THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley



I love spending time near or in the water. But that isn’t where the job that pays the bills is so I’ll be putting that enjoyment aside for a bit.

Kent Narrows. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t make my goal of a few solo day trips to the ocean this year. Only one in fact but that is better than the year before. Next summer won’t have work interfering with opportunities to head East to the Shore.

Just a wider angle shot of Kent Narrows from the Bridges Restaurant. Photo by Mike Hartley

The last week of summer is upon us so make good use of it. I hope to catch some rays today. Of course, some of that might be behind a lawn mower.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hear it’s going to be a breezy afternoon. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that smell of the saltwater air made it this far inland?
  • Do you ever get so hungry when you are really tired and you think about the time and energy needed to cook something and just go to bed?
  • I’m on a mission to take a good photo today.
  • 25% of my workweek is complete before most people get out of bed on Monday.

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I wish I was at the shore

A beautiful Saturday morning is upon us in the mid-Atlantic. A little cool for my taste but it will warm up quickly.

The early bird gets the fish. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love being up before sunrise on my days off. It’s a good inspiration to begin anew each morning.

I hope a little sunshine is part of your day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have grand plans for the day. Some woodwork this morning. Maybe a few chores and then kicking back the rest of the day. Hopefully, I’ll capture some of that later in the photos.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I watched a video of my grandson’s first steps over and over. I can’t wait for the next time I see him and he takes steps to me.
  • Many lessons can be learned by listening well, having your eyes open, and being honest with yourself.
  • I need to be a better finisher. I’ll keep saying this till it takes hold of me. Too many unfinished projects.
  • Find things to be proud of in life. It makes the journey much happier.

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Sound replacement

Pull up a chair and relax a bit, it’s the weekend and we all deserve a break. Then again if you have a two or three-wheel vehicle you should report to Ocean City Maryland if you haven’t already for the mecca of roaring V-Twins.

Yep, it’s BIKE WEEK at the shore.

Some days I miss riding a lot. Photo by Mike Hartley

The sounds of the waves are replaced by the roaring of Harleys and a few other brands. So much so that if you aren’t a biker you will be a bit put off by the thunder of the thousands of bikers in town. Then again it’s quite a show even if you’re not a biker.

I gave up my seat on the bike a good while back. I was tired of all the close calls, some health issues, and limited riding seasons here. I’m no wimp when it comes to weather. I rode a bike year-round for a year. Snow, ice, and all of it. I was so frozen once I couldn’t get my leg down quickly enough when I got home and almost dropped.

And while the seat of my Miata with the top down at the beach is my favorite, when I see the bikes I get a yearning to ride again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Yesterday I made my granddaughter happy. We made crafts for her Mom for hours.
  • Listen to some comedy and laugh. Go to a club and laugh. Or at least smile and laugh.
  • Life should be the practice of learning to live better and be happier each day. And then make those lives around you better.
  • I found a pair of sunglasses I’ve been looking for.
  • Contemplating life is fun. Living it is much better.

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M Meet

I joined an online group of people who own Miata’s in Maryland. They have regular monthly hookups and trips and I finally got to my first meeting yesterday at the parking lot outside Neo Pizza and Taphouse. What a nice group of people who enjoy the roadster experience and fixing up their rides.

I’m looking forward to meeting more of them and fixing up my own ride. Thought I’d share a few photos I posted to the group today here also.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I love the maps they have provided for scenic routes and landmarks with other tips. I can’t wait to take a few of those this fall when the colors change. And provide you pictures of these cars in their element.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve worked in the same industry for just about 5 decades, and I’ve never been more uncertain about its future than I am now and what my role would be in it. So there is no better time to reinvent myself.
  • This is the LAST Labor Day Holiday I will be working for someone else.
  • There are some serious issues between labor and management in many industries that are coming to a head.
  • Again my salute to all who labor who don’t get the financial rewards or appreciation they deserve. Fire and police, teachers and medical, transportation to sanitation, farmers to senior care, food prep to childcare. To those at the lower end in retail and service industries that get treated like crap. I salute you all.

Top Ten reasons to retire

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Chillin competition

It’s going to be a competition to see who can be Chillin The Most the next several days because it’s going to get HOT HOT HOT. Well, not the southern part of the country hot but plenty hot for the mid-Atlantic region. Actually, it has been a fairly mild summer with only 29 days above 90 degrees in Baltimore.

And yes that is 4×400 on the back. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll be headed out the door to wash the car in a few minutes. A cruise later and maybe some time in the hammock before we start work in about 12 hours.

Speaking of Chillin, there was a loss in the field of that style of music with Jimmy Buffett’s passing. Think I’ll go give a listen again to a tune or two.

Condolences ParrotHeads. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Having a hard time wrapping my mind around working tonight and tomorrow night.
  • I have to get out and visit my parents soon.
  • Starting a new effort in communication this month. I’ll let you know how it works out.
  • No shoes or socks today, just flip-flops.

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Coming into the light

Many a night I am awake all night working, but being on vacation the last few days I’ve been able to flip my sleep to nights. And some more hours per night, and boy does that make a difference in both physical and mental health.

I’ve so enjoyed rising just before sunrise and being able to enjoy the SUN all day instead of having to sleep through half or more of it depending on the season.

Catching the first rays of the day. Photo by MIke Hartley

Nights have always been part of my work schedule to some degree. That is quite disruptive to sleep schedules, not that I’ve ever had one, with the exception of maybe my first few years of life. I guess with the end of full-time work in sight it’s making this last year a little more challenging.

Then again it could be the age thing trying to sneak up on me. Regardless it’s now a struggle at a few or many points in the evening. My eyes get heavy, my body aches, my concentration isn’t what it was and I just get tired.

I have to keep reminding myself, I’m in the home stretch.

I like Ruffles in my Roads. – Give me the back roads of rolling hills and twisty turns all day long. I’m going to let the younger crowd have their way on the big state and interstate highways. A lot less stress and more enjoyment on the back roads.

Homes, neighborhoods, and farms dot the route instead of concrete barriers and super hot asphalt. Cruising speeds are more enjoyable because you’re not surrounded on each side and back.

I’m looking forward to my Sunday morning cruise. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hear the Maryland Miata group is meeting tomorrow morning and if nothing more pressing is going on I’ll swing by and see some fellow 2 seaters.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The first sad day in Margaritaville ever.
  • I’m going to make this a strong 4th quarter.
  • Several forecast days of 90+ degrees after Labor Day should indicate summer is far from over.
  • I’m assuming the role of grillmaster today.

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Little things

I had lunch with a very important friend today. We met many decades ago at work. But it’s one of those relationships that just became very special. I think of her as a sister. We hadn’t been able to catch up in a while so it was very good to bring each other up to speed again on our lives and dreams and all the things we find humorous which is quite a lot. As well as the tests and difficulties we all experience along the way in life. We share a lot.

