THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Free me

Music tends to free my spirit. It encourages my body to move. It evokes many different emotions. It inspires and relaxes. It amazes and transfixes one. It causes reflection and memories that make the hair on your neck stand up.

It’s what I turned on this morning when my better half left for breakfast with friends. It’s what I drove to this afternoon on the roads. It’s what will take me into the evening tonight.

In Frederick Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley
Softening a sidewalk. Photo by Mike Hartley

Got the best little device for my new phone. A wireless remote phone grip that has a handle like my camera grip from Kiwifotos. So I can hold that with one hand and it has a shutter on it so no going for buttons on the phone. Oh yeah, one of the most important features. A wrist strap also. I have a usable camera now.

The new grip.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I didn’t realize the significance at the time when I was growing up, but I lived next door to the Mulligans. I should have seen if they liked to golf.
  • I swear someone has control over the fast-forward button when it comes to weekends and they keep pressing it.
  • This is going to be a very busy week.
  • Grandchildren make you realize how fast time goes by. They grow so quickly in such short periods.

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Why yes it is

What a great day it was. And the next two are going to be wonderful also. Don’t know that for a fact but figured I’d try to keep the streak going.

Just a few images from Chesapeake City from a while back. I think I’ll pay the town another visit this summer and try to get some more shots this summer.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Going UP. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes family visits are rushed. It’s rare to have a full day of time with your grandchildren and visits and meals with both of your own children. One of those very special days just filled with love and laughter and toys and water spraying and many more games.

A day where I’m not sure who is more worn out, the grandparents or the grandchildren. I’m imagining the bedtimes won’t be that far apart. I guess we are at that perfect age for grandparents, still strong enough to care for children all-day, mentally sharp, and helping them learn, play, and love. It’s a wonderful time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Back to reality tomorrow and a long list of chores.
  • There is a method to this madness. I just have to remember where I wrote it down.
  • It’s like the invasion of the ants this year so far. I’m keeping them at bay but the numbers this year seem to exceed anything I’ve seen before.
  • Hugs from children can change a difficult week into a good one.

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Just some random thoughts and photos.

Yes, that is a lone tree below in a field that will yield corn this summer.

Can you see the forest for the trees? Along Rt 99. Photo by Mike Hartley

Can you see the hidden entrance below on this freshly cut field of hay?

I knew this wouldn’t stand out in the shot. Photo by Mike Hartley
A cross on a frame overlooking the field. Photo by Mike Hartley

I found a gift card for Ledo Pizza. I think I know where we are going this weekend sometime. For those of you not from the great state of Maryland Ledo makes square pizzas. As they say, they never cut corners.

Pineapple and Onion above. I’m more of a pre-cooked bacon or sausage toppings. Photo by Mike Hartley

Beware of low-flying drives at Nicks.

I can’t wait to play mini-golf with my grandchildren. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I could eat a snowball every day during the warm months.
  • Every once in a while I forget what pain feels like. But it’s never very long till it reminds me.
  • Not everyone is a morning person. Not everyones morning comes at the same time.
  • It really doesn’t matter what the weather is this weekend, does it? I do have to set up the big umbrella over the grilling area though on Sunday.

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Get your groove on

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to dress. Casual would be a better term one that is basic colors. Gym shorts, (blue, black, grey) but recently I’m stretching out. I got a pair of power blue, a pair of gold, and a pair of coral to add to the collection. Now I know I have a long way to go to match the likes of the gentleman below but I’ll get my groove on from now on.

Now that is a nice set. Shot in OC MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m expanding my footwear also. I recently discovered that tennis shoes come in colors other than white. So I got a pair of black with a little red accent. Now don’t get excited, I’m not going to start eating salads and tofu (not that there is anything wrong with that if it suits you). It kind of started when my better half (always trying to improve me) started getting me some nice colorful summer shirts for nice dinners at the beach. And now she has unleashed my color palette. Thanks, honey, I guess after all these decades I can change.

My summer groove is starting to come alive again. Watch out world. The time of year to let my hair down. The time of year my spirits are highest and I build a reserve of memories to get me through the cold months.

Flip and Flop on the morning sands in OC. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stepping outside and listening and watching nature. Taking some time away from the job and getting a balance in life. Rediscovering the important aspects of life. Watching my grandchildren play in the water. Putting my feet in the sand. Many things like that.

I am getting ready for a series of day trips in the next month. Can’t wait to feel that excitement. And with the weight I’ve dropped the likelihood of people trying to roll me back into the water while I’m trying to catch some rays is unlikely.

I missed a shot that I had taken and I think I like it better than the one I used yesterday. I didn’t crop either of them, One I just got closer and zoomed in with the conventional camera while this one I shot on the phone. Sorry, for the semi-repeat. That happens when I don’t take my time editing.

Old Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve watched and read enough recently to convince me post-processing of images is a very important part of the quality. Step one, I guess I’ll start with some basic tools like Lightroom because I can use that for the phone images also easily. I knew I would probably get into it when I retired because of the time involved but why not start now?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find myself drawing inspiration from more and more things lately.
  • I got a power washer. If it doesn’t move it gets cleaned.
  • I’m discovering the earlier I mix music into my week the better it goes.
  • Work is so intense sometimes that I forget to do a lot of things that could balance it out.
  • The Strong may not always survive, but they stand a better-than-average chance of it.


Good Day

I’m always less than enthused when the sun isn’t going to be out. I love natural light. And that was the case this morning, So I went to see what I could capture with the iPhone camera. And yes I took a conventional camera with me also.

Shot with iPhone 13 along Trolly Line #9 Trail. Photo by Mike Hartley

I just read a stat the other day that showed how late to the game I am. The statistic said that over 90% of all photos taken are done with smartphones. To this day 99.9 % of the pictures I’ve taken are with conventional cameras. Well better late than never. I’ll see if I can get used to it. This really isn’t a fair comparison with the old Kodak and the relatively new iPhone. But this has shown me that shooting with the phone will be just fine in a lot of cases.

Shot with Kodak z812 along Trolly line #9 Trail. Yes, that old thing is still in use. Photo by Mike Hartley

One thing is for certain. That 6 oz iPhone 13 is easier to carry than that 3.3 pound Nikon body and lens. I was looking at a couple of grips for the phone so I can hold this right. That is one reason I never took pictures with it before, holding onto the edges of a phone was never comfortable for me. I need a grip, a safety cord, something that can mount to a tripod and has a shutter.

No, I’m not giving up on conventional photography tools. I’m just expanding my options and maybe lightening my load from time to time. Plus it’s another tool I can put to use and it’s a lot less auspicious than that big camera.

And what do you know, it cleared a little this afternoon with some sun. Had to take advantage of it and wash the car. But with that humidity, I can’t see it not raining tonight.

It won’t be long till the sand and surf start calling me. I haven’t stayed in the downtown area of Ocean City in a good while. Not that it hasn’t calmed down since my youthful years, it has but it’s still too congested for me. It is nice to visit though with the boardwalk entertainment and shops and food. If you like people-watching this is the place.

Soon there will be far more than 1 individual on the beach as there is in this shot. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love shooting in the town of Ocean City. Bethany Beach Deleware is a very close second. And as MacArthur said, “I will return.”

When man makes structures like this, Mother Nature just licks her chops. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t remember what age it was when we started to say to each other how good the other looked. But it seems to be part of a standard greeting now that we’re all over 60.
  • It’s always a good morning after the Celtics lose.
  • The day is young, I’m not.
  • The mind says it’s a great day for a workout. The body is saying Whoa Nellie, I can bring some pain to that gain.

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Sun, breeze, kite

Just a few more shots from our short visit to OC a few weeks ago. I wish my attitude was as sunny as the skies but work infringed on my sleep so it hasn’t been the best start to the week.

Outside the Kite Loft in OC. Photos by Mike Hartley

That morning interruption of a few hours cost me time today and I didn’t finish the mowing so I’m behind as the week gets rolling. It’s okay though, many days to regain form and I’m taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I should have a new phone by Thursday.

Boundaries are important. I’ve failed to set some needed ones during phases of my life. But with age comes wisdom.


