THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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A reckoning

One of the things the pandemic brought out was how many jobs that are so difficult, yet are so poorly paid and or appreciated. It’s also caused a reckoning in the people themselves that work those jobs. And a lot of them have evaluated them and said no more.

Sunset Folly Quarter Road Photo by Mike Hartley

The new entitlement and freedom and just flip attitudes make working in any public-facing job a nightmare. I really feel for those people and try hard to treat everyone with respect. I’m constantly surprised at the strength of some individuals taking the abuse. No job would prevent me from taking action if I was on the receiving end.

And yes I know I don’t have the patience for those situations therefore I work in an environment where there is a code of conduct and you don’t even think of approaching any of the behaviors seen in public. It’s only a matter of time before people start taking action because some individuals can be so disruptive that it puts everyone on the edge of the action.

It’s already happened on a number of flights where passengers are either becoming directly responsible for restraining others or part of the team that does. And really we all might be put in this position it seems because the trend is not good and it’s moving fast.

Folly Quarter Road in the fall. Photo by Mike Hartley

And this isn’t going away. Service and the supply chain could get worse. Lots of people are retiring and the recent two years have only accelerated that process for many. Some of those jobs don’t have skilled people waiting. Things like trucking, tradesmen, and other heavy industries. Also healthcare, teaching and Let alone the service industries. Everyone has already noticed it or encounters it daily. Lines are longer if you can get what you need in the first place.

Again it’s another test of how we will respond together. Maybe we can start making some more things here in this country. Maybe we can try to maintain our civility. Maybe we can show our children that we can in difficult times find our way again.

I’ll start by working on my own patience. And to promote calm I’ll add a few images with this rather downer rant.

Looking north on Folly Quarter Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Evening

  • Feels good to surpase a goal I set myself earlier today.
  • I love my Son’s dogs dearly. And I enjoyed the hell out of watching them the last few days. But I would need a fenced in yard because I don’t like cold, or wet. Of course the exercise walking them was good for us. And I won’t forget their love.
  • It can’t be another work week looking me in the face.
  • It’s ok to like your own work. Just don’t get too attached to what you have done or you limit what you can do.

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After a day of hard work yesterday, I thought about relaxing a bit. Relaxing is one of many things that I don’t do well. I don’t sit still much unless I’m hurting or spent physically.

I can’t spend a day or even a few hours in my hammock. I love it and it’s comfortable on my back and I love looking at the sky. I just can’t lay motionless without my mind telling me to get up and get my behind in gear.

Life is short, enjoy the view Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe this will change when my time constraints become less restrictive. 45-50 hours a week is a lot of time to get back each week. I hear the hours go quickly when you get to retirement. I’m sure some will be taken up with grandchildren. But that amount of time free seems like a fantasy.

Vacations can sometimes give a short peek into the window, but rarely even then. I think once a decade or two ago I took off 2 weeks in a row and it was the strangest feeling of finally letting my mind unwind. I’ll adapt and hopefully make good use of the time.

Anyway, I hope to incorporate a better mixture of relaxing and tasks today.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I wish my backyard subscribed to the theroy that if you cut it less the grass will keep the weeds down.
  • Overcast days aren’t all that bad. It could be overcast and wet.
  • Learning to be at peace with oneself is a lifetime job.
  • There are things I should do today and then there are the things I’m going to do.
  • Secret to a long happy life. When you look next to you and see the most beautiful person in the world and they are also your best friend.

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Music powered

I’m going to use the music to provide some extra motivation today. I hope to crank out about 100 prints of a project that is well underway but needs a midway edit and review. Then as the sun rises and the yard dries, I’ll turn into Landscape Man and don my super work shoes (very old sneakers) and work shorts, a hat, and work on my tan while cutting, chopping, raking, shoveling, and sweating.

Start Me Up says the Stones. Photo by Mike Hartley

That is okay though, hard work does a body good. It does a mind good sometimes also. I love the riding mower, too much noise, and dirt to have a phone with me so I’m completely untethered and I’m off the grid. I can let my mind wander, I can lean back and soak up the rays, I can close my eyes and see if I can keep a straight line (difficult with some bumpy spots in my yard), I can watch my granddaughter waving as I complete each lap from her spot on the porch.

I finish that and grab the push mower for another hour of hill climbs in the backyard. That becomes a physical contest. It does keep my calves and thighs in shape. Finally, the string trimmer comes out and aggression is released. Then the relaxing hum of the leaf blower for a while to make things look finished.

That’s the good thing about physical work, you can always see your results. One thing about the professional job I always enjoyed and was a part of for some of my careers was having newspapers come off the press. It was when a lot of hard work came together in a physical product. Those days are numbered and many will never experience the joy of printing and publishing in the old ways.

Someone told me there is such a thing as remote-controlled mowers now. And when I looked it up there have been many over the last 5+ years. Geez, I must be getting old, I’m not keeping up with this stuff. Anyway, it won’t be of use to me. I like the physical part of it now and I hope it and other exercise keeps me young for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Dogs have a ton of love to share, and they need a lot of it in return.
  • It’s not even 9am and I have a craving for pizza.
  • I don’t have a photographic memory – therefore I take pictures.
  • In the world of tractors one is the James Bond of the group. Deere, John Deere.

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Stormy Monday

Listening to Stormy Monday live by the Allman Brothers band on what is a stormy Monday. Well not too bad really but someone around me is getting hammered. Nice start to the day it is. Then again my day has been packed full from the time I got up till now and I still have a night of work ahead. No problem, been knocking it out of the park for years.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

So on this stormy Monday, just like the song, my tone and spirits are getting better as the day progresses. I’m not going to let weather dampen my sprits this week.

I saw a friends new office this weekend and commented on how much I like the rising desk he has. He said standing was a better position for him but the desk also allowed him to sit with a switch. I thought about it for a while. And then I got home and sat at my fathers desk, a little small, fixed height, no electronics and I’m comfortable. So I’ll keep this for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My neighbors son just finished his first year in Major League Baseball and he seems as grounded as ever. He was out working on his own car today after the season ended. Nice work parents.
  • Felt like I was doing a better job at finishing last week. And that feels good so I’m trying to keep the roll going. Just like the beat on Hot Lanta by the Allman Brothers.
  • The kids sent me pictures of their weekend. So I made prints. They know how to keep me happy and busy.
  • When you can still say “what a relaxing weekend” after working Monday you know it was a good one.

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Morning morning

Sundays are always unique for me. It’s the transition day from a normal everyday person to a nocturnal beast. Normal Sunday morning starts between 5-7 am. A wonderful day with my better half or family or knocking out chores or all 3. Sometimes some friends and football when it gets much colder.

But after a wonderful Sunday dinner, my workweek begins 7 pm and that ends at 6 am on Monday which is bedtime for me. So that is why I say Morning Morning on Sundays because I just combine the two into one and flip the switch.

Yeah, it’s kind of nuts but the time of that nonsense will soon pass. Lots of people do what they have to and this is a lot simpler than most.

Last night’s Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

The days of stepping outside in the morning in shorts have come to a close unless you like shivering. We still have some comfortable daytime temps to enjoy but when that sun goes down now the chill is already in the air.

Yesterday we got to enjoy small-town Maryland at Stevensville. Their art/craft festival was in full swing in the afternoon. My best friend made a donation to the local dance team, the food trucks got some of our business but the bakery Peace of Cake hit the home run. I should have hit the ice cream shop because we heard it was good but that leaves me something to try next visit.

That and the company shared the rest of the day made it a great Saturday. I’ll just keep thinking of it while I have that shovel in hand today.

I’ll get busy solving the problems of the world later today between plays in the Ravens game.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • It’s hard to feel good about a week where the weather forecasters have rain symbols for Monday through Friday.
  • We didn’t hit the powerball so everyone back to work tomorrow.
  • Many will work on overcoming pain today.
  • I really like my Cannon printer.
  • Looks like a good week to practice wet weather photography.

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Entertainment Nextdoor

There is a website called Nextdoor. My better half suggested I check it out so I have. It’s not too bad, kind of an online neighborhood for your area, fills a lot of needs, and helps connect people which is always (mostly) a good thing. For the most part, it’s a pretty civil site also but you know it only takes one or two to create a tsunami of conflict.

Actually quite entertaining even though that isn’t its intended purpose, but I do find a ton of humor in it. And below is a sampling of the questions I have found humorous.

You have to join to see all the people participating in your area, but once you’re on it’s good for a chuckle a day. And who knows, you might also find some useful advice and meet some of the people in your neighborhood if you don’t get out much.

Most popular questions:

  • What type of snake is this?
  • Does anyone know who this is knocking at my door video?
  • What type of spider is this?
  • Does anyone know why this road is blocked?
  • What bent my bird feeder?
  • Where should I eat out tonight?
  • Is your power out also?
  • Where can I take these kittens I found in a box?
  • What type of tree is this?
  • Can someone help me find my (keys, wallet, phone, car, wife, groceries)?
  • How loud are the cicadas today? Are the cicadas getting louder?
  • Does anyone want this old furniture?
  • How badly do the cicadas smell? Is the dead and decaying cicadas smell getting worse.
  • What are the noise ordinace hours in our county?
  • Someone’s dog pooped on “my sidewalk, my yard, my neighborhood, my city.”
  • Did someone “hear a loud noise, and explosion or bomb?”
  • Have you seen my cat, dog, cow, zebra, rabbit, bear?
  • Can I shoot a solisiter?
  • Where is this or that food truck going to be today?
  • Can someone recommend a (every type of craftsman known to man)?
  • What type of bug is this?
  • Did we have an earthquake?
  • Can someone go shopping for me?
  • Is there really a bear roaming our area?
  • Can you believe someone parked this way?
  • Is there a girlfriend out there for my husky (dog)?
  • Does anyone have any spare boxes?
  • Who is this walking down the street playing the bagpipes? Yes its true.
  • How do I keep the deer from eating everything in my yard?
  • Did anyone see who (scratched, hit, totaled my car) when it was parked at this store?
  • Have you seen this mailbox? Who destroyed my mailbox? Who parked in front of my mailbox?
  • What happened to this and that business (that has been gone for a year)?
  • Why is that helicopter flying overhead? (Maybe a Goodfellas halucinantion)
  • Does anyone know who this abandoned (boat, RV, jetski) belongs to?
  • Who’s standing on my corner in a hoodie? Someone call the police.
  • Wear bright colors, its deer season soon.

I could go on but that would take out the enjoyment you might find in it. And if you thought the questions people raise are funny spend some time with the answers.

Flags at attention today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This is the time of the year my brain flips the swithch and says “BEWARE its colder outside than it looks.”
  • There is no day like today.
  • A lucky man sits and reflects what a lucky family he has and how proud he is of them. And then they go about impressing him (me) more every day.
  • I’ve really got to get back to work in the yard. So you all have a good day.

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Starting and finishing

I’ve started way too many posts and not finished them. Well some of them may be better off unfinished but out of the 300-400 drafts I have I should go ahead and finish a few of them. Then again the freshness of a blank page is always a clean start and more attractive. Sort of like the grass is greener on the other side sort of thing.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve got a dozen carvings started and photo projects galore to complete. Life, health, and the job that pays the bills so often interfere with the progress of these efforts. But today is the last night for the main job and I’m already excited. Usually, I start the music going on Thursday morning but I launched a day early. It’s funny how such a simple thing as listening to a few favorite songs while doing a post or email brightens up the day and tone.