It was near the end of our long lunch that I saw something I hadn’t seen in her for some time. I saw that spark I used to see at work that would ignite such energy, enthusiasm, and insights within her that just spilled out like a tsunami that would inspire those around her.

We might have walked out of there together embarking on another journey and joint effort to create something special. I know I’m excited and came home and worked on some more ideas. Then again life may overtake us. But I have a feeling this one might move ahead. Time will tell.

Looking at the Spa Creek Drawbridge into Annapolis MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Who knew such a cloudy, overcast, drizzly day would turn out to be such a ray of sunshine? It has kind of inspired me with a few more creative thoughts for my own projects.

Had a great lunch at Carrol’s Creek Cafe today.

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Beat the heat

Going to be a warm one today in the mid-Atlantic and I love it. I’ll work on my tan while doing some yard work. After that, I plan on moving the hammock to the shade and maybe doing some reading. Whatever you need to do to beat the heat by all means do it.

Boating is a popular option to beat the heat. Photo by Mike Hartley

When going out to lunch yesterday I showed my better half a trick to enjoy the convertible on a hot day. There isn’t any rule against running the A/C with the top down. You can still stay comfortable cruising around with that combination up to 90 degrees easily.

I got a feeling after moving that wood pile today that a snowball would be a great way to beat the heat. And that reminds me I have to get the splash pad out for the granddaughter this week.

Shade and food. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is the kind of summer lunch I like above. Belly Busters in Ocean City. I love their rockfish tacos and the steamed crabs and shrimp have been good. And it’s one of the few places around where I’ve gotten conch fritters and they were very good.

We used to stay right across the street from them so we have had most of their menu over several years and always been happy.

To all the Teachers

May your rooms be blessed with ears eager to listen, minds open to learning, supportive parents and administrations, and facilities that will keep you warm and cool when needed.

May you get the support of family and friends when things aren’t going well. May you still see the humor in situations. May you be blessed with the wisdom and skills to help with all the needs kids have that aren’t being met on the outside that filter into your classrooms.

May you feel the admiration that many have for your profession and abilities, this year and throughout your careers.

May you be granted extra patience and love for your own children when you get home, to equal out the stresses of dealing with 20-30 of them all day.

Remember that when you make learning fun, the ones you teach will never forget you. Have a great year to all. Especially my daughters.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling that sense of urgency again.
  • I like finding something amazing each day. Living near nature helps a lot.
  • It’s time to shake up the basement production facility.
  • The nation hasn’t hit an intersection like this in a great many years.

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Not going to worry about yesterday and the uncomfortable thoughts a memorial service gave me. Not going to think about tomorrow and the return to work. I am going to make good use of this day.

Oh, to be on the Eastern Shore of Maryland this fine day. Maybe next week. I’ll have to hope my friend sends me a text today with a photo from Kent Island.

Green Grass and High Tides. A song from a group called The Outlaws. Also a view of the Eastern shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

But first, the yard needs cutting. Hope everyone is having a good morning.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope I can do something special today. Either for someone else or creating something good.
  • Remember having to say “present” when the teacher called attendance. Ops, may have just dated myself. I have no idea why that popped into my head and provided today’s title.
  • Finally felt like stretching and some morning exercises helped the back after many failed attempts at the same thing the last two weeks.
  • These last two mornings have been unusually cool for August.

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I find if I look at all the things I should be appreciative of each day, the things that didn’t go right or that I didn’t have or didn’t experience don’t mean all that much.

What better place for a morning stretch? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying hard to get my body right. I don’t know why it’s giving me such a hard time lately. It’s a better week than the last one so I’ll take small victories.

My better half has returned from her mini vacation with my daughter and granddaughter. I guess I’ll have to keep the music down tonight.

The weekend will start in about 10 hours. Life is good and after work tonight, I intend on getting to it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How do you not like a photo of a child smiling?
  • Don’t worry beach, I hear you calling me. I’ll be on my way soon.
  • Walking into a spider web outside is frustrating. Walking into one inside really frost me.
  • I had a hummingbird fly up to a couple of inches away from me while sitting on my porch. Those things really do hum.

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Take the time

I rave about the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but the central and western parts of the state are quite beautiful also. Twisty back roads with cornfields as guardrails dotted occasionally with farms. And the further west you go the elevations start to play a wonderful game of can you top this view.

On my return trip from Westminster. Photo by Mike Hartley

We loved going out to Rocky Gap, Frederick, Hagerstown, and Cumberland. We have done it far less than the coast but that might change. I love the roads out west. Less congestion and once past Frederick, less rude drivers.

Even though I was running an errand it was great getting out but chores called and I responded. Tomorrow is another matter altogether. Another warm sunny day that I plan to pretty much spend outside enjoying myself till it’s time for work.

I’ve got to drop some photos off with an old friend, maybe hit the county fair and have a good lunch out.

I love fresh corn during the summer. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll have the time to grab a lot of images, maybe even get the Dremel tool outside and create some dust.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope to do things that make me smile all day tomorrow. Well, at least until work starts.
  • My daughter got me a gift card for my favorite sub shop. I’m going to have to fast a little bit before going there for the steak and cheese sub.
  • OK, everyone in Maryland, a big cheer for the linemen/women on the job fixing everyone’s power.
  • I try not to get mad at the job taking so many hours away from all the things I love.

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A different shade of blue

Finally getting back on track here. I blotted out the pain last night and slept a bit. So here is to a productive and happy Friday. Even though the weather is dreary here in central Maryland this morning my spirits are high.

I never knew the joy of a convertible till my purchase of the Miata in 2016. I will never own another hardtop again. I so wish I had discovered it earlier. Then again a lot of years on the motorcycle were probably why I didn’t think about the need for a car with the drop top.

Powder Blue is the name of the color that pops to mind. Photos by Mike Hartley

I think my better half has fallen in love with the convertible aspect also. The top is rarely up when I’m out and about with it. I have road a motorcycle for a lot of years but never without a helmet. This is sort of like that without the hat.

In some ways, it’s still like riding a bike. A small car gets only a little more respect than a bike. And sometimes a blast from the pipes on the bike would be enough of a warning. But in a small car without those young man modifications like superchargers and headers, it’s just a matter of being seen.

Now that ride in the pictures is one that would get some respect with its size and bumpers.

Time to charge the batteries because there might be a few minutes to squeeze in some shooting today. I’m hoping some blue sky’s come out to play sometime today.