Had a great meal at Cafe EZ in Ellicott City Sunday afternoon. I hesitate to sing this place’s praises because it’s already getting popular enough. The service and food are great each time we have been there. It’s only open 8-3 each day but it’s great for breakfast or lunch or a mid-day dessert if you feel so inclined.

I also had one of my favorite pizzas this past weekend from Ledo in Normandy. The Hawian is becoming my every other pizza from there because I usually get the pre-cooked bacon on that which is great but I’m trying to live into my grandkid’s lives so I’m making that more of a treat.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Be happy with yourself. That way if nobody else is, that no longer matters.
  • I’m going to have to start using some sunscreen if I’m going to be outside this much.
  • Interesting what you can do when you set your mind to it. A new low on the scale today.
  • The barking dogs late into the night next door isn’t going to last much longer.

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Good Waves

I’m feeling positive about this coming week. Well, at least that is the mindset I hope to go through it with. A plan to eat better again and continue some exercise. Eating better before now was just eating more. Exercise while a staple of my first 40 years of life became few and far between the last few decades.

So it’s been a change of mind for the most part. And some simple things like dropping my soda and snack intakes. Nice steps but I need to do more to get to a weight and more healthy eating style. So the treadmill and I are becoming a daily companions.

Mother Nature likes to stir things up. Photo by Mike Hartley

No time to waste though and finishing up this week strong is a priority. Only a few hours till a full night of work slaps me in the face but no problem. Production will continue. I believe I’ll work on my photo site this evening and upload some more images to it and do some sorting and labeling.

I wonder at what point mass shootings become as commonplace a news item as the weather.

I wonder if I’ll have a few minutes this week to get my camera to the repair shop.

I wonder if I can do something amazing this week.

I wonder if I’m making the right decisions about working.

I wonder how good that Reuben is going to taste tomorrow.


I had 3 things at the beach OCMD, Fenwick Island, and Bethany Beach that I have to rave about. The Crab Imperial at Harpoon Hanna’s was great. The breakfast western crepe at Sunshine Crepe in Bethany Beach was great. The Dumsers Cherry Ice Cream Soda at 123th Street in OC was great again.

It’s a good thing these aren’t local. Photo by my better half.

Sorry, I gobbled up the Crab Imperial before I could take a picture. Even though I’m eating better I’ll continue to sample some tasty and maybe fattening dishes but I’ll just balance it out. Portions here are so large that I’ve been stretching out meals into 2-3 a lot of times in recent years.

I think it’s time for some local food reviews also. So that means I’ll be taking my better half out for a bite this week, between the packed schedule.

But also think of your fellow man who might be hungry. I support the Maryland Food Bank and sometimes World Central Kitchen.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hard work isn’t a bad thing at all. Some of us make a career out of it.
  • There is a little-known trick for success. It comes in little bits and pieces so slowly that sometimes you might not recognize it.
  • I think Monday is a day for a snowball. Cherry, I believe.
  • I really need to step up my game here.
  • I hope to get a new phone this week.

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The sound

The sound of waves hitting the shore. Purely intoxicating to me.

The sound of children laughing and digging in the sand. Purely intoxicating to me.

The volleyball game behind us with sounds of loud cheers for the spikes. Purely intoxicating to me.

The sound of a whistle from the lifeguard at the teens throwing the football or just being wild. Purely intoxicating to me.

The occasional sound of open headers or a pack of Harleys rolling down Coastal Highway. Purely intoxicating to me.

The bite of Old Bay on the crabs and the sweetness of that Cherry Ice Cream soda from Dumsers. Purely intoxicating to me.

Those moments when the family comes in from the beach, grandchildren on our laps or tucked in beside us with eyes closing quickly and our children trying to catch their breath, while my better half and I wink at each other. Heaven.

Illustration by Mike Hartley

A new frontier is about to be crossed. I’m going to update my phone after 9 years on an iPhone 6. And the new frontier is that I’m going to try to use whatever new model, as a camera in addition to my personal communication device. I’m going to have to turn that company phone over some time and I’d like to start separating my life from their phone. Plus I hear the cameras in these devices are good. We will see.

I think I’ll start to signify what images are taken with what device. Then again, who cares. Well, I kind of do because of some changes in society. Let me explain. Just this weekend I was using my Nikon 7100 with the 18-300 lens. So it’s an imposing brick to carry around and put up in front of my face. It’s obvious your taking pictures. I love animals and I like taking unique pictures of them. So I saw this dog leaning out of the driver’s side car window as they were exiting the inlet lot.

The first shot I liked best because it looks like the dog could be driving but in the shadow of the driver’s face is a look that wants to kill. So I took another shot as they passed because it was a beautiful dog. If I had shot that with a cell phone, the guy would have probably never noticed. Then again I’m really going to have to learn how to operate that phone as quickly as I do a camera. But anyway I think cell phones might be a good way to avoid confrontation and issues if I’m doing things with people.

It’s not like I’m trying to catch people in bad situations. The opposite as a matter of fact. But we all know how touchy people have become.

Look Mom, no hands. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it right to have a ton of random thoughts when the day is only minutes old?
  • So I waited till later in the day to have some random thoughts but they all left me.
  • I wonder if doing a few posts a day is too much.

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When at the beach, surf

I saw a few more of these one-wheel devices at the shore this past weekend. I got kind of interested and went to look them up and wow do they come at a price! Yes I know, what doesn’t nowadays besides my free rambling on. To each their own on choosing your transportation method. I’m too old to be falling off one of those so you won’t see me on one.

What I want to know is “Who-ya gonna you call” when you get a flat? Maybe we can mount a spare on the helmet?

Ride On, but be careful on that sandy concrete. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was reminded this morning it was the season for the lawn service crews to descend upon our neighborhood. And boy do they like to start early. Trouble is that is when I’m trying to sleep so we again begin the battle. Even with the house closed up completely the big multiple mowers, string trimmers, and gas-powered blowers always is more than enough to wake me and keep me up for as long as they are working hard. Just another penalty for working a night shift.

A little rain brings everything to life. Photo by Mike Hartley

So far the workweek hasn’t ruined my extended weekend bliss. Only one more night to go so I’m trying to keep it together and coast into a nice but busy weekend. My better half has done her part and the gardens are looking good but now I must part. Arborists are coming Thursday to take 2 trees down and cut up one that fell a few months back. I’ve got a ton of work on the yard to do so it’s going to be a physical weekend. I’m looking forward to the battle.

Ah, the sunset on another day. Be well and safe.

Till tomorrow sunshine. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day (second helping)

  • My Nikon needs to go to the shop. Let’s see what kind of work I can do with that 15-year-old digital. I hope it’s no more than a week or two but who knows? I never had a high-end camera before.
  • I can still be the horseee in my mid-60s. I don’t ask my granddaughter if she wants to play that but somehow she always remembers and asks to ride. I’m not sure which hurts more, the hardwood floors on my knees or my spine later that day. But you won’t ever catch me saying no.
  • Feeling fitter each day. I’m hoping that eventually, that turns into feeling less pain.
  • If you want to give a child something to remember put a mark on the doorframe measuring their growth over time. They will look at that and smile and ask every time they get measured if they have grown. Sometimes you just catch them stopped and staring at it.

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I believe a gentleman named Randy Hofman does biblical sand sculptures at Ocean City. There was a pretty strong storm on the beach last Friday and about the only thing that lasted was this part of the sculpture which I shot Saturday afternoon when the sun was trying to return.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m ready to return to the beach and I’ve only been home 2 days. The draw of Ocean City, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick all call me daily. I love the warmth of summer but the offseason months of April and May along with September and October and becoming more special and a lot of fun. The huge crowds aren’t there to compete with. It’s more affordable and you can get places faster in your car than on foot which is the opposite in the summer.