I get so busy somedays and so focused that listening to music doesn’t make it to the top 5. And you know what, I regret that. I didn’t realize that by commuting to work, I used to listen to a lot more music. So I’m restoring the balance and sitting here with the shoulders rocking back and forth. I’m a pretty good typist even with motions. Like Billy Powell on the keyboards.

So I’m going to go dance around the house to the beat for a few more minutes before responsibilities take over again.

Rock On. Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place filled with wonderous headstones, landscaping, rolling hills, and historic memorials. But none of those things touch the quality of the men and women under it all. This is one of the projects I’m working on now. I’ve been photographing there for years now. Not every time I go to visit but some days. I hope to get some prints made from those shoots to sort through for the best so far by the end of the weekend.

I want my children to get what I get from visiting my parents who are no longer with us when it’s my time. I get a sense of calm after a visit that things are OK. That I’ll try to make them proud as if they were here and stopping boy tomorrow. I get the feeling they are just as happy that I stopped by to talk as they were when they were here. I just don’t get the kiss and hug when I leave.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When I run across and old musical favorite that I haven’t heard in a while it just feels so good to hear it again.
  • Some things just aren’t that important. Sorting them out from the ones that are, is very important.
  • I saw a post by someone I grew up with. He said patriotic Americans watch Fox News. Which kind of implied to me that if I didn’t I wasn’t. Funny the guards at the gate don’t ask if I watch Fox when I enter Arlington National Cemetery
  • I’m feeling better about using each day better.
  • The less people I talk to, the less disagreements I have.

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Missing out

I didn’t spend as much time as I had hoped for at the beach this year. I’ve got one short trip planned, and I still have a few weeks where I can try to add a day or two. So I should start planning something or the schedule will fill up and I’ll be cursing myself for not following through.

I love the beach so much I’ve thought about having my ashes spread there. At least a little of them. I just thought of a goal I need to add to my remaining years. I think I’ll try to spend more days at the beach than the previous year each year.

Flip and Flop Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll get a chance to practice some family photography today when they come over for a cookout. I think I’ll spend the early morning doing some local shooting and if I can get my behind in gear I’d like to try some more night shooting.

But this afternoon when I’m finished grilling and serving and socializing and playing with the kids and dogs. I’ll slide into one of these two chairs with a cold drink, a plate of food, sit back and watch family. But I’ll be wishing that I was still on my feet serving and getting whatever our parents needed. I’ll probably look around where they used to sit. I’ll miss the compliments they threw at the chef. And I’ll miss watching them play and talk to their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I’ll miss my conversations with them and the hello and goodbye hugs.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more people you know that you can trust, the richer you are.
  • All missing people are important. Which begs the question why don’t we spend more time than just the sensational stories on it?
  • Only the best think they could have done better while the also rans think they were the best.
  • A snake in the grass is fine as long as you don’t think it’s a stick.
  • I work at what used to be called an honorable profession.

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Mid-afternoon morning

When you work an overnight shift the morning sometimes falls in the mid-afternoon. Usually, mine is around noon but if I’m getting a good night’s rest it runs into mid-afternoon. And when you have such a drastically different schedule than others meal cycles just merge.

Mornings are cool. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have no distinction in eating any food at any time of the day. More than half the week I’m having dinner for breakfast because my better half is having dinner for dinner. And it just gets weirder from there. I can eat anytime day or night and there is no rule on what can be had at any of those hours.

The body’s ability to adapt amazes me. I get together with a few of my best friends each week. We like to grill out. I’ve gotten up, showered, dressed grabbed a Coke and met them on the deck, and grilled some massive steaks. Yeah, steak for breakfast. I might have easily just had a bowl of frosted flakes at that same time if I hadn’t met up with them.

Working odd shifts you will probably find a lot of people who feel this way. I know some people who work nights, stay up till early afternoon, then sleep and get up in the evening. Your internal clock only operates on days. Some days I’ll step out for lunch and it’s sunny. Sometimes I step out for lunch and look at the moon high in the sky at 1 am. All in the same week.

I’ve always been kind of a night owl and worked more than a few night shifts over my career. I love the stillness of night while at the same time if your up you can also see a bustle of activity that goes on every evening under the guise of darkness while most of you sleep. Once I get some time I’ll document this life and activity more.

Sometimes when I’m troubled my thoughts go to a day when I was 9 and troubled. It was winter and very late at night and I just wandered out back in about a foot of snow. I stood for a minute and then just fell back into the snow. I remember the comfort of the landing and just laying still for a moment. My arms were out to my side slightly and my legs apart. I remember smiling and just making a snow angel with them and then just laying still. I laid there looking at the stars and snow on the branches of the trees, the quiet and stillness of everything.

The reason I remember this is because that it was the few minutes in several months after my Dad passed that I felt at peace, that things might be ok, that I could get up and make it. And through my life at various points that memory and calm come back to me at important times.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The air always feels so clean after a hard rain. I love going out after and just breathing deeply.
  • Pain doesn’t fight fair. Its hard to take a clean swing at it.
  • If I ever lived alone the secret to a clean house would be – Have company over often.
  • I’m not sure if social media highlights the low percentage of very disgruntled people or that there really is a much higher percentage of very unhappy people on earth than I thought.
  • I had to smile at the new level of cluelessness that arrose this morning. At least I laugh about it now instead of being frustrated by it.

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A smoking good time

In a few weeks, we will be grilling out some freshly caught rockfish. That’s right, we are dragging the Fishing Team out of retirement. I’m looking forward to a few days of laughter, love, and happiness. We have known each other for 4-5 decades and it should be a great time again.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The last night of the workweek is ahead of me this evening and then a big effort on the homestead for 3 days. Got a family gathering this weekend. The first such one since the passing of my father and mother inlaw. It might trigger some pauses. I’m sure there will be laughter and maybe a few tears. There is another addition to the family to be seen and celebrated. Some long overdue hugs and hopefully a good time to be had by all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Starting a day off in real pain is a pain.
  • It took us a little while but my better half and I are a pretty good team.
  • Some days you are just more thankful for than others. Yesterday was one of those.

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Nothing else matters

Nothing Else Matters is a tune that came on as I was reading a note from a very sick friend. And I was thinking, to him, nothing else matters but his health and the moments without pain and sickness from both his illness and treatments.

If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters. It’s a real simple fact of life that you won’t find anyone who is sick argues with. Not that many don’t overcome and work tirelessly minimizing the effects of ill health. Actually, most do, but there are days and weeks and months and sometimes years of bad days.

So today I’m appreciating my good health. Well with the exception of the normal daily aches and pain a 6+ decade old body develops which I will brush off as scars of making it this far.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Okay, onto a healthier topic, and that is another change of season is at our doorstep. There are things I love about each season here in the mid-Atlantic. One is that we do have distinctive seasons. Winter is cold and has snow. Not an unreasonable amount but a few significant ones. Fall and Spring are moderate temps with fall being a bit drier and the spring a bit moister. And of course my beloved SUMMER season of warm temps and beaches and great water temps.

The colors of fall are spectacular. That can’t be understated in many areas in this country. And when the leaves have fallen you have this colorful carpet (until I mow and rake) on the ground. And even when the trees are barren again, the new sights and views that open up are always refreshing. Fall was my favorite season to ride my motorcycle. And even now I keep my top down will for a few more months.

Fall in HoCo Photo by Mike Hartley

Fall is the season that leads you into the holidays. I do have a problem with all the pumpkin spiced crap coming out while it’s still summer and yes it’s already invaded my home weeks earlier.

Fall tries each year with great effort to transition me into the Winter season but it doesn’t have a good track record. I can remember a few winters in my youth that I enjoyed. The ones before I was 10 years old and delivering papers year-round. And maybe a few in my high school years. Of course a few with my own children. Then a huge gap till my 50s and the first fall and winter after my first cancer surgery. I was just starting to feel human again and thought I would never take another change of season for granted.

And I haven’t since and never will again. Yes, I still have my favorites and least favorites but I still have a great appreciation for each. I love the excitement in my better half when the temps don’t get out of the high 60s or low 70s and nights in the 40s come along. And her pleasure just increases as the temps drop more into winter, her favorite. Just another thing we are opposites at. But that is OK because we balance each other out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Too early to think yet.
  • Second try, still too early, I’ll post them later.

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A great night

My Son got us tickets to the ballgame last night in Baltimore for my birthday a while back. There is no better present than your children wanting to spend time with you. We were both noting how slow baseball is and he made a good point of how they need to speed the game up if they want to attract the younger crowd. At that point, the game was almost 4 hours long and it was in the 8th inning. And he is right but I sat there in the back of my mind thinking how great a game it is where we have time to catch up, talk about important stuff, fatherly advice, and back seat driving and he can’t escape.

But I listen more than I talk now and keep up with what is important to him and what changes in life he is dealing with both personally and professionally. And that is more important than sharing all my old advice. So to me, a long ballgame was a blessing and a real treat. Because it was the time together that was important.

You could hear those O’s bats last night. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, it’s the last Friday of the summer of 2021. Went by fast this year so I guess I had a good time. And while there are some nice days still ahead, I’m beginning to worry about my least favorite time of year, winter.

I see Gov Hogan is having flags at half-mast today for observation of the 10,000 Marylanders who have died from Covid19. Even though there are some that haven’t died directly of covid but the ramifications from it so I know for a fact that total is higher by at least 2. And I suspect much more experienced hardship that may have lead to their demise. I pause and pray for all those who have departed early.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Every Friday morning I get this recharge of energy when I hear my granddaughters voice coming in the front door. But for some strange reason I’m exshausted at the end of the day when she leaves.
  • My best friends are going to be away next week. I had better warn my better half that I’ll be around more.
  • Music can mend my sole.
  • Preparing for the worst never used to include stocking up on ammo.
  • I pray, but it doesn’t go via the Cathlic church anymore.
  • Nurses and bus drivers are the first of many underpaid professionals that they can’t fill enough positions for and probably won’t for the forseable future.



I’ve got to liven up this blog, I think I may be too bland in my content. I’ve got to work on my diversity, my work here is plain. Not plain in a bad way, I will never stop expressing my love of family and friends. I do though go on too much about what mundane stuff is going on around me. So I’m going to try to spread my wings a bit and attempt a little more color in my posts.

I’m going to try to be a little more colorful like this guy. Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of more. I guess all this extra moisture is driving snakes above ground. I haven’t seen one all summer and in the last week, I’ve seen 4 now. Some big, some small, but so far we have gotten along fine. They go their way, I go mine.

Sometimes it’s helpful to look at things from a different angle. I’m trying to do that more now. I read a good piece of advice about how to handle someone being a jerk. It said to just imagine them having a severe illness and your response will be much more tempered.

I like the M shape it makes. I’ll have to work that into a logo. Photo by Mike Hartley

Hopefully, I’ll find my voice and my vision and share them often. In looking back in history some of the greatest work has been produced in some of the most difficult times. And we certainly can look at today as a difficult series of years. But they are really easy as long as you have your health.