The Globe in Berlin Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve never been to The Globe but I know we are going back to this wonderful town on the Eastern Shore.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Everyone should be taught compassion for animals at a young age. It (compassion) transfers to people as we get older.
  • We get to hear from the new VP this coming week. Will be interesting to get his visions.
  • There is a winning moment every day.
  • That was a good Thursday night vigil last evening with my best friends.

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Maybe Monday

Let’s start the week with a splash instead of going into it with trepidation. My 4-year-old granddaughter just reminded me through a few photographs of her at preschool this morning to go forward with both confidence and conviction.

Incoming. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess it was wildlife day and they were discovering snakes and turtles. She confidently held the both while her classmates seemed to be hesitating to get near. I’m so glad they get exposure to creatures that we should be sharing the earth with. And I’m glad to see her interacting with nature.

These two photos are of each side of the inlet at Ocean City. Photo by Mike Hartley

As a youth, my friends and I spent a lot of time outside. Every day outside and being this was a rather rural county at that age we discovered many snakes, turtles, and other wildlife all the time. Building forts in the woods, walking through streams and creeks, climbing trees and hills. And doing it every season.

Then someone would get a football and a baseball and basketball and we would still be outside all day playing. Just about all of it was a pickup with neighborhood kids with a small part being organized sports.

I know my kids got a lot less of that than I did even though we had woods behind our house. We didn’t have the modern distractions they had. Not that they didn’t get outside, it’s just a different era of play and technology. Just like it will be now for their children.

So I’m moving forward with confidence and conviction today. Glad to see some things carrying on and thinking about how I can do my part to give them some of the older experiences I had.

It’s time to get lost in some music. Lots of it. Music from long ago that revives the young man in me. Like plugging in an EV for a charge, music does that for me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking I should call my sister today.
  • I miss having my own pet. I’m going to go do some time at the shelters when I retire.
  • Insurance – I’ve realized (too late) that insurance has become like employers. You got to move around if you want the best deal.
  • I get tanned pretty well working outside in the summer. But the best tan I like getting is when I’m not working and soaking up the rays.

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I measure success by lots of small things as I’ve gotten older. I could look at very productive days in the past and think I failed because I didn’t complete some list, for many years. Spent a lot of useless time beating myself up and in turn maybe even doing less.

Today success will be felt in many ways. From my work here to the yardwork and maybe polishing my ride. Talking to my kids and friends, maybe finishing a book.

Seats compliments of one of my best friends. Thanks, buddy. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was looking at another example of success last night. And it got me thinking about sports and what is success in that business. For sports are no longer a game. It’s an event that is measured in bets and wagers on runs, winners, how many errors, and whatever anyone can think of to bet on. Oh, they play games, the fans like me come and cheer.

It’s an event to be seen at or do your selfies at. But for plenty of fans, it’s an out-of-reach event. Tickets, parking, and concessions will gut you quicker than a slaughterhouse. The player salaries and the owner’s wants are making this kind of thing a much more selective choice. I’ll continue to go to the University of Maryland basketball games but pro sports and the cost associated with it has gone beyond what I think is reasonable.

All this focus on the betting aspect makes me wonder what kind of lessons we are teaching our kids. Many still love the game for what it is, a game. And I’m guessing most who play it, play it for the enjoyment of the game and being a professional. To be part of a team, to do something special with and against your peers.

But the money has really altered the experience. Just look at all the arrangements between teams and betting organizations. The list at the top is by the team and the bottom by leagues and all their ties by SportsHandle and their partnership tracker.

Don’t let the above make you think I don’t still enjoy “The Game.” Because I do very much and always will because I’ll remember it as I grew up with it. I mean who sits out a 2-hour and 30-minute rain delay and then stays just about the entire game? A person who loves a good game. Remarkable efforts, drama of natural form, and the crowd getting more and more into each play as it’s 0-0 through 8 innings.

It rained in sheets on a sheet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately, my Yankees fell to the O’s again 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. But in the rain delay before the game started, the Governor of Maryland appeared in the Orioles jersey below.

You can’t be the GOV without taking in the Orioles game once in a while. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today was a success for many reasons. The main one is a family member who really needed a boost and got a big one today. I managed to get some work done in the heat and we had a nice dinner tonight which I’ll extoll the virtues of tomorrow. I lost track of time watching the Yankees/O’s tonight which looks to be a much more favorable result for me than last night.

On the way to the parking garage in downtown Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love the thought of pointing the car east this week.
  • Nothing like experimenting. Sometimes you learn a lot.
  • I love warm summer nights.

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Midweek mayhem

A very uncomfortable morning impeded my progress but there are ways to overcome that. So let’s crank up the engine and see what we can come out with today.

I read #1 regret of retirees was starting with a vague financial plan. So I’m doing my best to avoid that one with some effort. I’m a person who likes knowns. I can plan with knowns. Therefore I can also plan for unknowns as best possible at a point in time.

Typical photo crew argument – Which one is going to carry that heavy tripod back to the van? Photo by Mike Hartley

Sports Commentary

Hey hey hey, get your Cotton Candy here. I’ll be getting to the ballpark sometime in the next few series to catch the Baltimore Orioles. That is a special team they are building. Fun exciting baseball with young talent that is meshing together nicely and very quickly. Good manager who they stuck with as they rebuilt.

I’ll have to remember to pick up one of these for the granddaughter. Photo by Mike Hartley

Most preseason predictions had them in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Here they are in 1st place 101 games into the season. And my team, the Yankees in last place. That is OK, I expect they will make a charge yet. But it’s really nice to see this area excited again living right outside of Baltimore.

Only time will tell if this season turns into something special. This will be the 40th year since they have won a World Series title. There was a special young talent (Cal Ripkin) on that team, but there were a number of veterans also. Pitching seems to be a common thread with these two teams also.

This area would go insane if they won it this year.

Movie Review – Oppenheimer – First of all it’s a good movie to go see. Very well done and a good cast. But the story itself is the driver. For we are still dealing with the ramifications of this event today. And probably for man’s foreseeable future.

The age range in the theater was interesting. There might have been a few people in there that were alive when the atomic bomb was developed and used. There were also young teenagers in there. Actually, all age groups were represented. I thought I saw what might have been a 3 generation set of guys. One elderly grandfather, one guy just a bit younger than me, and what looked like his grown son.

I’m wondering if the young people knew the history and story before this. Maybe they saw the NBC documentary a short while back. I’m finding myself wondering what thoughts people have on this period and events in history.

Man has been developing weapons since the beginning of time. We just got very good at it and now can kill everyone if we so choose. Or if a few people choose which is unfortunately the reality of it all now.

It’s also a good example of science getting ahead of man’s ability to put the Jeannie back in the bottle. We might be looking at something similar today without realizing it. Could artificial intelligence be our next atom bomb?