Unless they get some beach replenishment going tents like this might not be welcome. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m hoping for a record number of days at the beach this year. No, I don’t have a place there so most will be back and forth day trips. No problem driving distances for me. 6 hours in the bucket seat of the Miata is no problem. Here’s to good health and sunny skies for the coming months.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Another project started. Isn’t it great?
  • I love it when my grandchildren visit. It’s a day I don’t get condemned for acting like a child.
  • Indifference is not a way to live. It’s good to move on.
  • Picture this. Wait till the 80s hair band generation reaches their destinations at the old age facilities. I can see the Congo line of them dancing down the hall with their walkers singing – Pour some Sugar On Me, Oh In the Name of Love, Pour some Sugar on Me, Come on fire me UP.

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Back home

It always feels good to be back home after a few days away. Then again it feels good to be away. Especially when it’s at the beach and you’re having a great time and some much-needed rest. Some stormy weather in Ocean City MD this weekend with really high winds, rain, and minor flooding. Oh, and the beach got blown on the boardwalk.

Where there is sand there are children. Photo by Mike Hartley

And each year when I think I’ve seen everything on the boardwalk, low and behold there is another surprise. And the sign on the back of his cart says “Believe” so I guess I will.

Either very early or very late. Photo by Mike Hartley

What it really made me think of when I got home though is how sweet it will be when I return from the beach in the future and I won’t immediately have to go back to work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Something you can have often is no longer a treat.
  • I see Aerosmith is doing a farewell tour. I’m like them and their 1987 album called Permanent Vacation. We both are about to take one.
  • The Bay Bridge is not a place to be in foul weather.
  • There is an answer, it just illudes me.

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Rain Rain go away

Boy, we had a nice stretch of weather. But that thunder last night while struggling to sleep was an indication it was changing today and boy did it. A nice soaking rain early and another round this afternoon I believe. That is ok, I needed some time to assemble my new power washer and do a few indoor things. And here is that opportunity.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about using the above rain photo again. I do like it because I can still remember that day. I was looking out the front door about to leave and this downpour started. But the sun was out and I glanced over at my neighbor’s garden out front from my porch and saw this so I grabbed the camera just a second or two before the clouds covered the sun. Timing can be everything.

Time to Change

As they say, the only constant in life is change. So why fight it, I think I’ll get on board and make some changes myself. Who knows, maybe I’m behind the times and haven’t kept up with change.

A week or two ago I mentioned a change in trying to reduce my soda intake. I also started watching meals and how much I was snacking. I got on a scale this morning and low and behold it has numbers under 200 on it. Checked in at 198 lbs and was SHOCKED. That was about 12 lbs in 2 weeks. As Robin once said to Batman “Holy guacamole”

I’m sure that pace will slow because my optimal weight I believe is around 185-190 lbs. And they say those last few are the hardest but only time will tell. I’m looking forward to getting into some nice shorts I had that weren’t fitting the last few years. So there is another plus side. I expanded my wardrobe without going shopping. Hell yeah. And my better half thought I should get rid of them.

Blowing the DUST OFF

I’m sure my neighbors might not be happy but my better half and her sister left this morning for a day trip and I’m blowing the dust off the speakers this morning. The house is closed up so I’m sure it’s not too loud but I will take a step outside to make sure in a minute or two. Not like I’m doing this often at all and I put up with far more than I dish out.

NFL Draft coming end of the month. Hey, what’s that Lacrosse goal doing on the football field? Oh, you forgot you were in the GREAT STATE of Maryland, did you? Well here is your daily reminder.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Well surprise surprise, I assembled the new power washer purchased from Home Depot. Well as much as I could because we have parts missing which is the first thing I thought of when I saw the tape job on the bottom looked a little unusual as I was going through all the cardboard packing. Like it had been opened already. Lo and behold all the nozzles are missing.

I was pretty good about not going there because I’ve had problems with ordering things online for delivery here before. And that hassle that put me through was painful. Now this bull. So another trip back with the receipts and dealing with this problem will hopefully teach me a lesson NEVER TO WALK IN HOME DEPOT AGAIN. If I have to I’ll wait to have it ordered from Clarks Ace Hardware instead of going someplace else in the future. Lesson learnt as they would say down south.

Here I was in a good mood this morning and they had to go and F it up. Now I got to turn that around again. Don’t worry I bounce back quicker than I used to. When you have to recover from adversity from many experiences over and over you get good at either turning it around or just becoming a very unhappy person. I choose the former.

As the Foo Fighters say

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Had a nice family day yesterday. Got some exercise and had a wonderful dinner together. My grandson has an obsession with my glasses.
  • Not everyone who goes into the Big Belly Deli in Sykesville has a big belly. But the establishment is working on it.
  • The local gas station in Waverly Woods has stopped raping people on gas prices. Yeah, they are 5-10 cents higher still than everyone else but that 25-30 cent a gallon difference has gone. I still won’t go there except to fill up the mower gas cans.
  • I was glad to see that mother of the 6-year-old who shot their teacher was charged. Don’t understand why the father wasn’t unless there isn’t one there.

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The early bird gets the worm and then fishes with it.

Fishing the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

The sun it out, temps are nice and shorts are the order of the day for clothing. Feels good to get outside and get some chores done. Feels good to be healthy enough to be out. I think that is what I hated most after surgeries, being inside on nice days. Drove me nuts thinking back.

It still sticks with me today not to take simple things like being up and around for granted. I get joy from walking to the mailbox and back. I look at the shade of blue sky, I smell the air and feel the warmth or chill of the temps. I hear a neighbor yell hello and return a friendly greeting. Usually I don’t even look at what we got till I get back inside because I don’t want to miss something. Like the local Hawk flying by to its favorite tree in my back yard. Or the box turtle slowly crawling under my shed or my neighbors garden.

So I have a smile on my face also knowing half the workweek is behind me and lots of family time on the horizon.

I’m missing my sons dog. We have been watching her the last few days and she is a loving one and so easy to have. We had pets all our lives with the exception of the last several years. The loss and hurt when they pass has been too much for my better half. I’ve thought about doing some volunteer work at the local adoption place near my home when I retire just for the contact with animals. The love they share makes me feel good and I’d like that feeling more often.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Farside cartoons first make you think and then laugh.
  • Step away from electronic devices and get a balance in your life.
  • There is a fine line between you and the fish on the other end.
  • The better I get at scheduling the more I’m getting done. I’m just limited on the resources. I booked me, myself, and I each an 8-hour shift. Apparently, someone is slacking off.

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My time

The workweek is about to be wrapped up. The race has been run. The garage is gathering tools for the next town. The crowds are dispersing. The barriers coming down. The only thing left is the tracks from the tires on the street.

Just pass GO. Photo by Mike Hartley

The trick is to have run the race and stayed out of the wall and infield. This is a good season to slow down a bit and enjoy the beauty that seems to be all around us here in the state that was the birthplace of the National Anthem. Looking forward to taking the foot off the accelerator.

As the godfather would say “Look how they massacred my boy.” Photo by Mike Hartley

At the same time, I feel like finishing up a few projects I’ve started recently. Oh yeah, it’s the final 4 weekend. Well, that takes some of my Saturday out. As they say, make the best out of things with the time you have.

Do you know what I could go for tomorrow?

LeeLynn’s crabcake sandwich. I’m the one who added the bacon. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Supported Jersey Mike’s day of giving today.
  • I love learning by doing. The trick is not to get discouraged till you mastered it.
  • There is a special feeling when you give something you made to some you love.
  • I feel the need, the need for sleep.

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Where to go

Life is full of options. Where to live, where to visit, where to vacation. I have a friend who just wrote me while visiting France. I have a relative coming cross country (U.S.) to visit and stay soon. Everyone is going and coming.

I guess I should get busy. I’ve made a few limited travel plans this year utilizing 4 days of vacation time but lots more time off to plan for. And while discretionary funds are limited we are going to see a lot of things we haven’t before that are still within a day’s drive.

On the must-list, this summer is the Air and Space Museum in Chantilly Va. Also on the list is the American Indian Museum in D.C. Two small towns I’d like to visit are Chesapeake City and Chestertown Maryland. We also haven’t been to Rocky Gap or St Michaels in a while so might as well add them to the list. Oh, in Antietam Maryland I’d like to visit that National Park Service Battlefield. And you know I’m going to spend some time with my feet in the sand with the Atlantic Ocean lapping at my feet in a beach chair.