Sometimes people use filters that keep them from seeing something right in front of them. Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel like I’ve got a lot of creative juices just dying to be released. I just have to get moving and let things roll. I have the tools, I just need to make better use of them. I need to use them because when I do there is satisfaction when complete. There is the fun of doing it while in progress. And sometimes a smile on someone’s face at the end.

My granddaughter might like this one. Photo by Mike Hartley

So tonight starts a creative stretch of 4 days that I will devote some of my time expanding the playing field. Have a great hump day evening.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I enjoy this hot weather. I’m soaking every bit of it in now while I can.
  • Like the song says “Nobodys fault but mine”
  • Sometimes just general yard work is very satisfying when it doesn’t result in too much pain.
  • There are far too many cars with too much horsepower for too many young drivers without the skill to use it. I suggest giving all those high horsepower machines to us old guys who have the experience.

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Rolling into happiness

There are only so many nice days of summer left this year and today and tomorrow are going to be a few of them. I’m feeling good, despite a schedule without much rest in it. The last quarter of the year is always nuts and packed tight with activities. I wish I could make it to the beach next week with one of my best friends but doctor’s appointments have intervened.

It’s going to be a hot one today. I think a visit to the local snowball stand is in order. I find it relaxing to go to the corner and eat a snowball looking out over the hills below opposite it.

Off Woodstock Road across from the Snowball Stand. Photo by Mike Hartley

Next Monday is a big day for me. It’s funny though because I have no idea which way it will go. Kind of a strange feeling I haven’t had in a few years. Like I hear the athletes say, don’t get too high on the wins and don’t get too dejected on the loses. So I hope to keep that even keel regardless of which way it goes.

We are having a long-overdue family get-together in a few weeks. Going to grill out all the traditional burgers and dogs, there will be loads of salads and desserts. It will be the first such event without my Mother and Father in law and it will be tough on the family members. I’m sure a special prayer or two might be said for them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t need a gym, I have a big yard.
  • When injuries derail good teams it’s a real shame.
  • There is much to celebrate, if I could only remember what and when.
  • There are two parts of a remodel job that are fun. The first thought of it and when it’s finished and done correctly. Everything in between is a lot of work and a pain in the butt.

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The morning shoot

Took a short walk around the section near my parent’s grave this morning and grabbed a few shots of a beautiful place. I had my normal chat with them updating all the family status and goings-on, as well as my love for them, and hope they keep an eye on the family.

I love September visits. Things are green still but you can feel the change starting. I’m sure on my next visit I won’t have shorts on and a jacket or coat will be required.

One change to the normal visit was that the Memorial Bridge was closed so I had to take a strange route home. And they directed me on 395 which took me past the Pentagon around 10 am. Just thinking back, I also heard something strange for a Sunday. I heard Taps being played. I didn’t think they did interments on Sundays?

Arlington National Cemetery 9/12/21. Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m going to have to make up for this lazy afternoon tomorrow afternoon.
  • Keeping the momentum going, is always the hard part.
  • Learning to keep that positive creative spirit while chaos swirls around you is difficult but not impossible.
  • It can’t be Monday again.

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20 and 10

Dates like yesterday show how fast time moves. September 11th, 20 years ago is the only birthday of my mothers that I missed spending with her because I was working for a news organization and the news doesn’t get much bigger than that day. Before that September 11th, 2001, this day was always very special, but from 2001 on, it has a dual meaning. This also signals her 10th birthday since her passing. I miss her very much as does my family.

I sat here a few minutes before knowing what I wanted to express about that day. So I paused and went to look at today’s weather forecast. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day here today September 11th, 2021, much like it was 20 years ago. Bright blue skies, about 80 degrees, and I’m reminded of that calm feeling I had that morning. I think I drove into D.C. around daybreak. It started like any other day except that I knew it was going to be a short workday because I wanted to take my Mom to a late lunch to celebrate her day.

It started off like normal going over the reported overnight issues with the editorial systems. I had come to the newsroom floor to talk with one of the other support technicians and he told me it looked like a plane had hit one of the towers and pointed to one of the overhead TVs. I remember both commenting how does a plane not see that on such a clear day and what the hell is he doing at that altitude? We half-watched for a few minutes and started to talk about a problem and then the second plane hit.

That is a moment when you know that the first plane was no accident. The day was a blur of massive activity the next several days but this anticipated short day turned into 18 hours if my memory is still intact. Watching people flee town after the plane hit the Pentagon and then seeing the place look like a ghost town when I went out to try to find lunch. Such a strange sight, empty streets in DC at lunchtime., soldiers at intersections, and smoke over the city.

One of the systems under our watch was the incoming wire service photos. I can’t remember how many different images I viewed that day but it was a lot. I found myself when I had a free moment always returning to look for new images. I guess I haven’t changed much in 20 years. This week I’ve been watching as many of the tv specials about it as I can and also seeing those old images come up again in the system as stories are written about the day and time that has now passed.

I’m going to see my parents today and pay my respects. I think while I’m there I’ll wander over to the Pentagon Memorial at Arlington and add a prayer.

Steel from World Trade Center Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The best words about September 11, come from survivors, family members and friends of loved ones lost.
  • It’s so easy to take feeling good for granted. Don’t you do it.
  • Even though I see my grown children often, I still miss them all the time I don’t.
  • I’m looking forward to a beautiful Sunday. I hope you are also.

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For granted

One of my great failings in life is periodically taking my better half for granted. And I realized I’ve been doing that in regard to not taking her many places in a while. Of course, the recent pandemic has also put a damper on that activity but there are a ton of things still available to do and I got to get busy proposing some again.

I did better Thursday morning taking her to the EZ Cafe for breakfast which we hadn’t been to in some time and then did some shopping together at Clarks. Also scheduled some time away before the end of the year at a quiet place we both love. Somewhere we have been meaning to stay for some time now and finally decided to splurge. Well, the splurge might not seem that way to some. For us, it’s a splurge.

So if you have been taking your significant other for granted in any way. Correct course, get busy and do something. It only takes effort. There is a ton of places to visit and have a good time at. And sometimes it’s just a matter of spending more time together doing simple things.

Life is short and I’m living more in the present now. I’m using more time to create each day. What I get done around the house and yard is what I get done when I get it done. I’d rather be playing with my Dremel tool. Or writing or photographing. Maybe playing with my granddaughter or sending my kids something interesting to read.

The other day I had a doctor’s appointment. Instead of hustling home, I went for a cruise. Not a long one but it was a beautiful morning and the top was down and the sun was out so what the hell, I went for it. One of the great pleasures of driving is when you have no place to go in particular and no timeframe to get there.

Cloud imitating building. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had the thought of letting my hair grow again and went several weeks beyond my normal haircut time but I just don’t like that interm period between short and nice very long. So it’s cut once more.
  • One of my favorite atheletes of all time has been Derek Jeter. He is now in the Hall of Fame and rightfully so.
  • Wow, the kickoff of the NFL season is here. So even though they don’t use it anymore I had to listen to “All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight.” (the old MNF lead in song) I can remember singing that infant daughter at the start of Monday Night Football. She would get so excited. And then fall asleep.

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Grooving and moving

Some music inspired me yesterday, and the body was going to its beat. I couldn’t stop it. The brain assumes auto control and the shoulders and hips start to swing, there goes a slight knee bend, the head is on a swivel now and the arms jut out in different directions. The spine twist and turns, the ankles spring into action and the fingers are plucking the cords.

The voice comes alive, I can’t believe I remember the words. I pump my fist skyward at the crescendo. And then like a major league umpire punching out a batter on the third strike down on one knee and side fist pump with a little head shake for emphasis. What a great feeling to start the day.

Dancing on the dugout. Photo by Mike Hartley

Aggression leaves the body. Feelings of peace and contentment come over me. I feel so in tune with the music at times. As the song says “God gave Rock and Roll to you.” Sorry didn’t mean to get religious, it’s just the song title to an old tune by Argent.

Which spurred the thought, what songs today unite or bring attention to the perils of our existence like when I was growing up. I don’t say that as a criticism, I just don’t know today’s music well and what I do I can’t understand nor like the beat enough to seek out the lyrics. I guess I should be more patient and investigate that instead of making a broad statement about today’s music.

The difference is I didn’t have to hear a song more than once to know something clicked in me to want to hear it again really bad. And when I did I got even more excited and would let my body go because the words and or beat inspired me.

Well enough fun and frivolity. Got a busy day ahead. The sun is about to rise and I must check to see if those torrential rains last night washed anything out. And if I’m lucky today I’ll take my cameras out and collect some new images of a place in time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like it when I learn, it makes me feel good till I think about my ignorance of that knowledge before then.
  • Photography is the great equalizer. All of us can take a picture. Its how we see and imagine and interpret and then choose what to capture that separates us.
  • Don’t by a hammock and then not put it to use.
  • Richness is measured in the quality of friends.

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As young adults, children, grandchildren, teachers, administrators, and bus drivers all begin anew many are holding their breaths as to what might come of this attempt. I know I am because I have players in the game. Colleges to kindergarten and daycare to night school are all facing a lot of unknowns with different plans and disagreements on paths of action.

Tensions are going to be strained. Parents are already apprehensive on a large scale as to any number of concerns for safety, communications, and really every aspect of their kid’s days now. Funny how a pandemic can bring such sudden interest among parents.

There is only trouble ahead. We are dammed if we do and dammed if we didn’t. Our success is how we respond and move forward in the best interest of everyone in a school. We need to teach our children resilience and staying focused on goals through difficult times and we are having some success but also some failures.

A wave with a smile. Photo by Mike Hartley

I thought about reactions and things asked of previous generations during crises and tough times. I thought about my Mom who was born in 1923 and raised in the depression. In her late teens, this country entered WW2 and she married a Navy man who served in the Pacific and also Korea and on operation Deep Freeze. Think about those few things. There was no Zoom or everyone with a cell phone. Communications were by letter and sometimes depending on where they were long times between while knowing they were in harm’s way every day.

And even though he survived those things he died at a young age due to those wars and she was left to raise a 9 and 7-year-old alone. Despite this, I was raised with a very positive, strong, and forward-looking person who believed in people and doing good. And of course, doing what was needed to overcome.

Yes, I admit this pandemic has caused people living on the edge (and there are lots of them) for this to be equivalent to a Depressions era event as was experienced back in the 1920s. Yes, there has been a tremendous loss of life (I believe about 230 thousand more than was lost in WW2 so yes there has been tremendous suffering by those ravaged by the virus by those who didn’t survive and even some who have, who now have lasting effects.

But I’m talking about a majority of us coming through fairly unscathed. A lot of people well off complaining like a child throwing a tantrum in a store because they can’t have a dinner out or they have to wear a mask someplace or their package is delayed or they can’t get the car they wanted because of a chip shortage.

The only thing that I’ve let get to me has been the decreased face-to-face time with friends and family. But if that means everyone’s safety for a short period of time, come on, that is a very small sacrifice.

The truth is very few if any know exactly what is coming and what duration this is going to take. I’m expecting chaos this year for kids. And that is because my daughter’s daycare has already closed for a period of time due to the virus. We have made adjustments because we can and will do anything for our children and grandchildren.