It also reminded me that things need to be put in perspective because of timeframes. Decisions these scientists made were done when the world was at war. They were smart and knew they were working on a devastating weapon.

The ethical/morality issues along the way are handled interestingly in the film. As was what happens when the wrong people in governments are in charge. Also a good example of how revenge can go wrong and a number of other interesting lessons along the way.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Your editing the moment you look through the lens.
  • There are a few degrees between hot and uncomfortably hot.
  • I didn’t get out and photograph last night as I hoped. But I did get some much-needed rest.
  • Trust can create great things. Lack of trust destroys all.

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After Dark

For the next few evenings, I’m hoping to take advantage of what will be some warm summer nights to do some night shooting around the county. I’m not an expert at shooting in the dark but experience is a good teacher.

Chesapeake Bay after sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

I do have a lot of experience being out and about in the dark though having some pretty weird work schedules. I already know I’m going to try to shoot some of the roadwork going on Rt 29 at night. Then venture into Columbia and maybe Ellicott City to do some night lights. I’ve got a ton of ideas and some time to get to them.

Bridge support. Thank you for bringing us to the Eastern Shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll throw a few tripods in the car, fill the tank up, and cruise to various spots. I could also use some exercise so I’ll try to get some walking/hiking in. I’d like to get a few miles in on the treadmill when it’s raining this afternoon.

So here is to a very productive day ahead once I catch up on a little rest.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to find ways to reduce all the plastic we use.
  • There are some carvings I need to return to and finish.
  • I’ve made the mistake of worrying about something instead of doing something.
  • The cloudy morning matches my clouded mind. Hopefully, a few hours of sleep will clear it up.

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Other way guys

The fish are the other way guys. Right behind you, the Chesapeake Bay.

That grass doesn’t look too deep Fred. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another start to the workweek. Can’t wait till that phrase is in the rearview mirror. But then again I’d better be careful what I wish for with all the changes going on at the job that pays the bills. All I know is that I’m frustrated with the job. And that isn’t a good mindset. I’ll work on snapping out of that later.

But that is a small part of life and there is so much more to be thankful for. Waking up this morning is always a good start, even though it was earlier in the day than I had hoped for.

The first thing I did was go check on a baby bird I almost ran over with the riding mower yesterday. The thing moved just a second before it disappeared under the mower. I slammed on the brake and looked under and I was about an inch before hitting it with the mower deck. I backed up and turned it off.

I managed to get it to the garden because I think it had fallen from the next or tried to fly and failed. It didn’t seem hurt. The wings sometimes extended and it would occasionally hop. I never touched it but managed to put a small dish of water next to it. I saw it change spots a few times. And I saw the parents with another baby helping it to fly later in the day. I’m hoping the same happened for this one because he was gone this morning.

I guess nature took its course one way or another. I’ve almost hit turtles a few times but thankfully have seen them at the last seconds. I had a cottonmouth try to strike the mower once as I was cutting along the woods. Natures retribution. I’ll stop and move frogs and praying mantis when I see them.

We have a place up the street called Friskies that does wildlife rehabilitation. I’ve never had to take an animal there but I hear they do good work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m meeting with a financial planner because I hear fools and their money are soon parted.
  • A warm breeze is refreshing. A cold breeze incites cursing.
  • Trying not to forget to throw in some good events each day.
  • I just don’t get Mike Pence. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to offend the Maga base but he is going nowhere anyway so what is the purpose of running and not confronting Trump? Even if 45 is denied from running both sides agree on one thing. Pence is gutless.
  • Logic is in the eye of each person. Sometimes there is very little overlap between people.

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This weekend was

As the boat’s name says.

Near Kent Narrows. Photo by Mike Hartley

But as usually happens in life that is balanced with concern for a loved one. A very special one that is going through some tough times. So the concern never leaves my mind. The wishes for comfort and happiness were sent over the waves. The support emails and calls. But only time will make this better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you know what you want to do tomorrow?
  • And then there is what you want to do and what you can do.
  • Of course, there are unplanned interruptions and tasks to do that get in the way of what you want to do.
  • But if you don’t lose sight of what you want to do, other things are just interruptions.

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I raise you one bridge

Almost looks like one sitting on top of another. I just had a second to grab a shot as we were leaving the Owl Bar at Kent Narrows yesterday. I love when I get a few seconds to grab an image or two when out and about.

One of the major bottlenecks getting to the shore many years ago. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m always conscious about not holding up the group or being separated from them for more than a few seconds. Like this shot when they had to hit the restrooms I wandered to the end of the parking area to snap this and was back at the car when they were.

It feels good again to have my cameras in my hand.

I would like to edit and share some more images but the grass needs cutting and we have company coming later today so off I go.

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I spent Friday and Saturday with my two best friends—just us at my friend’s home on Kent Island. Lifelong friends of 4 and 5 decades. I can’t tell you how much we all appreciate that time and fun together. We sat on his front porch and watched the sunset over the bay directly over the Annapolis area from our angle on Friday evening. I’m not sure which I like more.

Any day on the water is a good day. Photo by Mike Hartley

We hit the Owl Bar and then Fishermans Inn at Kent Narrows for a great meal and drinks before the sunset. Lots of boats out this weekend and if you had one and weren’t out on the water shame on you.

I think the sun is thinking about going bowling. Photo by Mike Hartley

We shot some hoops, walked the beach, laughed at old stories and recent screwups, and shared thoughts about retirement and travel. Only one of us has a parent left alive, we discussed them as we always have through life. Of course the updates on our own children and their children now.

We hung a few Craftsman tool cabinets in his garage, fixed a breakfast fit for kings, and enjoyed some beverages throughout the day. It was a little rough on Saturday morning for Kayaking but we will get to that sometime in the future.

I was going to put it politely and say it was a very good time, but it was a F’ing great time. We rarely get to spend time together like that. All our schedules are packed. And while we get together every week for a few minutes usually it’s always wrapped around work and family obligations or our own chores.

So here is to keeping that great feeling rolling throughout the week. And as we all get closer to retirement spending days like that might get a lot more common.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A cool brisk morning in the middle of summer is a nice change of pace.
  • I’ve got a ton of work to fit into the next 24 hours.
  • Felt good to get a chance to do a little shooting this weekend.
  • I love when mother deer stomp the ground when they are protecting their young.
  • There is nothing better finishing off a weekend than a few hours with my children and getting a hug when they leave. It’s kind of like a coat of armor against the trials of the upcoming week for me.

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Friday Funday

I hope to incorporate a ton of shooting this weekend. The job that paid the bills throttled that effort for the early part of the week but I will not be denied now. Scheduled time with family and friends will fill out a great time in the next few days.

How to make your Postal worker happy. Photo by Mike Hartley

This has been a pretty good summer so far but as one of my best friends would say “It’s time to turn it up a notch” so here we go.