I go to a number of places in my own mind without leaving the house, which is good for a day like today where it’s wet and damp out and I don’t feel exactly right so I’m staying inside watching hoops and pretending I’m an artist.

I personally like where this sign is located in Bethany Beach Deleware. Photo by Mike Hartley

After a quick burst of energy this morning I’ve faded fast. I feel like I’m struggling to maintain a high pace of activity. Then again maybe that is my body and brain yelling BALANCE in the background as I try to forge ahead. I’ve gotten so tired I’ve lost focus. I’ve been migrating from one thing to another and that isn’t the most productive way but when I do get tired that does become the drop-back method of madness.

It certainly lead to a less than an accomplished day. But at the same time, lots of progress was made. And a lot of things are pointing at a productive Sunday.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Boy, is it good to see old friends! Even on Zoom
  • How Bout dem LADY TERPS!
  • As the truck pulled in with 20 bags of mulch I think I heard my back say “Whatch you talk’in about Willis”
  • I can’t wait to see the sunshine tomorrow.
  • Do you think we are witnessing the beginning of society breaking down completely?
  • This is the first year I can remember not having to shovel any snow. And I’m going to put the shovels back in the shed tomorrow.

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The Madness

I enjoy college basketball, my favorite sport, and my favorite team in all of sports. But March is what makes it unique along with a short season. Regular season games have more importance along the way. The tournament is a win-a-game and advance, or go home, so there is a much more heightened drama and importance of each contest.

It’s played by young people roughly the same age and experience levels. Fans are more into it than pro sports. There is more parity in these contests than in pro sports. The coverage of the month of March is incredible and catches the pure emotion of the players, coaches, and fans.

One of the highlights of attending the U of MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s also a time of year my best friends gather and we put on some grand spreads together with day/night long parties. So to all those watching all the Conference Tournaments this week and getting ready for the Big Dance, it’s time to turn it up.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The good thing about grandchildren is you remember the fun you had with old toys when playing with them.
  • Everything is good with my headphones on and my favorite tunes rocking me out. It makes it easier to forget the unpleasant crap.
  • I should have taken up drums.
  • I pleased one person today and that was my granddaughter so that is all that matters.
  • I’m a big fan of what the Baltimore Banner is doing so far. Might give them a hand when I retire.
  • Things don’t always work out for the best and that is just life.

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Do you ever feel lacking the proper motivation? I certainly experience that some days. And by motivated, I mean that excited feeling about life. The anticipation of some fun things to experience or accomplish. The joy of spending time with loved ones. The challenges conquered at the job.

Sometimes even with those positive things I feel like I’m lacking the real energy I have on other days that make them so special. I guess that is part of the natural balance. You can’t be on top of the world every day of the year.

A little cold a grey yesterday. Photo by Mike Hartley

I no longer want to be lacking effort though. I made up my mind when I’ve been ill a few times to not let anything stop me. And yes as time passed I got lazy and slipped back into some unproductive ways. But when you get up each day and think if this were your last day what would you like to accomplish? That is a nice motivator and helps you set priorities right. That is why I tell people close to me that I love them each day.

It’s the reason I’m trying to spend as much time as reasonable on my hobbies. I got this real itch to do all the things I had in mind in my teens and 20s.

No wonder why parking is so tight in Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

To spend my time creating each day what strikes me, what gives me joy, and that sense of accomplishment. Especially when the creation is for someone special.

Any town with Submarine parking is good with me. Photo by Mike Hartley

But there are still those days you don’t feel close to 100% physically, like today and while it’s still fun to do this post and I’ll probably still work tonight and accomplish a lot there, it will be a struggle. I think burning that candle at both ends recently is taking a toll.

Reflecting. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I was editing some shots of Baltimore Maryland that I hadn’t used here and got thinking about that town. I really like Baltimore, always have but it’s a place I’m almost scared to go to much anymore. Maybe a ballgame at Candem Yards but that is about it. And I feel that is wrong without trying to do something about it. More thoughts on that later.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love to look at the menu’s before I go to a restaurant so I can narrow the list down. When I see too many things I like my mind goes to mush.
  • I hope to become one of these late-in-life avid readers.
  • One normal night’s rest does not fix tiredness.
  • Won’t be stepping outside tonight. Those rains sound pretty steady.

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Stretching out

Mornings are always good for stretching out. And that is what I’m doing in many ways. I’m finding great joy in working on my hobbies and stretching my creative wings. For this morning I was trying to fill some holes in my portfolio and ran across a few images of the National Harbor on a morning we were there in late fall celebrating an anniversary several years ago.

I ran by them in the first edit I did and upon reflection, they aren’t perfect but I felt like doing a morning post and hadn’t shot anything yet today so I thought I’d share them and throw in some words. Then again, maybe they should be on the cutting room floor.

Sunrises can warm even the coldest mornings. Photo by Mike Hartley

I figured the first shot was appropriate for this morning. I’m hoping for a nice sunrise before it clouds up completely today. I love getting up early when I’m not working for the job that pays the bills. I can see that I won’t be sleeping in when retirement rolls around.

Ah, the golden hours. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stretching out physically is very important. One of my best friends has emphasized the benefits of this and we suffer from some of the same back issues. And when I’m finished with this I’m going to follow his advice and spend some time stretching.

Life is a Capital wheel of emotions. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stretching is also important in relationships. We change over time and it’s important to adapt and move forward. We are moving forward in many ways. Sometimes families fracture along the way in life. It’s nice to see parts left still value each other and make an effort to gather regularly and enjoy each other’s company and our shared history. And this is part of our weekend.

And while you’re at it why not do a little mental stretching? I’m going to do a little reading and research. I’ve got a few tutorials on photography and woodworking I’m sure would help me.

Kick back. Photo by Mike Hartley

But after you have a full day of being stretched in many directions, don’t feel bad about getting in your favorite chair and putting your feet in the sand.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How early is early?
  • I wonder if I can find the time to post twice a day.
  • Oh crap, I better get a coat on and put the cover on the car before it snows.
  • The thought of taking a long nap this afternoon sounds inviting but I’d kick myself if I wasted some creative time.
  • Cutting back on TV viewing time is leading to happier days.
  • Why does my neck sound like a truck going over a gravel road when I roll it around in the mornings?
  • Can you feel it? March Madness is almost upon us.

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Crank it up

It feels good to get productive again. Yesterday was a day of enjoyment and relaxation for the most part. Something that is needed after a tough work week. But accomplishing things feels better. And I was on a roll during the work week which isn’t always the case.

Mother Nature eats our shores and we keep rebuilding them. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve been on a tear uploading images to my photo site most of the week and now I hope to really get moving this weekend. Tomorrow a few hours in the morning will be spent carving some wood. There will be a few photo opportunities in the afternoon with some possible snow coming and then some writing in the evening.

I’m sorry, yesterday reminded me of the beach so I had to include a shot of our eastern shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

But tonight we have an open schedule after watching our granddaughter today. I drew a quick portrait of her today. I’m still proficient in crayons and markers. Always the observant one and completely honest my little bundle of joy said my office is a mess and I need to pick it up. Well, those sound like marching orders to me.

I’ve been wanting to experiment with some different portrait lighting so I hope to get to that this evening also. Then again I’d like to finish reading The Photographers Playbook this weekend. It’s good to have lots of goals and get to as many as possible. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired as hell.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thank goodness my desire for ice cream isn’t dampened by cold temperatures.
  • The innocence of children is so heartwarming.
  • I’m sorry but the nicest thing I can say about one of my neighbors is nothing.

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The sky, land, and sea have a lot in common. All can look wonderful and inviting. But all can turn on you in an instant and threaten our existence. I’m feeling as smooth as the sky below this morning. I also feel as cloudy as it is being I’ve been lacking sleep the last few mornings. Let’s hope tomorrow’s rest works out better.

The sky has a different story each day for us. Photo by Mike Hartley

I never posted the first image (above) here but it’s part of the same sky as the two below which I have used before. I really wanted to get out today and do some shooting but having trouble powering through. Feeling if I do I might make things worse. In your youth, it’s easy to ignore those signals. In your senior years, there is a price for not listening. So the stubborn slightly old guy is listening and staying in.