I recognize not everyone is in a position to do that and that is why we all are needed to help minimize the impact. Be it emotional support, monetary support, or even help in care for family or friends. We all need to pitch in and in many ways, not just for our own families but of those around us and far away.

Maybe neighbors need to be more of an extended family. Maybe the well-to-do can contribute to those less fortunate or hit by natural disasters. Maybe employers can step up their flexibility. Maybe we can all find something to do a bigger part in. Or just simple things like taking the time to be supportive of someone. It would be the best example for our youth.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Use the tools you have often and wisely, and you will succeed.
  • I’m not thrilled with days that include doctors appointments.
  • I work with a lot of young people. They seem to lack more patience than us old farts.

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Tailgate party

One of my best friends and I were sitting around talking about the old days of working together and decided that a meeting of people from the old company was needed. So I think we are pursuing a tailgate party in the parking lot of the old building. This could be just a few people showing up to a lot more. I have no idea how many are still in the area. But over a span of several decades, there are a good number of people who worked there.

Right now it’s an empty parking lot and empty building. Hopefully, the local police won’t call SWAT out on us for this unsanctioned event. And right now the idea is in its infant stage but announced so we will see what comes of it. I’ll write more on it as it develops. It has the potential to be something special.

Now that is a tailgate. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another working holiday weekend is upon me. Some years our team ends up working 6 out of the 8 company holidays. It sucks and I’ll be glad when I can say no mas. Especially days like today where it is so beautiful outside. But that is the deal I agreed to so I’ll just be glad I’m gainfully employed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Days spent in service of others are rewarding. Be it family, friends, strangers or country.
  • I think I’ll call my sister, been a long time since we talked.
  • As I look at the beautiful green canopy of trees out in my back yard, my mind wanders to a few months from now it will be bare again. Each change of season gets a little more significant as you age.
  • If you can manage to be happier than the day before your on the right track.
  • I always wonder what my kids are up to when I don’t hear from them that day.

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Storm Away

I look at my home and it’s intact. The yard is a little bit of a mess but nothing a day of work won’t resolve. And I shake my head at the luck we had from this storm. Wind and lots of rain but no flooding and no tornados. But as the pictures around the country attest to the extensive damage in many states.

Flooded Main Street Ellicott City from Agnes in 1975. Photo by Mike Hartley

People’s lives changed forever. And at the best some huge disruptions to the whole Gulf to the Northeast. Not to minimize the fires the West is dealing with but the roads, bridges, and rail lines that will need repair are not just going to take days and weeks but months and maybe years closer to where the storm initially hit. The need is so great and the damage so extensive that I wonder if it will change people’s minds on where to live or climate change.

The death toll also keeps rising from this storm and many are missing. It seems like far too many have nobody to look out for them when emergencies arise. Mainly seniors but lots of single-parent families also.

It’s going to have a ripple effect soon. Gas prices will certainly rise. Supply chain disruptions are certainly in order and basics like power and water may be affected for some time for many areas. So being on the lucky side of the storm I think I’ll make a contribution to those who help those in need. May I suggest the same if you have been lucky also?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t believe the Columbia Mall is going to be 50 years old Saturday.
  • I never thought much before about states I wouldn’t visit before, but now I certainly do.
  • Sorry I was away for a few days. I was doing prep and recover from the weather. Oh and the job that pays the bills was unusually busy. And that is all the excuses I need. But I’m glad to be back and hope to crank out some posts this weekend.

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Mother Nature Rules

Mother Nature can create such devastation and at the same time, she creates such beauty that all you can do is marvel at both of them. As hurricane Ida hits the south I think of the strongest winds I ever saw in my life and that was just this past summer when a tropical storm passed over Ocean City. And that was nothing compared to what a hurricane can provide.

After that one episode, I have a respect for wind that I didn’t before. Living where we do the chances are fairly remote but if one does head this way, I’ll be getting out of its way.

With rain in the forecast for the next several days, I think I’ll concentrate on some indoor shooting.

Sir, behind you, RUN. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m mesmerized by the storm footage. The power and scope of this storm are impressive. Or maybe they all are and we are just seeing more footage now because everyone has a camera. I try to do my part to capture nature’s beauty. But I’ve also captured its nastiness, with local flood shots.

Lots of people needing lots of help. Think I’ll start with the Red Cross.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish for the safety of all the personell who stay during the storm to police, attend to the injured and those who open the streets and restore power in the Gulf Coast.
  • The good thing is everyone has an opinion. The bad thing is not everyone deserves one.
  • Wishing my two teachers in the family a good and safe year.
  • I can’t wait to hear those magic words, PaPa.

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A few days of fun

Pterodactyl is a word I taught our 2-year-old granddaughter. She pulled one of my Son’s old Beanie Babies out and that is what it was so I said that. She seemed intregieged. So I practiced it a few times with her and she had it in no time. So when her Mom dropped her off yesterday I went and got it and asked her what it was and she pronounced it perfectly.

I was so proud of her and myself. There are a bazillion things I would like to teach her and share with her. I hope I’m one of those lucky grandparents that lives a long time till grandkids are of the age to have marriages and children themselves. What a wonderful gift that would be.

Nature is the king of color. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have come to the conclusion that we won’t be one country for quite some time now. The divisions are too deep and a lot of them are not rooted in fact or truth. I have friends on both sides of the political fence and I see no middle ground between them. And this is very unhealthy for our country and I’m not even referring to the pandemic and people’s response to it, but just the overall health of a divided country.

Only a few days before kids return to school here so my usual warning to those out driving in the mornings and afternoons. WATCH OUT FOR SCHOOL BUSES and KIDS RUNNING TO THEM. It takes all my strength not to turn around and chase some of the people that ignore a stopped school bus flashing red lights and beat them to a pulp. I mean how F’ing inconsiderate of a human being are you?

And don’t give me the excuse you were tired or didn’t see it or wasn’t paying attention. That’s bullshit and you know it. There are things in the world that make me almost insane and this is one of them.

Caution, school season again. Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, the last of the cars for a bit. I love old classics and this is certainly one of them.

I loved those old BF Goodrich tires. Went through a few sets. Photo by Mike Hartley

I see Mikey and Mel’s are having another event on Oct 2nd. I’ll have to motor down for that also.

The Boss 302. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Only effort, keeps me from being successful at my next career. Trouble is I’m starting that career in retirement.
  • Meeting some old friends this morning. Will be good to see them. Even if it is on the computer.
  • It’s disappointing when you put so much effort and energy into something and get no respect or thanks for it. But such is life at times so I just roll with the punches.
  • I’m glad I looked up the spelling on pterodactyl because I certainly buchered it on my attemp. English isn’t my strong suit if you hadn’t noticed already.

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Back in Black

Not sure where I was going with this title today, but I did like this Vette and the song Back in Black. I haven’t been sure about a lot of things lately so a confused start is fitting. My mind has been wandering into uncomfortable territory and then I recover and move on. So we will repeat this process today and move on again to being as happy and productive as we can.

Mona Lisa. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are only so many free moments in the day and I’ve wasted a few today already so I should get moving. I let the job that pays the bills to frustrate me a little and that is wasted time. I let health concerns worry me and that is a waste of time. And I’ve just been a little lazy.

That will change the next two days when I practice my child care skills with a 2 1/2-year-old. And I think I’m tired now. I imagine by Friday night at this time I’ll be begging for a nap.

Convertible and 4 on the floor. I’m happy. Photo by Mike Hartley

I will do some shooting this weekend. Not sure what or where but the cameras are coming out. I will not let this body stop me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My thoughts are with the families of those service members who made the ultimate scarifice today.
  • My body never used to scare me.
  • Some fishing is planned for this fall with my best friends. I had better practice smiling all day. Because we laugh so hard and so long my face usually hurts after a weekend together.
  • Car shows are like an art gallery. The parking spaces are the frame. Everyone gets the same lighting. You can tell the popular pieces by the crowd around them.
  • I’m reminding myself now that I didn’t properly appreciate the days I had this year without pain.

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An hour of smiles

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

Classics to contemporary were found here. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

A trio of Speedsters. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice American Grafitti replica. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

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


Lunch and rest, nice combo

A beautiful Friday when the rains cleared, a wonderful lunch in New Market Maryland at a spot called The Derby. What a little gem in a little town. We will be returning for more good food and good service. My better half made this suggestion so I owe her one. First I like small towns. Next, I like somewhat casual places. If I get a great meal and service I’m all in and will sing its praises. So if you are out that way stop in and try their treats.

We got home and I got far too relaxed for a change of pace and my better half convinced me to just chill to enjoy the day without chores. And so I did. Not often do I do that and it felt great and well-timed. It also reminded me I need to do more with my better half. She deserves a lot better effort and I need to step up. I guess I got a bit lazy and paranoid during the last year and more.

I had better get busy with the planning and execution for the rest of this year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got 3 days in a row shooting new content. Feels good.
  • Your rich when people care about you.
  • Got some car photos from this mornings shoot at Mikey and Mels 3rd Cruise In at Maple Lawn.
  • Days I can just sit back and smile at points due to my children is a really nice benefit.
  • Feeling artistic this evening. I should do something.

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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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Get going

I’m going to try to focus on being more active each day. I was getting a little lazy and relaxed recently. I was reminded about how much fun being inactive is the last few days. And that is NO FUN at all. After a wonderful start to the weekend packed full of activities I was stopped in my tracks halfway through. That was the worst I felt in some time and I let it get the best of me mentally. I wasted time, but at least I’m in the right frame of mind again.

There can be infinite things to do if you get past that sign. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was an excellent reminder to do as much as I can while I’m a fairly healthy individual. Because as we all eventually learn, time is a gift not to be wasted. And while I’m not 100% today I’ve got the right motivation so like any other day, I should make the best of it. So here we go.

Today I see opportunities. I’m close to finishing one of my 4 wall exhibits in my office. And I’m going to work on that and clean up another one to get started on it tonight.

Keep your head up, there are a lot of nuts out there. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is a new museum in DC called Planet Word. It looks very cool and I can’t wait to pay it a visit and then go again someday when my granddaughter starts forming a few more words.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel for our Veterans and want to express my appreciation and support.
  • You try working a night shift for a decade or more.
  • Whomever is doing the rain dance, you can stop now.
  • Worry is something I wish I could spend less time on.
  • Life has a way of piling on at times.
  • Will we learn important lessons from our last 20 years in Afganistan?

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Just in time – Ice Cream

As we were walking the streets of Annapolis Thursday I noticed an ice cream delivery being made to the Red Bean Ice Cream and Coffee shop. There is no better week to have some ice cream than this one. I even mixed some ice cream into my cherry snowball on the way home.

Get inside quick, melt time 30 seconds. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got to spend a wonderful day with my daughter this week. Walking, talking, eating, and just going over all the things that get lost or don’t have a chance to discuss with a short visit and others around. That one on one time with your children is important. No matter what age they are, they and you can always benefit from that experience.

I’m amazed at the speed my children are learning important life lessons much faster than I ever did. For instance their work and life balance. I never got that right for many decades into my adult years. But the words I heard yesterday and actions I’ve seen have set my heart at ease. So much maturity at such early ages will benefit them for many decades to come.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love watching approaching thunderstorms. I hate picking up the damage after they pass.
  • So many options in life. Well that is if you are lucky, so if you have a choice appreciate it.
  • It’s interesting how still it can get after a severe storm.
  • No this isn’t the start of the football season. I think Alan Iverson said it best. “We talk’en about Practice.”
  • This wasn’t the best of days. But I’ve made it through it.