There are a lot of celebrations in June and July. The family vacation is during this period. Lots of fun indeed. But this coming month and next a few trips to the beach alone, not with family or friends. Not on anyone’s schedule but my own.

Not in a bulky SUV loaded to the brim. I’ll be traveling with the top down instead of the hardtop roof, the music of my choice on the stereo with a volume more to my liking. A change of clothes in the trunk (glove compartment) of the go-cart (Miata) a beach towel, my cameras, and a few dollars for food and drink.

A little under 3 hours to cruise each way. It was a little much on a motorcycle on some hot days but in a car it’s no problem. I’ll leave before sunrise. Maybe early enough to catch the sunrise at the ocean, but if not to see it coming up as I cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

A quick breakfast at Bad Monkey. I’ve been wanting to hit this stop because I heard it’s good and they have their own bakery. Then spend the morning shooting around town. Hit the beach for a few hours, shower and change, and do some more shooting. Hit the boardwalk for a few things for the family, do a little cruising (sorry it’s an old habit I never broke), head to Fagers Island for a light dinner, and watch the sunset on the bay from the deck or gazebo.

Then point the car back west and home. I’d like to do a few more trips and shoot Assitique Island, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick Island. So let me get planning when all this is going to take place otherwise another summer will get away from me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Isn’t anticipation great?
  • Work hard with the tools you have. Many have achieved greatness with very little.
  • I’ll drink water, but I’d rather have a Coke.
  • I think see food might be on the menu tonight. If I see food I’m going to eat it. At least a crabcake.

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Two the point

“Two the point” is what I thought of when I saw this shot below of the two roofs. Then again, I’m tired and punchy so it’s probably a bad pun.

At Boordy Vineyards. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another great day is upon us. One filled with new tests and challenges. I guess I was due for some more significant ones. Things had been going smoothly so life exerts its balance and throws a few wrenches. I’m also thinking about a loved one very much today.

Such beauty to just be smashed. Photo by Mike Hartley

I had a chance to grab just a few shots of the Boordy Vineyard while there for a birthday party. A very good place for an outside event and beautiful grounds. I’ll have to return to this area for some more photographs. I was so busy photographing family and children I didn’t get much of the place. I also heard some nice comments about the wine. I’m not a fan of the grape unless it says Nehi on the bottle.

Barrels and barrels of fun. Photo by Mike Hartley

I believe there are a few vineyards in the area of Hydes Maryland.

They had some good musicians there that day. On break, unfortunately. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I venture out locally and grab some shots in Howard County.

A treasure in Maryland I’ve missed before. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a 100% chance of being right that it is National something or another, day today.
  • The wheels of justice turn slowly. But turn they do. Or at least that is my hope.
  • I wonder if I can cram 3 days of work into one?
  • Hoping for peace of mind for someone very important.

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Saltwater 75

We were branching out this year and I’ve been watching the construction on Saltwater 75 since they took down the old BJ’s on the Water Restaurant in Ocean City. So I had to try them when they opened this year. And it was a great family experience.

Beautiful photos inside and out like this one on the exterior of the building facing the parking. Photo by Mike Hartley

Don’t let the pictures fool you, it did get crowded, we were there a bit after 4 pm because we had 2 young ones. I wish I had more time than to snap a few on my way in, but with large families, you move with them.

I love bayside restaurants with a view. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is one we will probably be putting on our regular stop list. The food and service was great. The decor and views were also great. The selection and prices should make many happy.

A fair amount of outside dining space also. Photo by Mike Hartley

I started off with one of the best Cesear Salads I’ve had anywhere. The main course was the McFaul Scallops – blackened dayboat scallops over succotash bacon hash and potato puree. Topped with jumbo lump crab and finished with tomato scampi butter. And yes it was great.

The Crew seemed well-trained and good at their task. Therefore a big tip was left. Photo by Mike Hartley

The cocktail and draft list satisfied my son and his better half.

Other hits were the Crabcake, the Salmon Teriyaki, and the 75 Caprese. The old man’s memory makes me forget the rest but everyone left happy.

I’ll have to venture to the upstairs seating on my next visit. Photo by Mike Hartley

My thoughts when I share food reviews. I will not post a review or one based on someone else if it’s a poor experience. I might share positive observations from friends, family that also match mine. Obviously, I also might not share a place in a list of ones I like because I haven’t been there. The number of people out there complaining about bad experiences already takes care of any need in that area so I don’t need to add to it. And sometimes people just don’t have a good day. That can happen in any industry.

And don’t forget the percentage of people who are never satisfied and are just, well you know.

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Start me up

I did my good deed yesterday. I’ll just say I was being neighborly. Now back to my own activities. I’ve got to find a power grid to plug into because this kid is beat and I got 3 straight days of long hours ahead. Then again I should look inward.

I’m finding that creative spark adds a lot of energy. I found positive thoughts can power me though a lot of time. I’ve always been aware of appreciation and that also makes the body and mind happy and sound.

Finding my lines of energy to tap into. Photo by Mike Hartley

Ah to be young again. I may be young in mind but the body reminds me those days have passed. That is ok because we make due and still am probably more active than most people my age. And I’m getting more active by the day. Before long I’ll be long jumping like the little one below.

Youth on the move. Fuzzy Photo by Mike Hartley

The day is filling up with obligations fast but I’m going to squeeze in a few minutes of fun and shooting I hope. And who knows, maybe another good deed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do a few things, then do a few more things.
  • Don’t just look around, make sure you are seeing.
  • I believe an early morning ride is in order.
  • The most dangerous thing about the times we live in is all the different realities people see.

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Floating Tiki bar

Whatever floats your boat can be found at the beach. I know I’ll be pointing my car east to Ocean City again soon. One of these sunny midweek days. Leaving before sunrise and returning well after sunset. Just a day alone in thought and with the cameras. A few hours on the beach after I wear my feet out walking the town. A couple of light meals, an ice cream soda, and then watch the sunset from a bay establishment.

The floating bar. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I was laying out on the deck today feeling the light breeze the only thing missing was the sound of waves and laughter of children. That sun was warm but felt great. It relaxes me and my racing mind slows to a comfortable leisurely pace when out there alone.

I haven’t picked up the camera as intended yet but have been a printing press for the family. I was surprised my daughter took all the photos I had of them. Usually, I overwhelm them with prints. I’m glad it will give them memories.

Riding the breeze into the weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I caught some rays, played with my granddaughter, had a snowball, and was able to help someone. It’s been a great day.
  • Last workday (night) of the week ahead. Life is good because the weekend is here again at 6 am tomorrow.
  • I’m sure there was a very good reason behind some of the madness in my life.
  • My granddaughter found a picture of a rose my mother had taken. I liked the way she admired it intently and asked if she could have it. Of course, I said yes and told her who took it.