Love our Eastern Shore here in the great state of Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have a series of object shots to finish processing for an appraisal for someone. Then back to making some prints. And there is always some reading or studying for enlightenment. Both of which I hope to make a few minutes for.

One of nature’s many paintings. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh crap, I forgot it was Fat Tuesday. Here is a shot (below) I took last week. Looks like they are prepared for the event. I wonder if a crowd will be on that balcony.

Along Main Street in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m not into gusty winds.
  • I was going to do what the Doobie Brothers’ song I was listening to earlier suggested and go “Rocken Down the Highway”. So I ran to get into the shower only to come out to clouds and a downpour. Glad I didn’t take the cover off the car before the shower.
  • I wonder what Ron D would do if Mardi Gras were in the state of Florida? Ban it?
  • The fewer conversations I have with my body the happier we are.

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Never stop exploring

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Monday. I blink my eyes and a day is gone. But even though I accomplished little in the chore and creative endeavors I carved a place in my granddaughter’s heart by playing with her intently for hours today.

So back to the final (hopefully) series of images from Berlin Maryland.

Brick buildings line Main Street. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe this is what is meant by a slower pace of life. I can dig it. I’m into boards and bikes. Plus I like the flatness of the Eastern Shore.

Main Street transportation takes many shapes. Photo by Mike Hartley
Even the cars/suv’s come with bikes. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love outdoor dining. Well, most of the time. There certainly isn’t any shortage of it available in Berlin Maryland.

One of the great pleasures in life, eating well. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are so many unique stores to visit I can’t list or photograph them all but I did enjoy most of them.

Juice me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Not a town with your average storefront windows.

I wonder if there is a tortoise model? Photo by Mike Hartley
This is a town of Front Porches. Photo by Mike Hartley
A swinging and rocking place. Photo by Mike Hartley
You would think a Mermaid Museum would be on the water. Photo by Mike Hartley
A nice little bakery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s too late in my career for a new manager again. But here we go.
  • There are only so many chances to do it right. That is why I try to do it at least once a day.
  • Today was the definition of spotty showers.
  • Just squeaking in under the deadline again.


More Exploring

Back to some shots from Berlin Maryland. The two favorite spots in town for me besides the World of Toys store was the Beach Memories and Jeffrey Auxer Designs. The few shots I took don’t do their shops justice.

Inside Jeffrey Auxer Designs. Photo by Mike Hartley
More from Jeffrey Auxer. Photo by Mike Hartley
Artist working at Beach Memories. Photo by Mike Hartley

After a very good meal at the Hotel Atlantic on Wednesday evening, we had breakfast at the soda fountain across the street.

Good breakfast. Photo by Mike Hartley
They do pull off the old soda fountain feel. Photo by Mike Hartley.

There is something for everyone from formal to informal.

Open parlor at Hotel Atlantic. Photo by Mike Hartley

Brick, is the decor of the town.

It’s an easy walking town but I suggest bikes also because there are wonderful homes surrounding this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

The business was hot for this cold shop. Island Creamery

Homemade ice cream enjoyed. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I’ll finish editing another batch of the town of Berlin and then move on to photographing the next one.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’d like to feel better.
  • I’d like to do more work here and with my cameras.
  • I’d like to be on vacation again.
  • I’d like to be closer to retirement.
  • But as Bob Marley once said “don’t worry, be happy”

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A trip to the shore (Ocean City) and the little town of Berlin Maryland on Wednesday and Thursday with my better half. A few hours at the beach and a few at an old town made for a nice mix of good old Maryland experiences.

As the sign says “America’s Coolest Small Town.” Photo by Mike Hartley

Being my time at the beach this year has been limited, I used the day to soak it in. No photography at all there. The feeling of fingers and toes in the sand, the sound of crashing waves, the laughter of children, the warmth of the sun, and the coolness of the ocean breeze.

But that evening and the next morning I got to take a few as we wandered the town of Berlin.

The side of the Welcome Center. Photo by Mike Hartley

We had a nice stay at the historic Hotel Atlantic. Great staff and meal at the hotel on Wednesday night. The beds were a little soft for my liking though so I was up early to take a few shots before the courtyard filled.

Sunrise on Thursday. Photos by Mike Hartley
Hotel Atlantic at sunrise. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s late now and I’ve got a lot more editing to do so I’ll post some more images tomorrow and elaborate on what I liked about the town.

Have a good Sunday morning. I’m sure this and the many churches I saw in Berlin will be open. Photo by Mike Hartley

I promise a day of shooting at the beach in September.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t believe schools are starting already. Not that I go to school. We just help watch children so our daughters can teach school.
  • Having worked all my life I can see why a lot of workers are dissatisfied.
  • I don’t feel good, but I feel better. So I’ll take that and run with it.
  • My confidence in management and ownership in this country to wake up to the fact that a lot of workers are dissatisfied is slim to none.


Tuesday Times

What a wonderful day. Sunny and cool for August but very comfortable. Today was that wonderful ritual of cutting the estate. And I use the term “estate” in humor. I have a little over an acre of property. And yes that is a nice amount but it looks like a postage stamp when I compare it to some of the spreads I saw on the eastern shore this past weekend.

My friend says these ospreys will be leaving the nest in about a month to head to warmer climates. Photo by Mike Hartley

One of my best friends has a home on Kent Island and we decided to explore a bit. We took a spin Saturday morning and he throws me the keys to his Vette. We tooled around the communities and back roads on the island and surrounding small towns, with a stop at the Owl Bar to meet a friend, before heading back to his home.

Yesterday’s shot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was Saturday night. This was Sunday morning. It’s an impressive structure. That is a cruise ship that has passed under it and a freighter about to go under it. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I would look at these estates with wonder, I didn’t feel the need or wish for one. They were wonderful homes with great views and sometimes multiple structures on the property. But I would feel guilty not cutting that and contracting it out. So there it is. Rich people will never know the solitude of sitting on a mower for an hour or two being totally consumed by the roar of the motor and blades doing their work and just getting lost in thought.

And it’s GOOD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh, by the way, it’s a blast driving a car with a stick and with over 600 horsepower.

Stuck? Looks can be deceiving. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How can you not smile when you see a child?
  • A good evening for a ride with the top down.
  • Enjoy the next month or two, I have a feeling after that it’s going to get a little crazy for a while.
  • I guess I’m at that age where I actually have to start listening to my body.
  • I surprised my daughter with the color of gym shorts I purchased recently. I’m glad this old guy isn’t entirely predictable.

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2 and 4 wheels

I was reading a thread on the neighborhood site Nextdoor and the topic was bicyclists and cars sharing difficult roads in Howard County. And boy did it seem to start a firestorm. As you can suspect bad drivers were an issue but also bad cyclists also. There might be a few people in this county that have put more miles on a car and bike here but the number is small.

Share the road. Photo by Mike Hartley

As a youth, I put on many miles on the bicycle. We used to live on our bikes as youngsters. A large paper route for a few years as I grew, peddling to jobs anywhere from 5-6 miles from home before I got my license. And yes I’ve been clipped by a car on a bike. I’m so old we used to ride on Rt 29. I’ve ridden motorcycles for 3 decades in this county. I was driving years before I had my license so 50 years in a car now.

These are just my observations. Pretty much no matter where you lived in this county in the 60s you could ride a bike and there wasn’t an issue for motorists or cyclists. In the ’70s with the expansion of Columbia and Rt 29 and other roads became much more active, wider, and faster. This is the decade police stopped me for riding a bike on Rt 29 to my job at the Mall. But it was still pretty safe in a lot of the county.

In the last 4 decades, the volume of both types of traffic continued to increase at staggering rates. And here we are today with beautiful back roads and scenes choked with cars and bikes. On top of that our tolerance for each other went out the window a few years ago and now we have games of chicken repeated in front of us over and over.

