me thinking of course. And even though I comment fairly often and enjoy it, I thought my answer to this one might be a bit long for a comment.

I’d like to know what it is like to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Photo by Mike Hartley

First off, I’m entirely happy being me. I haven’t always been, but I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. Well maybe a healthier version of me without the cancers and back issues. This is especially true since I’ve really started to appreciate what I’ve been given. So the short answer is no thanks, I might miss something very special in my own life if I were to trade places with someone for a week.

But as I thought about it, and I chuckled, a few things popped to mind. First, a number of people entered my head so I thought I’d break the week up into days. On Monday I’d like to be either Richard Pryor or George Carlin to know what comic genius feels like.

On Tuesday I’d like to be Kobe and Shaq for a day to see what incredible physical gifts in my favorite sport felt like. On Wednesday I’d like to devote the day to music and be able to play drums like Neal Peart and keyboards like Billy Powell and guitars like Eric Clapton and bass like John Entwistle.

On Thursday I’d like to spend the day outside being Ansel Adams photographing and all evening in the studio being Annie Lebovitz.

On Friday I’d like to be Myron Mixon and cook up the best and largest bbq for my family and friends. Add in some crabs also.

On Saturday I’d like to spend a few moments as my wife, my children, and my best friends to understand what would make me a better husband, father, and friend. On Sunday I’d like to be a younger version of myself and pass on a boatload of wisdom that I needed when I was younger.

Actually, I might ask for a few weeks because I can think of some more people I’d like to change places with.

  • I’d like to find the most giving person alive and feel what it’s like to be selfless.
  • I’d like to change places with the Dad I never got to know to find out what he was like.
  • I’d like to see what it felt like to be Dale Earnhart racing to victory.
  • I had better stop this before I bore people.

I got my ass in gear today and hoisted the camera for a few images. Might even head back out this evening and grab a few night frames. Really going to try to get fresh material in this each day.

I didn’t realize till I got home and did some editing of my walk around Ellicott City today that I had a lot of glass in my shots.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more I do the more I’m inspired to do. At least in my own work.
  • Two very longtime friends moving away this next month. Not far enough to keep us apart but will make the frequency of visits less often I fear.
  • Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time. If you get that feeling a lot, you’re doing well.
  • Tomorrow is going to be special for a number of reasons.
  • Any day you can start off by helping someone, its a nice start.

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Grill’en and Chill’en

One of my best friends sent me a picture of a RibEye on the grill yesterday and of course, that inspired me to fire up my own grill today. So I did some scallops on the grill and they were very tasty. Good thing we went with grilling them out because BG&E was back at work in the neighborhood and another 2-hour outage which is really cramping my workday.

Love me some seafood.
Photo by Mike Hartley

What is strange about BG&E is not that there are outages. Not that we don’t expect things to take a while sometimes when there are multiple areas affected by storms. There is no surprise to see out of state power crews around like we had today replacing a transformer in our neighborhood. What is surprising is the lack of communication or details about the work going on.

For instance, they knew they were going to be taking our service down today. Did anyone get a heads up? NO. The guys in the trucks gave me time estimates but BG&E never did even though I asked for status updates. We have all this communication technology and its not being used or at least properly in my opinion. So unless you can find the power crew in your area doing the work on your outage you aren’t going to get much.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Avoided becoming road pizza today as a huge truck ran a red light and I just caught him in the corner of my eye coming through. He didn’t even slow down. Kind of puts a new perspective on the day. And its good to still have cat-like reaction times in my 60’s.
  • Being healthy each day is the foundation for everything else you want to do. Those who aren’t healthy and still do, overcome and excel are to be admired.
  • I’m a believer that being mentally healthy is very important for long life. And even if I’m wrong it makes a short journey better.
  • If you live each day correctly you have met your deadlines.
  • I can’t wait to get my camera back in hands tomorrow and the rest of the week.


Stuff that makes you go WHAT?