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Timing is important. I know because I didn’t get the lightning shot I was hoping for below. I know because I’ve missed many shots because of poor timing over the decades. It takes time to get the timing down.

I’m using the tripod more for that heavy Nikon and zoom which makes it more comfortable. And that will come in handy now that we got some warm summer evenings ahead, I’ll be doing some night shooting.

The weather was ready to rock. From OC looking west. Photo by Mike Hartley

A while back the interface connection on the Nikon to the computer broke. I was bummed because having to send it off to Nikon and the shipping and repair was going to set me back. Then I thought, why not just read the card? The reader device came in today and it works fine and dandy. We are in production again. Not as convenient but workable.

I think it’s funny that time is going to come to an end for another one of my cameras. An old digital Kodak Z812iS which I purchased in 2007. A true workhorse, but when I went to set the date again after charging the battery, I noticed the year stops at 2025. So if I take pictures with it after that it will be as if time had stopped.

I’m trying to get my timing down so I can possibly get 2 posts a day completed.

But first I have to spend some time shooting today. It’s a top priority.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Each time I challenge myself I surprise myself.
  • I’m tapping my energy reserves way too early in the week.
  • There is rest and there are naps.
  • I’ve made a ton of prints from the family vacation. I’d love to bore you all with them but my children are private and I don’t blame them.
  • It’s going to be a hot one today. Oh yeah, I love it. Put the top down and take an hour’s cruise later.

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Knock out the difficult tasks early, and the rest of the day is a cakewalk. The fewer things I move around my to-do list, the better I’m doing. I’m trying to do more things that I’m not sure if they will work or not. But it helps to move my boundaries.

After being off for a while and living a normal schedule, flipping back to a night shift is physically and mentally rough the first night or two. And then it gets really difficult.

This was at the entrance of our condo we stayed at in Ocean City Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Making progress breeds more progress. Change things up. Rearrange the office. For instance, I have been in a rut making a number of 4×6 prints. I saw a couple I liked and a couple more and I’ve made many 8x10s in the last 24 hours. My kids are going to need a bigger house with lots of wall space. I’m running out of it here.

We tipped very well this past week while on vacation. Every place we went did a great job and I appreciate that service. I also saw people on very good behavior for one of the most crowded weeks of the year at the ocean.

One thing that again caught my eye was the trash. This town and community take pride in keeping this place as clean as possible but for some unknown reason, some of us are just PIGS. Come on people, don’t litter no matter where you are.

A blog on unique homes in Delmarva gave the following description of what I finally photographed below. –

This home on 78th Street in Ocean City is unique because of the observatory on the roof, added by the owner of the property in the late 1980s. At that time, a 16-foot-long refractor telescope with a 12-inch lens was installed, which was then one of the largest privately owned telescopes in the country. 

As I was walking some bayside streets near our stay I observed an observatory. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Mmmmm – grilled corn.
  • Painting a new picture to progress.
  • Instead of trying to find the path to success, forge your own.
  • Hopefully a less costly solution to a big problem with take place tomorrow.
  • Time for another overnight shift.



Do I miss the vacation breakfast, you bet I do. We began the first day by stopping at a favorite across the bridge called the Easton Diner. Great food, great service, old-time feel. Many booths and tables are available in addition to counter service.

I used to stop at a local place called the Forest Diner on Rt 40 in Ellicott City with my son after we had haircuts together. Whoops, I’m reminiscing, but that’s what us old guys do.

Anyway, this is one of our go-to for the morning meal on the way to the beach. Pass up Cracker Barrel and Panara hit the da Diner.

The counter at the Easton Diner. Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, the next one has been a family favorite for years and that is Happy Jacks Pancake House. We had to stop by for breakfast and pay our respects to the staff for the loss of their owner. As always great service and food.

Another favorite but you really got to get there early or be very patient is Barn 34. I love their food. Nice atmosphere also.

But old and faithful and GOOD also is a place that has staying power like Laytons on 16th.

OK, I didn’t get out of town without a doughnut from the Fractured Prune.

This morning I’m back to work. So the nut bar and a bottle of water will take the place of the omelets and pancakes and waffles and bacon and sausage and home fries and fresh fruit. When I retire breakfast is going to be a ritual of good food.

Time for some sleep, been up for over 24 hours. Catch you all later today.

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Remember and wonder

This morning I find myself thinking of what my father would think of my family now. Or what I’ve done in my career. And how I took care of mom and my sister after he was gone. Maybe the friends I have or the home I live in. Maybe his feeling about me not following his footsteps into the Navy.

I wonder a lot about what his perspective would have been to those and many more things in life.

The early years. Photo by Mike Hartley

He passed this day many decades ago. It’s one of those days that gets etched permanently in ones mind as a youth. It’s painful, it’s like a reel of film from that moment to his burial. The images and words and memories associated with that event are easily replayed today as if it were then.

I’m going to spend some time in his old slide cabinets of his time at sea and different stations. There are also some letters and other papers of his. I’m finally going to put that on the agenda to sort through this year and hopefully get some more history and feeling of the man and make sure my family has that as well as the memories of my mom going forward. It’s good to document.

I loved walking to the beach before sunrise. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I miss the sand in my toes already.
  • If I’m not mistaken my mindset has changed a bit.
  • The camera is clicking again.
  • Feels great to get a good start on the day.
  • The storms be coming. Hunker down Marylanders.


Just peachy

Peaches from Wright’s Market. One of our favorite stops on the way home from Ocean City. We also picked up corn, preserves, nuts, dressing, and a few other things that will leap to mind later. It’s loaded with good things.

It was a wonderful drive home from the shore and only minimal backup before the Bay Bridge.

Thank you, farmers. Photo by Mike Hartley


A wonderful week of vacation at the beach with the family was good for my soul, my tan, my spirit, my appreciation, my taste buds, my need to be a fish, and a few photos.

Forgot the lens tissue this morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

But most of all to be a father and grandfather for some dedicated time. To share my good fortune and love. To get beat the first time and of many more to come at miniature golf by my granddaughter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s difficult to work at an unfamiliar desk.
  • I thought my old John Deere was going to give up the ghost today but it recovered and the property is looking good again.
  • I love being away. I also love being back home.

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Back to work

While on vacation the negative things that affect me during the normal workweek seem to disappear quickly. All of a sudden regular and restful sleeping patterns return. The mind is not filled with the chaos of running from one task to the next. My eating habits improve and I’m able to fit in some regular exercise.

In other words, I’m probably going to be much healthier when I leave the job. But why wait? I can’t change my hours but I can certainly keep the exercise going and try to eat better. As far as easing the chaos of the job that is also somewhat in my control. I have sick time that I never take. Some twisted logic of mine from the old days says you don’t get sick.