Uncaring people trying to pass in blind spots for oncoming traffic instead of having a few seconds of patience to safely pass on a good vision spot. Then there are the ballsy ones that Mr. Karma is about to take issue with who regardless of what oncoming traffic will attempt to run head-on to you because they are going to pass that bicyclist no matter what.

I’ve noticed bad behavior on both sides but far less from cyclists than motorists. But riding a motorcycle is by far the most dangerous around here because you are out on the major roads and people don’t look to see you. I’d say this is the highest incidence per mile ridden of almost being killed and that is saying something because I’ve been hit badly in two car accidents, one where it took them forever to get me out of the car because it was mangled so badly where the roof had to be cut off because they couldn’t get any of the doors open. That is after they took the pickup truck off the front and top of the car. Strange things happen to a car when it’s hit at a standstill by someone doing 60mph from behind.

I found some stats for Howard County from 2016-2020 from the state in a PDF that is all numbers. Numbers of people injured and killed in many situations including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and vehicles. I hate numbers. Because when you are talking people, we are not numbers. I hate what I see us doing to each other on the roadways no matter what your mode of transportation is.

Selfishness is killing and injuring us needlessly. Some of these stats are not accidents.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got up too early.
  • I’m staying up too late.
  • Good thing I took a nap.

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Maryland Day

The promo before the basketball games at the University of Maryland does before each contest where past stars and coaches appear saying “I have Maryland Pride”, is fitting for today. I will also say I have Maryland Pride and I love this state and its beauty and most of its people.

From shore to mountains. The colors fly. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have lived here all my life and I can’t see going anywhere else. Will probably have some of my ashes scattered here when I’m gone. But until then, I’m going to enjoy the beauty and people I love here.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Maryland flag Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

And I got to get work on making it even a better place to live.

Flags at attention today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nothing like being chased by or chasin after a 3 year old all day.
  • There are only so many hours between now and when I wake and I intend to sleep every one of them.
  • Some nights I get a head start on sleep.

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The gift of time

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

Wandered up this street many times. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Damp and cloudy

Yes, it was lightly raining and very cloudy but that didn’t dampen our spirits. It’s my mission to start to explore more and take my better half to more places and see more things. So this coming year while the pandemic still ebbs and flows I’m looking for outdoor events.

Even though I’ve explored a good bit I still don’t feel like I’ve scratched the surface of this wonderful state. I was looking around at holiday events and saw this in Frederick Maryland so off we went last night. I like the feel of this town.

It’s not like we haven’t been here before, just never around the holidays.

Photos by Mike Hartley

It was also the first time in a good while I felt like taking the heavy Nikon out for an extended period. The shoulder is healing nicely but that thing is a cinder block. Nice camera, don’t get me wrong, just heavy for an old out of shape guy. And yes we are going to fix the out-of-shape part this coming year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Just because you get one good nights sleep it doesn’t mean its going to be followed by another.
  • Just to be clear and transparent I’m not clear and transparent.
  • A voice of a generation or two for the NFL. RIP John Madden. At least in the booth he was seated or just standing. On the sidelines he was quiet animated.
  • I’m going to take my own advice and RTFM tonight.
  • Any day you see a grandchild is a great day.

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A wonderful evening with friends out on the water. A good dinner a Nicks and an evening ride back to the docks. While we were just sitting there a blue heron landed on the dock near us and didn’t leave till we were about 45 minutes later.

I’m sorry, I just can’t contain myself. Photo by Mike Hartley

A father of one of my best friends’ childhood friends took us out from Canton to Nick’s. We ate outside and there was a breeze coming off the water. We were on the edge, so even though there were many people, the air was moving the other way. Funny how I think about those things now.

A good meal and lots of laughs. We ate well and treated our Captain. Events like this bring balance to what seemed to be getting out of control again. It helped put things in perspective.

Getting ready to tie us off and tie one on. Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyway, back to reality today. Rainy morning with a flash flood watch for this Friday in central Maryland. I guess that is the balance that comes after a beautiful evening. Today is going to be spent with my better half and continuing to set balance to my mind and body. And while hours of hard work await this weekend my mindset today is to have a great time.

I hadn’t been to this dock since one of our friends passed. If you had anything to do with the beautiful day Dan, thank you. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe a little exercise for the mind and soul. I think I’ll try to whip together a few posts and of course capture some new images to go along with the aimless wanderings of my mind. And with the job that pays the bills in the rearview mirror for the week, I’m looking forward to a great day despite the raindrops.

A shadowy figure. He’s about 4′ tall like that. I bet he is 5′ when he stretches that neck. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no bad day to photograph.
  • I have a music deficiency and I must remedy that today.
  • As summer draws to an end my mind thinks about my daughter and daughter inlaw returning to the classroom. It is with an unusual unease this year. Normally would be thoughts of, I hope they get a good group of kids. Now my thought are more worry about them staying healthy and the kids parents.
  • Water brings calm into my life. It also brings work, had an area with some washout with that monsoon this past week. So between the raindrops this weekend I will be working on that mess.
  • It’s funny how the pandemic has changed my desire for getting a haircut as often. And everytime it starts to get a little long I think about letting it grow real long again. And then another week or two go by and I say holy crap.

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I need some crabs

I might have to go get a few Maryland Blue crabs this coming week. Maybe some melted butter for dipping. Hey, it’s summer in this state and that is what we do.

I could claw my way through a few of these. Photo by Mike Hartley

Crabs are finger food. Maybe a mallet for the claws but nothing else is needed. Just some room. And yes with those sharp edges come some finger nicks from time to time and when that Old Bay seasoning hits it the reminder to grab the cold tall glass of beer in front of you kicks in.

Thankfully I was taught at a young age how it works. How to make short work of the de-shelling part. I’ve seen some good pickers but the wife of one of my best friends still stands out in my mind almost 5 decades later. He would be eating along at a good pace but all of a sudden you started to notice this mound of picked crabmeat beside him. You glance away for a minute and the mound became a pile. You take a sip of beer, the pile is now a small hill and then a mountain. She was fast.

By the bushel, and BUY the Bushel. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s easy to recall a lot of good experiences both crabbing in our youth to eating them this summer. I guess a common theme also is that they are enjoyed with family and friends always. Rarely have I eaten crabs alone. Could probably count it on one hand and have a few fingers left over. No, I’m not including polishing off the last few crabs the next morning after the feast. That is part of the feast.

You can get just about anything as examples below with crab in Maryland. I believe the Baltimore National Pike Crabhouse on Rt 40 served a heaping crab pizza many decades ago. One of our good friends could grill up a mean rockfish covered with crabmeat from a crabcake mixture. May he rest in peace, I can still picture him weaving in front of the grill after a day of fishing together. Of course, we were all weaving that day if I recollect correctly.

Bloody Mary from the Crabcake Factory. Photo by MIke Hartley

I like my homemade crabcakes but picking fresh ones is right there at the top of the ways to have them. We are constantly in search of the best cream of crab soup. Crabs are a blessing to this area. Many always thought lobster was at the top of the seafood chain but Blue Crabs from Maryland prepared fresh are a treat that I think tops the larger crustacean.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This past year or so has shown me in a new way that the adage “Ignorance is bliss” is really true.
  • I still get excited when I clean my glasses and put them back on and can see again.
  • I have no problem with people using mowing services. I have a problem with the services showing up at 7:15am.
  • Looking forward to learning is the way to live.
  • I had a south of the border start yesterday, taco’s for breakfast.

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Surfs up again

By the time I finished editing, I had 89 photos so instead of piling them on here, I put a gallery up on my Zenfolio site, link below. The first 15 were posted yesterday. The first 2/3 of the shoot it was pretty dark out. Got some better shots as time went on. 6:45 am to 9 am between 33rd and 45th streets.

I didn’t know you could pull waves along. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing I was smelling that salt air but nope, back to reality and the thought of work tonight. Sort of like doing a face plant.

But not all is lost. A refreshed spirit. A renewed sense of hope and inspiration. Time is taken to reflect and plan. A relaxed mind and attention to the body. Learning to let things run off my back. Seeing things closing in and putting some distance between them and me. Learning to turn on a dime when called for instead of a straight path. Being mentally strong, taking a shot, and still coming out upright. Not letting highs and lows affect the focus.