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You talking to me?

Don’t know why I thought of that (“You talking to me” quote from Taxi Driver) while taking this shot but that is what sick thought popped in this head. His look just had that attitude to it. I watched him for a while and he seemed to be having problems finding the spot he entered my old pool fence at. And I couldn’t find a low spot either where he was going to fit that shell through but obviously, he had. Anyway instead of watching him struggle I put him outside the fence. I went back out 3 minutes later to check on him and he was gone into the tall grass.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m always on the lookout for him when cutting grass because I know he frequents my yard and the neighbors a good bit. And now that they have one of those services that come in with those huge mowers that roll around a yard at warp speed he won’t have a chance if he is out in the open over there.

I guess I’m a sucker for wildlife. I’ll stop to move a praying mantis or frog instead of mowing them over. I know I can’t save everything. I’ve probably killed too many bee’s and I certainly put a dent in the Cicada population earlier this year with the tractor. Now snakes, I know they are good. I don’t have a problem with the small or medium ones at all, we go our own way. The larger ones or poisonous I don’t mess around. Only once in a property dispute with a very large one who made it clear on a few occasions he didn’t like me on my property, did I have to take action.

I love the wildlife around here, reminds me of my youth and that is strange in a county that has changed so much with development everywhere. Families of deer, yes they are a pain, they eat my better half’s flowers and crap in the yard and maybe spread deer ticks. They are still beautiful and watching the young ones run and jump and turn with abandon is like watching a comedic ballet. I love the birds despite them decorating my freshly washed cars once in a while. I love watching that fox stalk and hunt. I love seeing that big groundhog and it’s young every so often.

I’ve even tolerated the mole who has been working on the border of my property but has been sampling more and more of my soil underground. My patience is wearing thin with him though. I was hoping the hawks that frequent the airspace in my yard would have nailed him but I guess I’ll have to put a little effort into it myself.

A southern turtle would say “Yall take car now”. Photo by Mike Hartley

The rabbits and squirrels entertain the young ones and keep the dog’s attention when we watch my son’s 4 legged babies. The occasional raccoon passing through or possum. I have yet to see the black bear roaming this area but I’m sure he has been through the woods behind us.

It reminds me of my youth when we used to see wildlife fairly frequently. Too bad even less of the counties next generation will have that experience as development continues.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A difficult day depends on perspective. I know someone who would love to have a difficult day at the job if they were healthy enough.
  • Democracy only is as good as our response to crisis situtuation together.
  • If they stop making cars with manual transmissions I’ll buy an older car.
  • I’m falling behind on my daily desk calendar again. I think I do it intentionally but time keeps moving on.

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Hoofing it alone

This past week was one of doing my shift alone. Usually, there are two of us but vacations come around. It’s interesting working independently. The boss was out also so I really had to keep the eagle eye out. I’ve actually learned to like this more as I’ve gotten later in my career. I’ve worked in all-size groups and teams and there is a lot of enjoyment in that also. But also some headaches. And managing groups and teams is another set of rewards and trials.

Working alone or independently takes some discipline and focus. I’ve seen some become lazy and let the opportunity pass them by. The roles I’ve had throughout my career have led to smaller and smaller teams, not something I was consciously thinking about or looking for, kind of just evolved that way.

In a few years when I retire, I’ll be totally alone working on my own crafts and no excuse of a full-time job in the way progress so I had better be ready to step up.

Alone with nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I feel very alone. Well, make that a good number of times. Out of the loop on communications. I try to be a good listener but feel I’m excluded from time to time. I don’t feel comfortable sharing opinions now as I once did. I know I’m a bit more on the passionate side when it comes to the presentation but I’m not inflexible.

Anyway, it gets disappointing sometimes but I’ll adjust. And in a positive way instead of a negative one. But I do find myself getting into a bit of a shell. One I’d rather not wear but comes with the territory. And as with all things in life, it comes in ebbs and flows.

I think I’ll go work on some wood this week. I got a few new bits for the Dremel tool and one of these days I’ll learn what I’m doing by doing it or I’ll have to revert to watching some YouTube videos on it to learn. I’m kind of stubborn still. I didn’t grow up having Google or YouTube to learn stuff. We did it by trying to do it. Hopefully, you knew someone with tips and tricks or experience to mentor.

If the push mower stopped you got down and learned where the air filter was, how to check the oil, maybe look at and adjust a carb or replace a fuel filter. Or get dirty cleaning the underside of the mowing deck. Not taking it to the dealer or having someone pull up and pick up your rider. You fixed it.

I remember it seemed that if our cars weren’t moving, the hoods were up with us tinkering with them or admiring the latest new headers or carb or inside testing out the new stereo system with power boosters. Now I know where my hearing went. Open headers and loud stereo systems. Well, maybe a few rock concerts contributed also.

Well, I had better get busy, I want to make good use of this week. Maybe get out to the county fair and do some photography. I think I’m shooting Annapolis one day also. And some friends this weekend. Guess I better charge the batteries.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Green Onions – A song too cool for lyrics.
  • Any day I get to grill out is a good one.
  • The more I go about setting a better example the better person I am for it.
  • Even when I take a day to relax I feel guilty.
  • Whomever is making the meal deserves the praise and thanks of those consuming it.

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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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Choosing words

Writing is still very new to me and starting each day playing around, crafting a post is still a unique experience. Sometimes an intimidating one being I read quite a few very talented blogs and know I’m nowhere close to the skill in crafting a story, poem, observation, or topic that is really good yet.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Choosing a photo is much easier and helps me sometimes ease into a train of thought or observation or feeling that day.

Sort of like this image toasting a sunset last month. Kind of brings calm to my less-than-perfect day and leaves me to hope that tomorrow is better.

So a toast to today and looking forward to the warmth of another summer day ahead.

We are soon to run out of summer days so I had better get busy and get my behind to the ocean in the next few weeks or I’m going to beat myself up all winter long, wishing I had hopped in the car and just headed east till I hit the water and couldn’t go any further.

So I had better change the oil and check the fluids and pressure on the tires so we are good to go on a trip. Some say I’m nuts for just taking a day trip and doing that much driving in one day. It’s only about 6 hours even if I hit some traffic but that isn’t likely during the week. And I might even do an hour or two of cruising while there between some beach time and meals.

I have pretty clear recollections of past day trips to the ocean. There is something to be said for a little solitude time. Just the music or wind, sand, and water. The miles melt away on the trip down and back. The smile as I enter the town limits. The smells of all the local food establishments calling me and trying to decide all the places I want to stop at. The sounds of the waves as I approach the dunes crossing. The sun baking me till I have to hit the water.

But the alone time in the middle of a crowd is interesting. I might chat with the waitress or a passing hello to people coming and exiting the beach. I used to enjoy saying hello to some of the old locals who manned the parking pay booths but they took that out years ago. Sometimes meeting fellow bikers in town and short rides together.

A stop at Fagers Island to watch the sunset and listen to the 1812 Overture as the sun slips below the horizon before heading out of town.

The time for thought and reflection is there to make your way through and adjust the attitude and priorities. To know and refocus on what is important. To have an appreciation for much that has been given. And to pass along and help those less fortunate. I notice the fewer days like this I take the more out of sorts I am. There have been some years where I haven’t taken a day for myself and that isn’t smart. It’s not like a need a ton of them to right the ship but one or two a year really helps both my outlook and probably health physically and mentally.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My instincts are still working. I was up working last night when that earthquake rumbled for a few seconds. And after a minute I figured out that was the only thing that could have produced that noise at that time.
  • So many serious problems facing the world. So few willing to do the hard work to turn things around.
  • This decade will define how this country moves forward together or backwards apart.
  • Does ice cream taste better during the summer?
  • Looks like we pushed mass homelessness 60 days down the road.

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Some days

Some days you roll with the punches and some days you don’t. The more you can handle or slip the blows, the better life is, but I forget that from time to time, and just like a fight, some punches are harder than others. But I’m up and dancing in the ring again so as they say I’ve lived to fight another day.

Today is a planning day. Some very important negotiations are coming up and the better-prepared one is the better the results usually. It’s going to affect things fairly significantly going forward in my professional career and therefore affect my personal life and time.

I need to get a flagpole for the yard. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was out and about the last few days a bit and saw that masks are making a comeback. Maybe rightly so, I see the positivity rate climbing again and maybe soon into areas where it would be smart to mask up again. And when I say out and about I not talking about attending a concert or going to the most crowded restaurant or a packed shopping mall or ballpark.

My breathing isn’t the best when I’m feeling great. For instance that smoke from the fires out west and working outside those few days that it was heavy, put a hurting on me. So I’m really on guard against this virus. I got vaccinated as soon as it was available to me. I’m interested in getting a booster because I believe I read that the J&J vaccine was good for at least 8 months, probably more. Well, I’m not a probably guy. So that means I’m protected (as far as anyone knows) till November.

Even though our state (Maryland) has been above average on getting the vaccine and the number of cases is still low Maryland ranked 9th this past week in the percentage change in daily cases in the last 7 days at 80%. While our cases are still in the hundreds per day instead of the tens of thousands in some other states, it’s obviously present in our area and spreading. And I’ve got to think that has a lot of people stressing out at the thought of more changes and restrictions again.

Nothing really has changed much since the beginning. Look at the Olympics taking place now. Do you see throngs of fans that normally attend the games? No, it’s like some of the previous sports seasons here in the US if they played at all. And all this makes me take a long-term view of it again as I did when the pandemic started. Some of my friends were stunned when I said a year at least, probably more back in March of 2020. Well after about 16 months we are still in it because we are selfish.

Science told the longer it went on the more it would mutate. Science told us that it would probably be like the flu and need annual vaccinations. Science told us early on it was more deadly and contagious than the normal flu and many brushed it off and died as a result.

That’s not to say I wasn’t in fear of the vaccine. We all saw how fast they were all developed. Some off different concepts. Multiple companies producing them. Availability short in the beginning so you took what was offered. You looked skyward and hoped for the best. My concern for my children and wife was off the charts hoping a bad reaction wasn’t in their future. All the time we are getting new updates on how effective they are against the various strains coming out.

I’ll have the same fear in getting a booster shot but I’ll get it when it’s available and recommended. Because that is the best we can do now. We have always had faith in modern medicine. The trouble is some expect perfection and that just isn’t possible because medicine is not an exact science.

We trust our doctors as they prescribe us medicines throughout our life. We trust them to operate on us. We trust them with flu and measles and other vaccines. What all changed so much? I guess politics had some impact, misinformation or just contradictory information sowed confusion and still does.

Is the summer surge that has started going to continue to grow or just drop off? I’m not taking a chance, my mask will be reappearing and my activities and contacts will be limited. This is about adapting quickly and being patient. Think about the likelihood of success of telling everyone they have to were a mask again and that they can’t attend their favorite sporting event or eat inside again. There is going to be a mass revolt among many and it will continue on and on.