That peaceful easy feeling. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s getting very difficult to think about continuing to work for someone else when all I want to do is concentrate and work on what I want to do. And while the sun is setting on this vacation I can’t help but think about my permanent one coming next year.

But tomorrow the return to the regular grind returns but I hope to put a different spin on my remaining days at the job that pays the bills.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nature is the best color palette.
  • Already planning for the next vacation.
  • I’m finally convinced the U.S. is going further down the rabbit hole before it starts to recover. But at that point, it might be too late.
  • Times change, families change, friends change. It’s nice when they can change well together but that always isn’t the case.

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Beach town

One of my many favorite towns in Maryland is Ocean City. I love it for many reasons. From coming here as a child to playing with my grandchildren on the beach this year. My favorite month is September when the water is still warm but the crowds have cleared out and streets and beaches aren’t packed.

We tend to do a week in the summer with the family but spring and fall are wonderful also. The town used to close up after the summer season pretty much but things are staying open much longer now before and after the summer season.

Always a nice sight pulling into town. Photo by Mike Hartley

I know a ton of people don’t like it. I’m kind of glad those who don’t like it don’t come. I’m into positive waves during the summer, not negative ones. But apparently, a lot more do love it because it’s always packed during the summers and even into the off-season. We have met some wonderful people who are year-round residents.

I love eating down de ocean. The food here is great. So many different styles and of course fresh Maryland blue crabs. Some of my favorite ice cream shops like Dumsers. The things for the kids to do is endless. From shops, the boardwalk, amusement parks, and games.

I love the beach, it calls me all year long. But the pool is also a nice change of pace and being I don’t have one any longer it’s a real treat to swim in one again.

But it’s the dedicated time with family that really counts in my book. Be it playing a game together or a daily walk and meals in addition to the beach and pool time. Seeing the smiles. Hearing the laughter. Watching kids discover or be amazed or just jump for joy when they are playing miniature golf.

It’s a wonderful place in my life and I hope I have many more days with family in the coming years to enjoy it again.

3 generations of my family. I’ve been talking about weight loss a bit recently. I finally saw a picture of myself and I’m no longer looking pregnant. Photo by my Daughter in Law. Thank you.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I never joined Twitter and ever since Musk purchased it I certainly would never consider it now. I’m no fan of Zuckerberg either but I might give this Threads a try just to see what those apps are about. Probably a time waster and if so I’ll quickly jettison it but trying to live and learn as I go.
  • I have a taste for pizza tonight.
  • People who have no interest in the truth are not people I want to be around.

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Not good

This haze and unhealthy air quality are issues today. The smoke from those Canadian wildfires makes its presence known here in Maryland. I did find a government site that tracks air quality by state. My condolences to those with respiratory issues. I’m not in the best shape in that area but I can make due.

Ran a few errands today and was outside for a little bit but my eyes started to itch. The smoke wasn’t as low as the below photo, but it was obscuring distant treelines pretty well. I hope it blows away soon, I’d like to spend some time outside this weekend.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wearing a smile is a lot easier than the alternatives. A lot more attractive also.
  • I’m pumped because I get to celebrate this coming holiday.
  • I give Quest Labs in Ellicott City my highest rating for ease of use, and great staff that are experts at blood draws. You might think this isn’t so special until you hit someone inexperienced at your doctor’s office and have multiple holes in your arms and hands.
  • After today’s decision by the SCOTUS, we can move forward and make things better than it was or go backward and create more inequities in our country. We can recover from this. The universities themselves could have positive solutions. Then again greed, money, and discrimination might get in the way again.

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I’d like a ruem, please

When I saw this shot I thought of the old Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers and therefore the title of this post. “I’d like a ruem, please.”

Gaylord National National Harbor Resort. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry, I’ve been using some older shots the last few days. Just haven’t felt that good and between work and personal obligations time is always short. But I’m starting to feel a little better today and hopefully, that will be the trend the next several days as I get back on the wheel of life.

National Harbor. Photo by Mike Hartley

I see the next 7 days look like rain. I hope it comes slowly because the ground is rock-hard from being so dry. And we all know that weather forecasters can’t rarely predict with much accuracy beyond a day or two so I hope they got this forecast wrong also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I used to take orders from my job and my better half. Now I take orders from my children and grandchildren.
  • It’s a good day when you say it is.
  • Even though this blog might not show reflect it, I’ve been very productive the last few weeks.
  • My thoughts are consumed by someone very special to me.

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Soaring through the weekend and into the workweek later today. In some ways they are starting to blend for I’m no longer years away from retirement we are measuring in months now if all goes well.

I still give the job and honest days work but my heart and mind are on my hopes and desires in retirement. Time to develop my crafts, time to read, time to play or relax, time to sleep if I choose, time to exercise and improve my mental health, and many other things that just fall by the wayside with the blizzard of work that the job that pays the bills expects.

I started to get out of the high-pressure work about 9 years ago when I went to a position where I wasn’t on-call anymore. Well, for the most part, I still get an occasional call but nothing like past years where I couldn’t be more than a few minutes from my computer. I also cut my hours way back. From the weeks of 60-70 hours to an under 50 average.

I still find work challenging and take pride in it. Otherwise, I’d probably go insane if it were anything else. I have a project or two that keeps me busy in between the other emergencies, issues, and tasks of the night. So I’ll finish strong and then move on to greener pastures. With a touch of grey in the beard.

In Maryland We Are

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think I’ll grill out today.
  • Soon as I publish a post, I start a new one.
  • I love this time of year when the sun is in the sky the longest.
  • As I work this coming Monday holiday I revel in the thought that it’s not going to be my problem in the future.
  • I wonder if my back is up to moving and splitting a cord of wood.

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Shore enough

It’s that time of year to head east to the waters of the Atlantic. I can understand why so many have spots there and eventually move there. It draws me like a magnet and talks to me when I’m not there. The sounds of the waves hitting shore plays like this loop in the back of my head.

My footprints will soon dot this beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

My heart longs to look out over that great body of water.

You need to make a right turn. Photo by Mike Hartley

And what do you associate with the shores of Eastern Maryland? Crabs of course. Well today I had a crabcake from a well known Baltimore establishment (Pappas Restaurant and Sports Bar) in Parkville. My first time there and it was great food and service.

Took my Son who is a first time father there along with his son. So 3 generations at the table. Really good crabcakes and meal. The Santa Fee egg rolls were also very tasty.

I know, I took my camera in but when I saw that platter of food in her hand I picked up my fork and my mind went on autopilot till the plate was clean. I’ll get photos next visit because we will be back.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find few things as enjoyable as making young children laugh and smile.
  • Try a new perspective. It leads to understanding
  • I’ve been blessed with two special children of my own. They keep getting more special all the time.
  • The less time I can spend on the Beltway in Baltimore or Washington the better.