Surfing has a lot in common with life. Maybe I should try it when this shoulder heals or is fixed.

Actually, I shot these on the morning of July 9th. I got up early to do 2 things. I wanted to see what damage that tropical storm had done overnight and I wanted a couple of minutes of solitude on the beach. I was thinking about my Dad who passed 55 years ago this day. I told my daughter I would be back in 30 minutes when I left. The sun had risen but you couldn’t tell with the heavy cloud cover.

I like the water and I believe my Dad loved it. He was a career Navy man till his medical discharge. A veteran of WWII in the Pacific on a Destroyer. Also a Korean vet and Operation Deep Freeze Task Force 43. I wish I had a chance to know the man much better and get his experience and wisdom, I hope he is proud of me.

I also know my father-in-law loved the beach. Also former military.

I was stunned by the crowd on the beach so I hung back in the sand for a few moments because I was having trouble with my composure thinking of my father and my recently passed in-laws. But as a few guys with boards passed by I heard their excitement and chuckled to myself. So I wiped a tear from my eye and proceeded down to the water where it was thriving with people much earlier than normal.

I’ve been getting in the habit of carrying my camera with me all the time now and using it more. I had thrown it over my neck when I went out just in case of dramatic damage from the winds. But I soon discovered a unique day. The winds were blowing offshore for a change of pace. The water was alive with hundreds of surfers. A very friendly group of people. Several came up and asked if I would be posting pictures. I told them my blog name and they also suggested a Facebook group called Ocean City Maryland Surfing so added them there also.

I completely lost track of time and 2 hours later I had a ton of images. I had felt as gloomy as the skies that morning when I touched the sand. As I walked off it the sun was shining through and my spirits were positive. Just one of the many times in life I feel like someone who’s passed is looking out for me. I could have easily gone back to bed in sadness, or just sat on the balcony and missed some great action in the water and interactions with friendly surfers. Maybe someone got my backside out there for a purpose.

Have a great day all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A cold Coke in a glass bottle always taste much better.
  • Only a few more years tilll every day is a vacation day.
  • Time to remove the beach unintentionally bright back from the shore from the SUV.
  • I think I’ll schedule a day off for a day trip to the beach soon in the convertible.

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Surfing OC

Went out this morning and caught a few waves. Well more accurately I caught some people on waves, I was onshore with the camera. It was so overcast early when the waves were good I didn’t get the sharpness I had hoped for. That and my slow lens and lack of skills kept things less than optimal. I’ll add more excuses later with the next batch.

I’ve got dozens more to edit and will post some of the better ones later today. I asked to join the OC Facebook site today so I’ll post some there if they accept my membership.

I learned surfers are a friendly bunch of people. I learned both old and young can surf. I learned there is some good from strong storms. But I also know that with a torn shoulder muscle I’m not strong enough to swing in that mess.

Have a good afternoon all.

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It’s going to be HOT

Here in the northeast, it’s HOT. My favorite season and I can take it. But I’m smart enough (finally) to be careful with the heat. I just read this morning that it was the hottest June on record in North America. To my liking but disconcerting still at the same time.

Water is needed on a day like today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of hot, it’s so nice to go out to eat and get a hot meal from the kitchen on plates instead of carry-out plastic. To have someone wait on you and take the order and bring you a drink. All the things we took for granted for so long no longer are. But for how long before we start to think we did before the pandemic.

I for one won’t forget that and hopefully, we won’t have to experience that again. Actually, I’m thankful for every meal I have be it being served to me, or carry-out or fixing it ourselves. So many people without the ability to eat well or regularly. This reminds me it’s time for a donation to the Maryland food bank.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Children are like learning sponges.
  • Weather comes and comes, whether you like it or not.
  • Ah the first tropical storm of the season, Free car wash.
  • I haven’t met a nap I haven’t liked.

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Station Break

Sorry about the absence but I took a couple of days for some outside work, a grandchild and also some fun. I get to see my granddaughter once a week and I can’t tell you the recharge that gives me. I also got time to spend with my closest friends and their better halves on beautiful Kent Island yesterday. Days like that have been a long time in coming. It’s like a sign of returning to the past times that made life special.

It also begins a new chapter in our lives. One couple is retiring in short order and is a bit apprehensive. One couple just got what I think will be their forever home and I’m so happy for them except it does change one dynamic. We all have lived fairly close to each other for decades. And by we, I mean my best friends. (except for our brother in Florida). And when I say close 10-20 minutes max. Now we have over an hour’s ride to one of the group. But things like that don’t stop us. We will just have to plan better and adjust. We always do.

The more I ride bicycles on the flatlands of the Eastern Shore the more I like it. I’ve always enjoyed riding bikes. From my days when I could first ride and then having a paper route, and to riding to a real job in high school just before I got my own 4 wheels. Riding in Howard County used to be fun when I was much younger. Traffic now prevents the kind of freedom and you either have to cart your bikes to areas that are also getting increasingly crowded.

Riding a bike around a coastal town or boardwalk and along a bay are some of the most relaxing and enjoyable experiences. It’s the beautiful views, sounds, and smells. It’s peacefulness, mostly found in the offseason but you can also get it in season if you’re up early or late at night. But yesterday the 10-mile jaunt to the south end of the island was great.

The more I go across the bridge the more it feels like another world. And by a bridge, I mean this span below. It’s just a more relaxed life across the bridge.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like I’m using each day better.
  • The smell of salt air is refreshing.
  • If you both appreciate your significant other more each day, life is easy.
  • This pollen season seems heavier than some past. Maybe because it’s been so dry this month.


Little time but productive

That rainy day allowed for some good sleeping yesterday. Longest I’ve been out in a while. And even though I rose late, I remembered it was a Giving Day for the Red Cross and American Cancer Society. So I pried my wallet open and gave some to each. They were doing a matching funds day. So the day was a success before the workday even started.

My best days are always when I can help someone else. Giving money is the least of them. Not everyone can afford to, but everyone has time. The giving of time is the most precious gift of all. Well, I guess blood and organ donation might be up there also. But I need to do better with my time in helping others.

Anyway it felt good to help a bit.

Of course, I could not let the day pass without acknowledging that it is Maryland Day. Too bad all the events were this past weekend according to this Maryland link. Well, the state doesn’t have a corner on the market for celebrations and events. I can have my own because I love this state. Plus it’s the start of my weekend so let the party begin.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, it’s probably going to be expensive to retire here. Yes, it’s way too crowded now. Yes, we have problems like every other state. But we have Maryland blue crabs and Old Bay seasoning and a great flag to start with. We have some really cool highways if you like driving at 3am. Otherwise, we have a lot of parking lots.

Just some sun and the two most important flags to me. Photo by Mike Hartley

We have some great people and some idiots. We have oceans and mountains and bays, rivers and lakes. We have history and historic sights. We have all 4 seasons. There are big cities and large farms. Beautiful state parks to bustling industry. Anyway, I like it despite its few flaws.

I’ve finished the workday and caught a few ZZZ’s, it’s time to shower and throw on my Maryland tee shirt and hat and kick off the festivities.

Oh, I can’t go without mentioning the Lady Terps in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. That is one well-coached and well-run program and we are lucky to have the consistency and excellence they have shown. And I think they have a great chance of going all the way. I go to Maryland games with my Son. Maybe I should start taking my Daughter to see the Lady Terps next year. I can’t wait to get back in that stadium and hear the roar and see the Maryland flag come down through the stands. of the student section.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If a majority of people hate having to cut grass why do we buy so many products to make it grow more?
  • An old friend just retired. I’m jealous.
  • I’m also dreading the day if I ever have to return to the office.
  • I used to enjoy the sound of a clock ticking. Not so much as I age now.
  • The search for a shot begins.

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It was a good morning to catch up on some rest so that is what I did on Thursday. Friday was a burl. Now starts another weekend that I’m both looking forward to and apprehensive about. So I’m going to hope for the best.