But my main concern is for the children under 12. The unvaccinated who can’t be at this time. And were going to put them in school again soon in large numbers and this could be a disaster. I don’t know why we can’t see this coming. I know the alternative is hell, but at least some won’t parish.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m much happier when I get in the car and start it and have no destination to reach.
  • I wonder if the selfishness in a few is increasing the selfishness in others?
  • I’m getting better at getting answers to questions without even asking them.
  • I look forward to the joy that I will have on Sunday nights the first weeks when I’m retired and not having to work them.

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When I wasn’t looking

The joy of riding a motorcycle was mine for about 3 decades, but I have taken to 4 wheels in my 50’s and 60’s. I was tooling down the local Rt 40 corridor this Sunday morning and I was passed by two bikes. I thought my eyes were having an issue because the front of one looked like I was seeing double. Interestingly they took a right at Bethany Lane and I followed them into Ellicott City Motorsports where they were gathering for a ride.

It’s called a Yamaha Niken GT. Photo by Mike Hartley

I used to look at all the bikes every year from every manufacturer. Well, obviously I’ve fallen short the last couple of years and have not kept up with changes. I wouldn’t buy this bike but I am intrigued by it. High tech engineering hit this industry long ago and power and handling have skyrocketed. The auto industry has caught up in recent years.

So good Friday morning to all. A wonderful day to be alive so far. Oh to be out on the water on a clear morning like the one below. I guess I stopped when I saw this shot because the boys are planning a trip out on the bay this fall for some rockfish. And that might just trigger that instinct that we need to get back out for some tuna or sailfish in the waters off Florida’s east coast. Then again we should really try right off Ocean City.

Deep Blue. Photo by Mike Hartley

But today I’ll stay landlocked trying to get the yard work out of the way so I can enjoy the next two days. Looks to be a beautiful evening so I have the thought of getting out and trying some night shots around the county. I feel a wave of inspiration hit me and I must address it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Someone forgot to tell me that when you retire from your full time job that pays the bills you are transferred into a full time job for the medical system and they send you bills. I think I just discovered I’m in the transition cycle.
  • Eating right is eating what makes me happy.
  • You don’t have a dish of ice cream you have a BOWL of ice cream.
  • Some people are rude and just can’t help themselves from being A-holes all the time. Some of us just have a button that can be pushed. And then there are the few saints walking the earth.

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A still morning

I like stepping outside just before sunrise. This morning was especially quiet with no breeze. The stillness of the trees and woods were peaceful and unsettling at the same time while just one bird was signaling the start of a new day. I’m trying to savor each morning and make up for those I missed as a youth recovering from the night’s festivities.

I love the summer mornings where I can step out in a pair of gym shorts and be totally comfortable in the 75-85 degree temps. To stand still and just take in nature in my back or front yard. Maybe a hawk sitting on my old pool fence. One of my favorite friends. I support his efforts fully at keeping the varment population in check.

A true hunter. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is also a great chance of seeing deer in the early mornings. To me, it seems the population is pretty high. But that is just my corner of the world. Maybe they just like my neighborhood, or should I say our neighborhood. By the way, that eyesore in the background is not mine.

Don’t just stand there junior, follow your mom. Photo by Mike Hartley

Okay, the reality is setting in, I must move from the computer to the yard. Much is to be done in the landscaping process. I’m starting to feel inspiration returning and hope to share more regularly here also. Looks like it could be a good week for some photography work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • An anniversary date of past loved ones is still worth remembering.
  • If we can build a quiet dishwasher why can’t we make quiet trash trucks?
  • It’s fun living in a spot where you can hear a train whistle in the distance.
  • I know I’m out of sorts when I’m not peeling the daily calendar regularly. Because all of them are funny and I love laughter so life is therefore out of balance.

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Mindless yard work as therapy

The mowing of grass, picking up sticks and branches, pulling weeds, putting fertilizer down, raking and filling in low spots. All chores most hate but I take some solace in. One it feels good to do some physical work. And when it’s summer I love it even more.

Yes, it would be easier to work on my tan in the hammock or lounge chair. But then I’d be missing out on the feeling of accomplishment. And sometimes when things are bothering me it’s good mental therapy. It can allow time for planning or reflection. I can revert to my youth as I drive the tractor, I can work out some physical aggression with a shovel or collect my thoughts with a rake. And even jump into the future with my star wars weed-killing spray canister.

It’s a multifaceted escape from phones, computers, and people. Nothing but you and earth. And that is kind of relaxing. And here we are at the brink of another day. The yard is almost pristine, just a little more trimming. Then the pool project will continue as today is dirt removal and cutting 6×6’s to shape for the retaining wall.

Well with the boys out of town I guess I’m going cruising sometime between now and sunset. It will be a comfortable ride and I just washed the go-cart so out we go for a spin.

Shooting Beauty? Photo by Mike Hartley

I did something unusual, I took a day off in the middle of the workweek. I got to see the NBA finals with best friends and catch my breath on a Tuesday night. Sometimes I don’t realize how tired I am unless I don’t have to stay up. I’ve discovered a day off is good anytime. I made it worthwhile in both chores accomplished and some fun mixed in. The balance is good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The world may seem infinite in its size wonderment and beauty but we will soon realize its not.
  • A great time is when I can make a friend laugh so hard that when they catch their breath they say to me “you just aren’t right.”
  • We used to have such trust in each other. People that at one time would charge up a hill together in a blaze of fire, now they are more likely to fire on each other arguing who’s decision it was to charge the hill.
  • Music is the time machine.
  • Momements for oneself are sometimes very enlightening.

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Slipping through a Sunday

An early start on a Sunday morning always feels good, to begin with. But when I slipped on a muddy spot and thought I was going to do a butt plant, I wondered briefly. Thankfully I did hold enough balance to remain upright after what would have been a YouTube moment. A much better result than finding my backside in the mud.

I guess I got all the accidental spills out of the way yesterday. At least I hope so. It’s nice to see I was able to preserve a lot of that fresh topsoil and seed despite those heavy rains yesterday.

Sunday’s also remind me of Sundays in the Park at Northside in Ocean City. It’s a beautiful spot that is very well kept and highly used from sunup to sundown. I wish we could keep the rest of our communities as clean as we do the parks.

Northside Park Ocean City MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

While mowing the backyard today I thought about the weekend spent working. I’m not complaining about it and feel good about the accomplishments. But I do need to unwind and starting off the workweek tonight isn’t going to allow for that. So I guess I’ll have to mix in some fun during the week.

Tomorrow I hope to get out and about a little bit and get back to what I find beautiful about this area I live and grew up in. Maybe a morning ride if the sunrise looks good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • July, a good month for a comeback effort.
  • I think I’ll try to grill out at least 2-3 times a week till it gets cooler.
  • I thought the deck we put up a long while ago would last forever, I was wrong. But that allows for a new design someday in the future.
  • When a company calls you to schedule an install and you say that day isn’t good and they reply are you going to be away on vacation? It sends up real caution flags. When that same company calls the day they are supposed to come and can’t make it more caution flags appear. When said company does come and does a sloppy job you throw in the towel. Well Lowes, you have now joined Home Depot and Walmart as big box stores I won’t shop at again. And for the record I never brought a thing from Walmart.

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A Shadow of myself

Some days I wake feeling like a shadow of myself. Even though age is just a number, it’s one that eventually turns where things change. But like the bike below I still I’m still proud of what cast that shadow. I’m not in optimum shape but with some work, I can be a classic like below. Just a little thinning of the midsection. Broaden the shoulders with those ape hangers. And it looks like this bike is prepared for my eyesight with extra lights because I don’t have the cat-like eyes I did as a youdth. (A little Pesci)

Ride tall, cast a big shadow. Photo by Mike Hartley

Back when I brought my first cruiser it was a Shadow 1100. And it was a ton of fun to ride anywhere. I could spend 8-10 hours in that saddle over a day and hop off with a spring in my step. As I sit here and wonder if I could do a couple of hours with my back now and if I did if I could lean forward enough to swing the leg over the saddle. Nah, I’m not that bad but closer to that than the long day trips of old.

How the memories take me back, if I did ride again it would probably be on a big cruiser like this one, but I feel I don’t have the reaction and durability it would take to ride and enjoy it safely. There are a few other things that better days are long past. Some sports, some dance moves, maybe a few of the yells our group did in the days of cruising and wearing a path in the local roadways.

I feel my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. I still have a lot of stuff in there, but my search tool malfunctions from time to time. And it leads to waking up in the middle of the night going “Connie Hawkins” as the answer you were trying to come up with for your friends 6 hours earlier in the evening.

My strength is a fraction of what it once was. And probably not a fraction I would like to see, but probably a good one for my age still. I look down at my tanned arms and chest but some of those hairs that would lighten up in the summer are now grey and that way year-round.

When I was stretching my hands from some cramps I noticed my skin isn’t as taught as it once was. But thankfully my better half still says I have soft hands.

Don’t worry, I’m not having a panic attack or concerned about the signs of aging, I’m fine with the changes and I hope to experience many more over a long time. I can find ways and work harder on staying mentally sharp. I’ve never been one to consider coloring my hair or cosmetic surgery. I do my best to stay away from doctors with knives, I’ve seen enough of them. I’m not taking up any fad diet or iron man workouts but will make an effort to be more healthy and respectful of the body.

I’m sometimes puzzled at the effort people put into looking so much younger than they are. I’d be uncomfortable with the thought that I would be uncomfortable in my own skin.

But I can honestly say the ’60s are when I’m starting to feel a bit older than the 40 I was pretending to be and thought I was. I guess I’m giving myself a little too much credit there. My better half says I’m a perpetual 18 year old.

So it’s time to accept a few changes of the mental and physical kind. Instead of pushing through to finish every chore on the list, I’ll listen to the body and do what is smart. I won’t beat myself up anymore if I can’t remember at that moment in time. And as always I’ll have an appreciation for every morning I wake and I’m granted another day.

But the thing that concerns me and that I thought of ahead of all the above crap, was that my better half and friends are all getting a little older also. And that scares me to death. It makes me want to walk upstairs and hug her very close and say for the umpteenth time today that “I love you” and then call my friends and see what they are doing and when we are gathering next.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Most days I’m flooded with random thoughts but remember very few to add when the time comes, so I wing it.
  • Cloud to ground lightning strikes can get your attention. Like the ones you see and hear at the same time.
  • We had our inground pool filled in. We kept the patio around it. But it very spooky to walk on it after all those decades of water.
  • Things are going to get interesting professionally soon.
  • I got a few new bits for the Dremel tool so I’ll be diddling around later. Watch out wood.

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Time & Lucky Man

Time – A great Pink Floyd song. But that isn’t what we are going to discuss today. My ever-increasing attention to utilizing time to its fullest because there is no time like the present. And time this week has been one wild ride. I think one of my best friends said something about me being a glutton for punishment. There is some truth in that statement but I can say I utilized the week well.

Time is the most precious gift you can receive. Well for anyone who enjoys living. Unfortunately, I know some are alive and don’t enjoy it, and I feel for them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

But I do and I’m trying to love every minute of it. My sense of appreciation and respect for time has been suspect in the past but I learned from it and won’t repeat that mistake. I’m waking with a more intense focus. Awareness that mixing pleasure with all the chores is a good thing. Taking a minute or two for the hammock or a day trip to the beach should feel great. That hard work the rest of the week enables a level of appreciation those who have this 24/7 can’t feel.