There is a new neighborhood being constructed right across the street from ours on Woodstock Road. It’s in the heart of Woodstock. So what do they name this? The Preserve at Marriotts Ridge.

Well Marriotsville road and the center of Marriottsville is 4.1 miles away. Marriotts Ridge High School is 3.8 miles away. This Preserve at Marriots Ridge is right between the WOODSTOCK Snowball Stand and the WOODSTOCK Inn. It is serviced by the WOODSTOCK Post Office.

It’s Friggin WOODSTOCK, you morons.

Sunny and smiling in Woodstock MD today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Next on the hit list.

I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. I’m saddened by it. I’m disturbed by it. I was reminded of it in a news clip I saw of a concert. It’s where everyone has their cell phone raised above their heads to record the concert. Something they will probably never watch but just to post online.

This is so foreign to me. To see a concert is to watch and experience it LIVE. I don’t care, nobody is going to be able to experience it as you will LIVE. And if you not watching but trying to get the picture right you’re missing the point of LIVE and experiencing life and something special to you. A lyric, a tone or beat, a rhythm, an emotion or pose. Many things that if you’re not watching, you will miss making it less special.

Oh, and there is no way to convey online the experience of walking out of a Led Zepplin concert with your friends and yell to them a foot away, “That’s the loudest F’ing concert I’ve ever been to” and have them reply WHAT, because they can’t hear either. But everyone has a huge smile on their face and has experienced something special. Each person remembers something decades later that still makes their neck hair stand up and tickle you.

I was going to go off on the greedy Opioid pharmaceutical operations but lost power to the house today so that is cutting into production time. So I’ll go off on BG&E instead. My better half is not happy which means I’m not happy.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • People have disappointed me greatly today.
  • Remembering to focus on things that are important to me helps balance out everyone else’s priorities.
  • I’ve got to get out of this funk I’m in this evening. Sleep would do the trick if I could sleep at nights. Guess I’ll have to wait to the morning.
  • If you can, work for someone you trust and respect. If you can’t, cover your ass and find something else.

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Celebrate the heat

I’m in my element in this weather. Well for the most part. The extreme heat will get to me but not as much as most people. Today is one of those days where you had better be close to water or in it if you’re going to be outside for long.

You want to talk HOT.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Boy, these workweeks roll around fast and go by even faster. Seems like I’m walking out of that building and on the way back in the next minute. So many personal goals this weekend unaccomplished. So many minutes of rest missed. But there was much to be proud of. I’ve recharged again by seeing my children and family. Not just a little bit but spending some quality time together.

I’m so proud of my family. They are each so special. They have filled and continue to fill their father with special memories and times. I hope they know how I cherish these.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think the saying goes, “It’s not what you say but what you do.” But I think there might be a few exceptions to that rule.
  • I think being in love most of my life has helped and will help me live longer.
  • If you have to think about cooling off go grab the snow shovel out of the shed.
  • I find it very troubling that others will describe and try to define how patriotic I am or aren’t without knowing a thing about me.

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Sweating Saturday

I love it, the heat that is. Well, I do have to admit it is a bit warmer than what I call comfortable. My better half is not happy. This is not her season. It’s the opposite of her favorite time of year. So I’ll listen to her complain about the heat because she listens to me cursing the cold of winter each year.

Captain Skully
Photo by Mike Hartley

I still got out and did a number of things today which felt good. I tried to fix my father-in-law’s car door latch. Hope that is holding. Did some trimming out in the yard. We did some birthday shopping for my Son and I went to my favorite store – Clarks/Ace Hardware.

I have to give Clark’s Hardware some respect here. I’ve been patronizing them for decades. They are the most friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people around. I highly recommend this business here in sunny Howard County.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to my sister inlaw. Those visits pass so fast. Life passes so quickly. That makes it easier to look forward to each new day. Each new adventure or task.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You ever get a phone call from a large organization and they say they made a mistake in your favor?
  • Don’t forget Sunday is National Ice Cream Day. Yeah, like I needed an excuse to eat more ice cream.
  • This is what you call a HOT summer night.