You really didn’t say that did you? Photo by Mike Hartley

Patience – So I’m relaxed when I got up the other day and then I saw Governor Hogan said he wants schools open on March 1st. But I thought I heard him say last week how difficult it was to get the needed doses of vaccine and getting them to the people when they were in hand. And we are in phase 1 right? I thought it was going to be late summer at best before 75-80% of the people had the vaccine. So for the sake of having the kids in school for 3 months and not having to listen to some parent’s bitch, you’re going to risk more sickness and death.

I’m trying to be patient but I get these conflicting messages and I wonder about safety. Yes, I know all the reasons to get kids back in school. Yes, I know it has an impact on the economy complicating care/work. But what is a life worth? Be it a child, teacher, administrator, bus driver, cafeteria server, what cost are you willing to pay personally. I have two children who are teachers. I hope both get their vaccine and second shot in time but what if that doesn’t happen? Neither has happened to date. I’m sure I don’t want the Gov playing Russian roulette with my children and their family’s health.

He says there is no public health reason for schools not to reopen. And he sounds like he’s going to be a hardass about it. Well, that kind of pushes a few of my buttons so let’s rock. Let me ask you something Gov, your stats don’t back up your statements of no risk. Either that or the logic in the spring was all F’ed up or now you have a different set of standards. We are averaging double the number of cases we had in the spring and the number of deaths per day as of today and the highest peaks in May is only slightly lower than the spring 43 to 56 per day average. Not to mention the more contagious form of the Virus now starting to circulate in this country and has been found in Maryland. So who’s backside did you pull that statement of no public health reason for schools not to reopen from? Really I’d like to know because both of you need to be rethinking threatening people like this.

And let me give you something to ponder Gov. If you do pull this off and someone or many people pass, who do you think will be blamed for these deaths? And who do you think will be held accountable? I know the answer to those questions and if you think the answer is someone else, think again. And if you’re just grandstanding for a bunch of parents who march in Annapolis, then shame on you also.

Governor, in my opinion, you would have been smarter to say “Obviously we are looking at schools and having kids and teachers back in them asap. We are assessing this week by week along with the risk and possible phased plans. But it all depends on the risk to the community, availability of the vaccine, and our ability to prepare the facilities. We will keep you updated weekly with our findings and reasonings because the situation fluctuates so fast we have to be responding the same way. All school systems or communities’ availability of the vaccine might not be equal. The virus has mutated and new risks are coming to light that also has to factor in. To base decisions off one week’s statistics and then have a spike and have to shut down doesn’t make any sense. We are working with the facilities to make sure they can be maintained safely. We are working with the teachers union on protocols and safety and guidelines. We are making sure everyone from the person serving your child a meal or cleaning the school to the bus driver and everyone in between has been fully vaccinated. Also, it has not been determined even if you are vaccinated that you can’t carry the virus so it is important even when the return to school facilities happens that safety protocols in place are still followed. Obviously, I have no control over individual county’s school systems but as the Governor of the state of Maryland, we are deploying all resources in helping communities best determine when schools open safely with as much information and financial support needed. Thank you for your patience.”

But NOOOOO, you start with threats. For someone who does a lot of things right, when you screw up you don’t fool around. Of course the same can be said about me, so we are bedfellows who don’t use our best judgment from time to time.

Good luck with your next decision/action. Remember, live and learn.

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Nice start to the week

Vacations don’t have to be exotic locals to be great. Not that we don’t have a lot of exotic locals here in the great state of Maryland, we do and the Eastern shore is one of them.

And when in Rome, eat like the Romans. So I had a crabcake sandwich for lunch in the middle of our walk around the town in St Michaels yesterday.

Crabcake from Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St Michaels MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

The whole town was hoping for a Monday. And with the weather in the mid-’90s and humid, it was a day I thought might be quiet. And it was probably quiet compared to a weekend.

Was a little crowded at the Crab Claw. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is one of the things I like about small towns. You can ride bikes around and really see the place and not get run over. That is what I love about Bethany Beach in September and October.

The way to get around town. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course if you can be pushed around there is nothing wrong with that mode of transport also.

A town for both young and old. I’ll have to stop at the brewery and winery they have there next time. Photo by Mike Hartley

I look at the shot above and remember the day we would push our own children around. Time has passed so fast. Now we push grandchildren.

We were looking for benches in the shade. Photo by Mike Hartley

Looking out over the water while having a nice lunch with the love of your life can make any day.

I never get tired of water. I do get tired in water though. Photo by Mike Hartley

On the way to St Michael’s on Rt 33, we saw this cast of characters below saying Thanks for the Memories and Farewell. Of course, I had to come home and look up what it was related to and found this Nugget about it.

Roadside Theater. Photo by Mike Hartley

So after the fun of yesterday today it was back to the home projects on Tuesday. Much was accomplished. I hope to get out early Wednesday morning before daylight and grab some night photography and some early morning shots.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a big difference in a push and riding mower on a hot day.
  • Comedians are funny but they don’t replace laughs with friends.
  • Time for a ride at night with the top down.

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Looking for it again

It seems like forever that I’ve seen this view. I can’t wait to see it again. A lot of people don’t like driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is rather long and tall. I guess practice makes perfect. I remember riding my motorcycle over it and that open mesh part at the highest point where you could look straight down 186 feet through the metal grate and see the water. Of course, I would try to stay off that because it gave a wobble to the bike.

Video by Mike Hartley

I can sense the morning coming up that I see a nice weather report and I just say screw it all and throw a beach towel and sunglasses in the car and head east. Just doing that reminds me of my youth. I hope I never lose that desire.

Instead of some shooting today I worked on getting a small studio set up in my basement. But I did run across an image from last week that I liked.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are few things as encouraging as seeing someone close to you getting better physically and mentally day by day.
  • With Arlington National Cemetery closed it feels significantly different than when I’ve visited in the past. And I kind of like it that way but wouldn’t deny the country the opportunity to visit when this is over.
  • This virus illustrates how lazy, selfish, and stupid this country can be.

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My time

I think I figured out why I can’t sleep. I can’t wait till I get to wake up each day. Early mornings and late nights are mostly my time. I never thought about that before but it’s nice to start and end a day that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a loaner. I have a great number of people in between those times.

Give me sunrise, give me sunset. And another day to enjoy them again. Photo by Mike Hartley

And I enjoy people greatly but I also like my time. Having a few minutes to create or just veg on the couch. Maybe a quick read or jot down a few ideas. Maybe clean the workroom or office a bit. Maybe make another print after changing inks again. Or pick up the camera for a few frames.

When I don’t get my time, I get out of sorts. Yes, usually I make the decision to sacrifice it for one reason or another, some good and some poor. But I’m finding those few minutes or an hour or two can make a huge difference. I’m thinking of slowing down and not sacrificing them as much in the coming days.

The mental health benefits are too great to ignore. Just like I’ve come to realize a good night’s sleep is worth its weight in gold. Another reason I’m so poor. But I’m working on these things.

Grief – I’m watching people go through it, and experienced some myself. I’m amazed at the strength of my mother-in-law. I’m also touched by the depth of her hurt. They say losing a child is the most painful event, but losing your lifelong partner/husband of almost 7 decades has to be a close second. I’m amazed at the strength and resiliency of my better half in dealing with both the loss and becoming a caregiver. I was impressed by how well most of the family pulled together.

The hurt sometimes lasts forever for some. Yes, you can also move on but there is a missing part of you. Those shared memories that only you have now. That special person missing to sometimes recall them and smile or laugh or cry upon hearing again.

As I get older myself, sometimes I sit back now and just listen intently to a best friend tell one of the many stories of our past. One we have probably shared many times before. And now I take it in, put it in a memory bank so if one day I’m recalling that story and nobody else is around that remembers it, I’ll replay the glory and zest my best friends tell it with now. But I’ll have to imagine the wink or laugh or shot to the gut or back of the head if I tell it right or mess any part of it up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have so many lists I need a directory for them.
  • We can change, we prove it to ourselves all the time. It’s just taking those final steps after that long walk.
  • One day I will prove time moves faster on days off.
  • United we stand said no one at the bar.
  • You can love as much as your heart can give. Just try it, you will be surprised how deep that well is.


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.