OC Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

Putting down and turning off those things that are big drains on time with little return when evaluated. Mixing things in that improve my day. Something as simple as putting some music on while working on the blog or editing photos.

Trying to work on the important things and put the minor stuff on the sidelines. Trying to be a better finisher. (stop laughing) It’s fun trying to top what I’ve done the previous day. I find myself even doing more on the job that pays the bills.

Speaking of that major time drain (WORK) I’ve got some vacation to schedule to build that momentum on my personal interest and crafts.

This weekend is a fine time to get going on those again being it’s the first one in a while that isn’t stuffed full of existing plans and commitments.

And the song I end this post listening to is contained in this lyric “Oh what a Lucky Man he was.” And if I’m given tomorrow I’ll be a Lucky Man.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Water the grass and it will grow. So says the guy at the hardware store. I think all my weeds are getting to the water first.
  • Favorite dress code standard = Retired. Wear whatever comes to mind that day and is comfortable and you don’t give a F what anyone else thinks.
  • Seeing best friends even for a short time is special.
  • I’m going to have a really cool patio area soon.

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Monday observations

After spending almost a week with my children and grandchildren I’m having withdraw, now that everyone has returned home. I miss that morning smile and wonderment of what the day brings from that 2 year old. I miss seeing my children relaxed and happy. The chance to have relaxed family meals together. Time for a walk on the beach to discuss life and many other treasures. I wish I had brought home some more candy.

I have not started the week out well with sleep. I’m getting a no soliciting sign and posting it because some people have the balls to pound on my door in the morning to wake me for a sales pitch. I wonder if that sign comes with permission to pound them?

And of course dealing with vendors this week has not started off well. A dishwasher was purchased from (a company to remain nameless for now) and they have 2 strikes against them already and if they don’t come Thursday for the install like they now say, that will be strike 3. Hey, it’s a big company, they probably won’t even feel that dishwasher being inserted in their backside.

And then there was work. The good old job that pays the bills. It’s not that I didn’t make it through the first night fine working alone, I’m fine doing that if needed. It’s just that strain of being up all night again and getting in that semi routine, 4 night and 3 day. I guess I’m like Blade. I do my work at night but I can also be a daywalker.

But hey, that is all small stuff. The kind of stuff that takes focus away from more important things. For instance I have to write a sick friend. One that reminds me how lucky I am to have my health which should never be taken for granted and is just about every day till we are sick.

Taking action to help others would be a better way to spend time today also. I’m going to try to help by starting at home and preparing dinner. Nothing to complex, going to try some new Caribbean spice on some shrimp with pasta. I need to cook more and I’m trying to get my time management under control better.

There has been a lot of success in reducing smartphone and tv time. I just need to keep that up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is short, get to doing what you want to do, now.
  • The Eastern Shore of Maryland has the sweetest white corn in the land.
  • The fun part of editing is when the photo is coming out of the printer.
  • I’m going to try to take a few classes this week

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Surfs up again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Surfing OC

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

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

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

Have a good afternoon all.

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No Sun this afternoon

Tropical storm Elsa is on our doorstep this evening. I see we are under a tornado watch. The heavy rains are just beginning but the winds are still moderate. People have been bringing outdoor furniture in and I see some businesses closing up early.

A good night to stay in, watch the NBA Finals game 2, and see the storm go by. I love watching weather events, but I’m more partial to the good days. So here is to a quick recovery from the storm and a good weekend ahead. I’m going to be out early and I hope there is a good sunrise.

I have a few other thoughts, but I’ll check in tomorrow morning with them because the winds are starting to pick up and power might be an issue in the next few hours as the storm center passes over us. Good luck to those north of us and a peaceful evening to all.

Hoping for a beautiful sunrise tomorrow. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I achive nothing else in my senior years I’ll be a happy man if my children and grandchildren have good memories with me.
  • Watching a childs first ammusement ride is a memory I won’t forget.
  • I hope CP3 gets his championship.
  • A best friend went under the knife today. I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
  • Time to warm up some leftover pizza.

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It’s going to be HOT

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Working at resting

Soaking up some rays today and the tan is coming along nicely without any sunburn so far this year. A wise move I’m told and with some friends having personal experience with the ramifications of that I’m a bit more aware of the serious problems that can occur from it. Use SunScreen.

I’ve concluded I can’t keep skipping sleep. Hope it’s not too late in life for that revelation and that too much damage hasn’t been done. It also reinforces some decisions I’m making about my professional life. Like many people have been doing with all the events of the last few years.

Won’t be much longer till I’ll be doing some ZZZ’s here. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes rest isn’t just sleeping. I’m trying to learn to relax my mind. It’s a much more difficult thing to do in my case and I’m guessing many others.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The generation that fought the early wars in this country have passed. Too bad some have forgot that we all are one contry. I just hope other countries don’t see our division as our weakest point and figure their chances of war against us could be won.
  • The dispartity of haves and have nots is a dangerous thing.
  • Going to resume going to the gun range. Hope I never have to demonstrate that skill elsewhere.
  • Personal opinion – Bill Cosby is a piece of crap.
  • We had better clear out all Americans from Afganistan, even Embassy and troops guarding it or it could be another slaughter. I don’t know why people can’t see this coming.

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Get where you’re going

Somedays I really miss riding. Yesterday was one of them when I saw many bikers out enjoying the good weather early. I’ll probably never ride again, but I greatly enjoyed the decades I did ride. I wish people respected them more on the road. I see massive tailgating of bikers. I think it’s a size thing because I have a small car now and people also feel the need to tailgate me.

Two wheels are more fun. Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t miss the days of not being seen and run off the road. I don’t miss being hit with a cigarette someone flicks out the window. I know of at least one person who regrets that maneuver. When confronted they decided the bird was the appropriate reply. Too bad they had to replace their driver’s side window.

A short work week for most with the Monday Holiday. Those days off are so precious and go so fast. So I’m going to sit back and savor today and tomorrow because this is one of the few holidays I have off.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Boom Boom Day – a happy 4th to all.
  • I think I got a little too much sun today. Better than too little.
  • There is nothing better than seeing children happy.
  • Fireworks make me feel young.

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Friday Thoughts

Was an early start to a Friday and felt OK to boot. I’ve written to many friends and family that morning. I do my best to keep in frequent contact with people. But I’m human also and from time to time priorities change. Glad I’ve recognized I should do that and not feel guilty about it.

Paddle-boarding. Photo by Mike Hartley

Some people’s selfishness just blows me away sometimes. Had a rude example of it today that I won’t waste time on being negative about it but I’m seeing more and more of it. And I wonder if that breads more of it?

I have a test coming up this week myself. Sort of a personal one. Usually when I put my mind to something it works out. I’ll have a number of people grading me and let you know how it works out later.

May everyone have a wonderful weekend and here in the states may you be able to celebrate together without judgment on this coming 4th of July.

Favorite lyric of the Day

Hail-hail to the good times
‘Cause rock has got the right of way
We ain’t no legend, ain’t no cause
We’re just living for today

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Always feels good to get the yard cut on a Friday and have the weekend to enjoy.
  • Sometimes I lose track of what the advertised medicine is for by the time they finish listing off all the negative side effects at the end.
  • There is an unusual chill in the air.


Tomorrow is here

And the workweek is upon us again. I would like to make like this bee below and hide from it but that isn’t me. I have to admit it’s getting harder to start each week at the job. Once I log in and get moving I snap out of it but just that start of the week gives me pause.

I guess I long for the day where there is no beginning and end of the week, just family, friends, and my crafts. A day to ask me “what do I want to do” and not have a list a mile long awaiting that answer. Time to keep in touch more, time to love more. Time to do more for others. Time to think and reflect. Time to sleep.

So until those days roll around I wish everyone a successful week at the job or jobs that attempt to pay the bills.

Bee trying to hide. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to try to start something new. That little device called a smartphone I carry around isn’t going to get much attention anymore. If it rings I’ll answer it. If a text comes through I’ll read it. Otherwise, I think it’s time to give the rest of it a rest. For instance, I left it in the car yesterday and only checked for messages and texts periodically between events I was attending.

Hell, my eyes aren’t that good anyway, why do I need to be looking at a screen that small. Why would I bury my face in it when in a public place and there is a chance of meeting someone nice face to face? I no longer have the desire to hear the latest outrageous thing being said or happening at that moment.

Feeling overwhelmed in the last few days. Life can do that to me from time to time. And overwhelmed leaves me with an empty tank to deal with more. But somehow I find energy and power through. My better half is very good at that also, powering through.

It’s easy to give up and wave a flag. But that isn’t the right thing to do instinctually. But many of us ignore that and shut down. I’ve been guilty of that myself so I can’t throw any stones. I pause sometimes now wasting time by worrying that I won’t grow old. I worry about having to return to the office sometime in the future. I worry about the toll this shift is taking on me.

I read another post that leads off with “Life, it’s returning to normal.” You know what, I don’t want to return to normal because that wasn’t as satisfying as I thought. I feel the schedule getting packed tightly again and the free time per day disappearing. I don’t want to return to hours a day in a car commuting or the frustration of those who are trying to kill the rest of us with poor driving ability. I don’t want opportunities to slip away from seeing family and friends.

Only time will tell how it all plays out but I’m on guard against jumping on that fast train again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Working outside on a day like today is best done in increments.
  • The pitcher for the LA Angles just redefined being a major league hurler. I hope the gentleman was OK.
  • As we age tough choices lay ahead in caring for friends and family who haven’t been as fortunate along the way.

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Saturday morning musings

It’s not the size of the fan its the size of the spirit in the fan. Photo by Mike Hartley

If water tasted as good as Coke it would be a lot easier to stay healthy with my fluid intake. And if tofu tasted as good as baby back ribs solids would be no problem. You know I think I could come up with an endless argument against healthy living if I were to go by taste alone.

I was so hoping to see the Philly 76ers collapse for the 3rd time in a row. I have to cheer for the Hawks, they have two former Maryland players.

I guess the trick in life as you age and experience more health issues is to keep that positive attitude and make the most of what you can in time and activities.

I think I’ll give up on the Catholic Church before they deem me not acceptable because of my beliefs. I guess it’s been coming for a while. That mixture of political divide getting into the church leadership and parishioners. If we can’t even worship together with some basic commonality then we certainly aren’t going to make it together outside the pews.

Sometimes when I’m pushing the mower now I think of the time I did that as a teen. I wonder how much time in my life I’ve spent cutting grass. And now that I think about it I don’t want to know that number. But I am happy that I’ve had the health to do it. Because about a dozen years ago after some surgery, I said just give me my health enough to get back and mow the yard again regularly and I’ll never complain about it again. Because if I can do that I can do a lot of other things also.

Every once in a while I get a real fear of not having much time left. And then I usually get up and pick up the pace.

Making a commitment to something doesn’t mean that if other priorities in life take over that you should feel guilty or remorse about failing to meet that original goal. Only if you don’t pick up again and get moving should there be ill feelings. And yes I hope I’m back more regularly in the coming months.