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I love to laugh

I woke this day and listened to some comedy. That is a fine thing to have on when just working along at the computer or tinkering in the basement. But it’s not something I do often even though laughing through this day has me thinking I need to make this more a part of every day like I do with music. Actually, I laugh a lot even without comedy on YouTube or clubs. My friends and I are a fairly comical group. So an email or text or phone call might have me smiling all day. And then there are our weekly vigils where laughter is unavoidable.

Helping people laugh and looking for people to be close to that are funny can make life a real joy. I’ve never been shy interjecting humor as I can.

I got to spend some family time for a few hours before heading outside to do war with Mother Nature. She was a formidable opponent today. And the next two days might be warmer. I’m finally using my brain and not pushing it in very hot weather.

Hazy Hot and Humid.
Photo by Mike Hartley

This has been a great start to the weekend. For some reason, I feel very blessed and at peace. I think that the reason is everyone is healthy and pretty happy in my family and close circle of friends. That is nothing to be sneezed at. I’m also enjoying a fairly nice run the last few weeks and that is a welcomed stretch that I’d like to keep going.

I’m inspired to work into the night on some creative pursuits. Let’s see what I can dream up this evening.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life, do it LIVE. Planning is cool. Reflection is great. LIVING is the S**T
  • I look around my office and the word that leaps to mind is “Purge.”
  • Going to print tonight till the unit runs out of ink.
  • Just being thankful for lots of things at the moment.

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The beginning

I like thinking of every day as a beginning. I don’t know what that beginning is someday’s, but its always a beginning. Today happens to be the beginning of my weekend. And you know I love me some weekends. I almost feel like a different person at times.

It used to be a lot more seamless. I had a lot of friends on and off the job. I still have a lot off the job but way less and shorter-term ones than most of my history professionally on the job.

Park your car, put your feet up or climb in a hammock.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve had a lot of new beginnings this year. Even though the retirement is years off the countdown has begun. It’s just something fun I do for myself. I’m beginning to learn about being a grandparent. It’s coming up on a year since I tried to start posting daily so the beginning foundation has been finally laid. The habit is in place. The enjoyment of trying to accomplish something. Maybe that is my beginning to my chosen career in retirement.

Recently I’m beginning to get the camera in my hands and learn that tool better. I’m going to begin a carving project this weekend. And now it’s late and I’m beginning to get tired. So I will have to finish up this thought tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was thinking, but then I got paranoid that someone might catch me and went back to playing dumb ass.
  • I get my exercise by charging my better half’s FitBit.
  • Nothing like a convertible on a hot summer evening.
  • I think I lost a few pounds working outside today. A fine balance of getting something done and avoiding heat stroke at the same time.

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I like saying hello, and good morning or evening. Sometimes even a how are you or have a great day.

At a minimum just looking friendly and smiling. I like holding the door for elderly people. Also women and children. Or even if it’s just the person behind me, even if it is a guy.

I don’t say or do these in passing. I believe I was taught these lessons at a young age and have just continued them. No, I’m not saying I’m the most considerate person around, but I do feel different than most people. It didn’t used to be uncommon to see lots of people doing this. Now its more the exception instead of the rule.

I like Pirate themes.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But I was encouraged by all the courtesy I did see at the beach on vacation this year. Maybe its when people relax and don’t have a million other things on their minds. Time is there to be friendly and courteous again.

I was worried about getting to the beach when I got older. That worry has been removed.Of course when the time comes mine will be the one with flames and larger rear tires.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I made my granddaughter laugh. My day is complete.
  • Soft Stuff ice cream doesn’t seem to be what it was when it was outside and people lined up on the ramp.
  • Actions or lack there of are what people really mean. So listen to less of what they say and more to what they do.
  • If you have outside work to do, get up early and finish up early because the outside is set to broil.
  • I’m going to focus on two things this weekend. Shooting more and getting some rest.