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Let sleeping dogs lie

We knocked these two out, this weekend. They hung with us for 3 days but Sunday afternoon they crashed hard. We work hard and we play hard. And then we sleep. Well some of us sleep. I’m not so lucky in that regard. Like this morning after 3 hours of sleep and the job calls again. I tell you I won’t miss those calls in the future.

These two finally hit the wall on the last day of the past weekend with the boys.

But it’s been a fairly good day and I’m looking forward to another weekend and a chance to do some shooting each day.

I love bodies of water and our Chesapeake Bay is a beautiful one. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a lot to be said for silence.
  • Congrats to the Denver Nuggets, NBA Champs. The best team won it all this year.
  • I don’t mind going to a hospital as long as I’m just visiting.
  • Enjoyed the Yankees win tonight.
  • Whoever told me I would know when the time is right. They were right.

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Sunday Coasting

Coasting later today, but a full slate of activities is ahead. A slow start for some of my weekend compadres but that was expected. There is only one other early riser in the team and he made the call but is still taking on coffee.

Cruise Control. Photo by Mike Hartley

We have eaten like kings, laughed like we were in a comedy club, and even managed a little exercise. Today we finish up and return to the reality of work tomorrow. Not often do I treat myself to a weekend like this.

But it’s the type of activity that I hope to incorporate into my summer routine this year. To get out and enjoy the state and the wonderful family and friends at the same time.

In the morning before dawn, we see two freighters trying to disguise themselves in the Chesapeake Bay.

What a beautiful weekend! Photo by Mike Hartley

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Cast your line

Good morning and welcome to Friday. Yes, I’m starting my time off early but that was planned in advance. I’m casting my line this day and hoping to catch a great weekend ahead.

But in a lot of ways I’ve already had the best catches of my life. My better half, my children, my grandchildren, great friends loving pets, and the health and knowledge to appreciate those wonderful gifts.

The early fisherman gets the good catch. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope that you all have some precious gifts that you can celebrate this weekend with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is always a way.
  • The troops are being assembled. Provisions have been procured. Everyone’s work schedule has been cleared. The game plan has been laid out. It’s almost launch time.
  • A weekend-long concert of tunes and laughter is on the agenda and I’m giddy with excitement.
  • I can only imagine. Till I actually create something.
  • Most of the relationships I have are lifelong. That is a really nice thing to be blessed with.

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Tuesday Teeth

I don’t know why I used that title. It was a small part of my day this morning. A cavity and chipped tooth were repaired by my longtime dentist and neighbor and friend Dr. Bowman. I love their office and most of all, their work. Anyway, I’m good to go again and the original choppers are still intact. I sense a steak in my future.

Today was my nephew’s birthday. He was the first grandchild in my parent’s family. He made me an uncle for the first time. He faced incredible medical challenges as a youth for years and survived and thrived. The loss of his father hurt him badly for years. Michael passed suddenly and unexpectedly last July and I still can’t imagine the pain in my sister’s heart losing her son. I see it once in a while through her tears, but I know that there is so much more pain that she bares deep inside.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today is not one of high spirits, but one of reflection. One that reinforces to make the best of each day. To evaluate and concentrate and act on what is important like relationships. I can see it with my closest friends for some time now. Anytime we gather it’s been a special occasion. No not some event, just recognizing that any time together is special each and every time we gather be it for a pizza and a drink or a concert or time laughing and creating more memories.

I feel it with my better half. I guess this is something in your senior years that becomes more acute. Appreciation for each day and all the special relationships.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you end the day excited and in anticipation of tomorrow, you’re living.
  • The PGA and LIV. The death of the professional sport of Golf. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the game even though I’ve only played very little. And I’ll continue to play a bit but I’ll never watch pro golf again. Of course, they are far from the first company to sell their sole to foreign money. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, it’s greed.
  • For most people, being a healthy weight is their own choice.
  • Doesn’t anyone wash their own car anymore?

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What a precious commodity. I saw today we are in the moderate drought zone at this time here in mid-Maryland. It has been a bit dry and we haven’t had any real heat yet. I believe we will regret one day being so wasteful with this precious resource.

Don’t forget to keep our 4 legged friends hydrated also. Photo by Mike Hartley

So what kind of chaos can we get into today? Middle of the workweek so can’t get too wild. Actually, a ton of obligations will keep me more than busy today. Some errands and appointments, some home chores, paperwork, and some work for the job that pays the bills.

That doesn’t sound like fun with my hobbies or friends or family. Such is life. Commitments, caring for those who need you at the time, and taking care of business. All part of survival and flourishing.

Both this shot and the one above from Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll end this quick post with the thought that the Blues Brothers sang about. “Everybody needs someone to Love

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s just starting to get to the right temperature and my better half thinks it’s too hot already. So the battle of the thermostat begins anew.
  • A series is on now between Miami and Denver.
  • Mother Nature lured me into the thought that I was winning.
  • I’m really looking forward to a lot of reading when I retire. Trying to start now but time is so limited.

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Change of thought

Aspirations are a good thing. In my 50s I thought that I wanted to become a professional photographer in my senior years and have that as my second career. Now that I’m a senior by someone’s definition and I still love and have a passion for shooting, but the desire to do it as a business or even worry about the title of professional is irrelevant.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I shoot because I like it and it makes me happy. I sometimes make other friends and family happy with them. I share them here and will be on my photo site once I get a few thousand more images uploaded and might be able to register with someone who I might not know yet.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I learned a long time ago when I started blogging that it’s not the numbers that matter to me. It’s the people like my daughter who said she read a post or two and liked the pictures or random thoughts once in a while. Or maybe someone I never met continuing to follow my ramblings and images week after week. It’s the feeling I get of possibly doing something I’m really pleased with. Be it a photo or thought or piece of artwork.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

The joy is in doing the work and seeing something come together. Getting back from a shoot and the anticipation of something unique. Seeing a carving take shape. Learning how to write. All fun things.

I just wish I had more time to devote to the effort. A few minutes a day here and there is tough but if I didn’t love it I would have become frustrated and stopped long ago. Just like this blog, it’s a shell of what I hope to do in another year from now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if AI ran across my writings if it would crash the system.
  • There are few better feelings than when an infant grandchild wakes and you get the chance to lift him out of bed and he smiles at me.
  • I had to laugh at this article about (Woke and Chick-fil-A)
  • I don’t know what I would do if they ever wanted me to return to the office to work. Well on second thought, I know what I would do.
  • This has been a glorious weekend, but work beckons and the nocturnal life begins.

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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.