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More like free of work for the day. Yep, a random vacation day is upon me. The mind and body are already relaxed. A haircut and time with friends at the ballgame this evening. Orioles Park is a nice place for baseball. The Nationals whipped their behinds tonight.

It was the time together that was special. Laughs and stories, beers and bbq. Bobbleheads and bullpens, heat and home runs. A complete evening it was.

Friendships always are laying a new track.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever look forward to a good night’s sleep with anticipation?
  • It was Brooks Robinson BobbleHead night at the stadium and he was there. It brought back memories of the man doing amazing things at 3rd base.
  • So many great ideas, so little time.
  • I like going to bed with a smile on my face.

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Best of both worlds

I was listening to some Van Halen on the road and thought about the title of this song (Best of Both Worlds). Yeah, I would like that. I’d like to live long and be healthy. I’d like to get my paycheck but be retired. I’d like to have a thousand horsepower under my right foot and never get a ticket.

I’d like to be a better provider for my children and their children and share my wisdom but not overwhelm them. I’d like to travel with my better half but I can also be happy spending my days with her at home.

I’d love to drive till the tires fell off but without traffic. I’d love to see a world where we work on problems together. I’d like to have the thought that companies and their management had the best interest of both their customers and employees first in their hearts.

I’d like to see ideas and thoughtful plans instead of hype and rhetoric in our leaders. I’d like to see knowledge and empathy be more valuable than greed and apathy.

Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I felt the excitement of a young man when my new parts catalog came for my car.
  • Trust is becoming a lost art.
  • Are we witnessing the beginning of the breakdown of our society as it was?
  • Tuesday sounds like a good day for a haircut.
  • If you want to remember what is really important in life, spend some time with an infant. (Love, care, shelter, food). Oh yeah, making them laugh.

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Gas and Go

Locally gas stations have been rather high lately so I took a trip up to one that is always reasonable in Sykesville. Instead of hopping back on Route 32 I decided to cruise through town and grab a few frames. It was early and the Farmers Market folks were just setting up.

Its been a berry berry berry good Sunday.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It hadn’t gotten too hot yet. Well the sun hadn’t risen on some areas of town yet. I love that time of day in the summertime. I met a nice woman setting up her tables for her handmade jewelry and had a quick talk on politics and what was right and wrong with the world.

PC – Peaches and Cauliflower.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I continued to walk the town for a short bit but remembered we were going to visit my mother in-law who just made her return home. Was good to see her comfortable again.

Here a tomato, there a tomato.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I didn’t do as much shooting as I had hoped for this weekend so that is a good reason to pick up the cameras during the week also this week.

Don’t get benched, get to a farmer’s market.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll see what I can get started at tonight. I noticed they had just bailed the field of hay near my home and some of those looked nice scattered across the field this evening. I’ll go back for a few shots of those tomorrow.

Distileries are popping up like weeds on my lawn.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Overall it was a pretty good day. I’m kind of tired because I wasn’t able to get the sleep I needed but will try to do better tomorrow. I’m starting to worry about that affecting my overall health badly so its more of a priority for me than in the past.

I love the sign on the left next to the Maryland flag.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If your lucky to live a long life the biggest bet you will make is when to retire.
  • You know that NBA players can’t have a conversation with each other without putting their hand over their mouths. Do they all have bad breath? Could they be saying things they maybe shouldn’t be saying? Could it be a gag where they are pretending to talk and see how many cameras they can get to take a picture or tape of it? All I know is it looks bad.
  • Writing is easy. Coming up with something good to say isn’t so much.
  • I love short work weeks.

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Sun and sweat

I love being outdoors even if it is in the yard doing maintenance. I remember so vividly looking out the window after surgery and thinking how good it would be again to be cutting the lawn or trimming the trees. And I’m there and have been doing it and you won’t hear me complain at all.