My best friends and I were sitting around the grill as we had some tunes on deck going and thought about how lucky we were growing up in the ’50s ’60s and ’70s and having such wonderful music made. I guess every generation has their hit soundtracks but somehow we felt blessed with an abundance of great ones we were given that seems to have endured the test of time.

I’m having my pool filled in. Will I be able to now say I walked on water?

You know what social media has really done. It’s pointed out how different we all are and that for as many people there are there will be that many different opinions. And that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. And therefore the defenses/offences (depending on your nature) are up not just online but in face to face situations.

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In reading about blogs the recommendations for finding your niche and running with it. I guess I didn’t and did take that advice. While I use all my own images, it’s not focused on photography as I first thought when I started. Images always inspire thought and I just transferred that to rambling on in my blog. And I learned along the way I like to write and thought I’d pursue that craft also.

Fishing on the bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I still think I’m searching for my niche in life even entering my senior years. And I’m fine with that because it leaves doors open. For instance, I still think there is no good reason to jump out of a perfectly good airplane in a parachute packed by someone you don’t know and go skydiving. But in a decade or two I might feel differently.

We are all searching for our niche, the right job, the right partner, the right home, the right inspiration, the right sport, and a gazillion other choices. Different interests take priority at different times in our lives. I’m just glad I’ve been given a long time to search for mine and each day I feel I’m getting closer to finding some more of them.

So let me get back to life and tending to my many niches.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s nice to have a local garage you can trust.
  • OC Police has a video out called see something, say something. Well, I saw something and I’m saying something because it looked like the officer doing the repeated knee to the midsection was abusing someone needlessly.
  • I wish Miss Scott’s donations would inspire more from others with so much.
  • Always searching for something better doesn’t allow you to appreciate where you are, what your doing, and who you’re with.

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The morning images

Took a short ride this morning before the resumption of chores and then work tonight. Overcast and cloudy with brief peaks of sun, but it was really nice just below 70 degrees. I did enjoy it because it was early enough where the cicadas weren’t swarming yet. Plus the roads were deserted for the most part and it was warm enough to have the top-down and the tunes on. Took a bottle of ice tea and relaxed stopping at a few spots for a shot or two.

Sunday mornings are the best. I remember when I rode motorcycles, it was Sundays that were the most enjoyable. I’m going to try to start getting back out in the mornings more. Work has been extra busy so getting off at 6 am the only thing I can think of doing is sleeping. But I’m going to adjust to seeing if I can improve some early morning opportunities and also my rest.

I’ve put together a shooting schedule for the week to try to get myself shooting more. It does have me excited and I hope it’s the start of more regular new work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like I keep misplacing my personal charger.
  • I’m enjoying seeing the joy in people’s faces in doing things together again. Be it a meal or ballgame or movie or trip it’s something that at least for now isn’t taken for granted.
  • A decade or two ago we used to have a phase that we would say when management would pull the plug on resources before projects were finished. It was “declare victory and move on” which I’m sure wasn’t coined there but if it was it was very accurate for some events in history. I just hope we aren’t doing that now with the virus.

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Tempting but no

They are tempting, but no. All the free images out there to choose from and I refuse to use them. Certainly, some and most might be better, but that would take away my inspiration to shoot and write. I don’t even look for inspiration, I like that to come from within.

Another tempting but no is returning to the pace of life before the pandemic. Yeah, it was productive, not always for the right things though.

Always tempting but no, is dealing with pain by taking painkillers constantly. Not that I don’t take one from time to time but I keep it to a minimum.

And as I approach Sunday night which is the beginning of the work week it’s tempting but no, I won’t use a sick day despite having a lot in the hopper.

Of course the daily tempting but no, thought of calling my children. I learned long ago that everyone needs space. But I do love them so and could talk every day.

As I walk back from the fridge I was wishing I could say to myself, tempting but no, when I get thirsty and go grab another Coke.

As I was driving home I saw a nice Vette and wondered, tempting but no.

I’d love another pet. My wife wouldn’t. I’d like to just bring one home, tempting but no.

I could go on, tempting but no.

My better half has the green thumb of course with an assist from Mother Nature.
I just record her work. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes people say things and with no ill intentions at all, kind of infer something difficult in life experiences and don’t realize or reflect that is an exact situation that you yourself experienced or have had to deal with. I’ve had two such experiences recently.

If the body will cooperate, I hope to get out early tomorrow and grab some fresh frames. Maybe even some night shots if I get out there early enough. I do have the tripod by the front door.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The cicadas are louder than sitting over a 13HP motor cutting grass.
  • Some days I feel my age. I prefer the days I feel 30.
  • If you take good mechanical care of things they take care of you.
  • Weekends go by so quickly. Only a few years from the never-ending weekend for this kid.

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Friday Funday

Nothing like seeing your granddaughter after a hard week of work. So far I don’t think her 2’s have been terrible. Actually, a lot of fun, and I love trying to figure out what she is saying. Teaching her new words and other things is a blast. Children make the world a safer place. It reminds us how precious life is. And yet we see such suffering of children daily.

We could do without the rain today but everything needs water. So I’ll accept it and try to make the best of a wet day. Which reminds me I have to put a matt over part of my deck so I have a dry spot outside to sand and carve.

I was thinking about grilling out, but that will have to wait till Saturday or Sunday. The combo of the wetness and not feeling 100% will be the excuse of the day. But I do feel a wave of productivity today and I’ve gotten a good start. I’ve worked on a carving for my Son. I’ve got a number of prints made and I hope to pump out about 40-50 more.

Sausage, peppers and onions. Photo by Mike Hartley

This evening I hope to frame a print my Daughter gave me for my birthday a while back of PaPa and his grandchild but I do have to sort through my pile of frames and mats. Also, I’ll continue to build out my photo site because I found a large stash of stuff I haven’t uploaded yet. So it’s going to be a full evening. I even got both cameras on the tripods set up for some portrait and still life testing later.

So off to the crafts and creation process, which for me is learning at the same time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a new category to add to my retirement list. – Time in Hammock.
  • There are only so many days in a lifetime. Make sure to use the good ones wisely.
  • I’m enjoying the NBA playoffs. I just wish I could stay up and catch the late game.
  • Cooking shows are additive. Food is the drug.
  • I found another advantage of being a grandparent. If they skip their nap I don’t have to deal with the ramifications.

“Taking Time is the only way he knows” TULL

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An early start

There is an old expression I believe saying “burning the candle at both ends.” I was feeling like that at the end of Friday. Not from the day itself but the past few weeks/months. So I went and looked up what Google had to say about it and found this. That phrase was coined by the American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1920. It comes from her poem “First Fig”: “My candle burns at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends– / It gives a lovely light!”

I had fully planned on staying up and just having a few minutes to relax and watch some NBA action, maybe do a post for the day, charge the camera batteries and finish setting up a studio shot. Well, all that went by the wayside when that flame at both ends met in the middle. At least I got a nice night’s sleep but I feel like I didn’t use the time wisely. Of course, that wouldn’t be truthful because my body has been sending me urgent rest signals for a while.

Rest! Photo by Mike Hartley

But Saturday I was back on track. Some hard work in the heat, some celebration with family, some good food, some sports, some shared love. What’s not to like about a day like that?

Well, some might say the HEAT is not to like. Personally, I can’t relate to that because I tolerate higher temps than most and I can cool down quickly. That is why I keep a garden hose outside. I would much rather sweat than shiver. I would rather get in a hot car and put the windows down for a few seconds to air it out than wait 5 minutes shivering for the heater to start pumping warm air and another 5 minutes so you can see through the frozen windshield.

You want to talk HOT. Photo by Mike Hartley

I rarely run the A/C in the car. I ride around the summer with the top-down baking. My favorite outfit is gym shorts and flipflops. I don’t have to spend time putting on layers or boots. If I get wet in the winter I might lose fingers or toes. If I get wet in the summer I say bring it on. If I’m shoveling it’s usually for a few minutes during the summer not for the hours during the winter.

The thought of going out in the cold turns me off while warm temps make the outdoors attractive again. Daylight is short in the winter which is depressing. Warm summer nights with late sunsets and libations in hand. If it rains in the summer no big deal. If it rains in the winter and temps are right you have a disaster.

All I know is I’m celebrating the season I’m most comfortable with. So this fine Sunday morning I think I’ll take a ride and capture a few new images before the chores take hold and starting the job that pays the bills tonight. I hope everyone has a great day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s wonderful to have so many friends. It’s a lot of work keeping up with so many friends. But it’s always worth it.
  • My riding mower makes the noise that attracts the cicadas. A new challenge in cutting the yard.
  • I like making prints for others. Time to increase that activity.
  • I’ve discovered that cicada’s also like the sound of a leaf blower and string trimmer.
  • I love sharing a meal with my whole family. Sharing it out at a restaurant was a special treat. This was a great weekend.

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Memorial Day greetings

Finally a beautiful day on Memorial Day weekend. Too bad I had to sleep through over half of it and work parts of both ends of the day. I did make good use of the few free hours though and it was a wonderful time. Lots of friend’s birthdays, anniversaries, and occasions to celebrate this coming June. The month of May certainly flew by. Here in the northeast, it was a cool May which seemed unusual.

I’m thinking about the balance of this weekend. Far too many forget the sacrifices made too easily and only think of the celebrations, cookouts and time off. We ask very few to really fight for this country. But it wasn’t always that way. Early wars mobilized the whole country. Even those at home sacrificed working for the war efforts.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel that the generations behind me are losing the history of my elders. Very few WW2 Vets are still alive. I saw a stat from March 5th, 2021 that said 300,000 were alive, less than 2%. Those actions, that service, that knowledge is soon to be gone.

I was telling someone how I never got that wisdom from my father. We didn’t have a chance with him passing when I was still young. I did get one message from my Mom about it and that was “war does horrible things to people.” And as I made more and more visits to Bethesda Naval Hospital over the years when I was young and then for her in her later years I’ve seen some of the results. From the ’60s when people maimed returned from Vietnam to the Gulf wars.

So today I consider myself a very lucky man to have been blessed with so many that preceded me who fought for Democracy. Thank you all again for your service. And also to those who serve today of course.

I’m going to be on a mission to capture some memories of a particular time in history at a place I was at soon. Before those people are gone along with the memories of some special times.

But tomorrow I hope to be out and about in the county recording some moments in time to share.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s always fun doing something you thought you might not able to do until that next thing that you thought you could do isn’t working now.
  • Mowing the grass on a Friday prevents having to do it on a holiday Monday. Especially when it rains all weekend.
  • Getting older is about acceptance. Yeah, you can fight against it for a while but time wins.
  • Love can get you through many things.
  • I’m very comfortable with Biden visiting Arlington. I was very uncomfortable with Trump on those grounds.

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Sunday thoughts and actions

It’s time to change up my routine. I’m not getting enough shooting in and unless I make an effort to change that I’m going to continue to be frustrated. Part of it is very easy. I have to take advantage of all the opportunities I already have. Commonly overlooked opportunities.

I’ve got to get out and walk the space. Observe the space and record the space. And when I’m not out and about create inside each day. I need to increase my study in the crafts I’m using. I need to open my eyes to so much around me every minute. That is one of the things I enjoy about photography, it helps me open my eyes and look for things I wouldn’t normally see. And it’s a blessing to have that desire and excitement to look.

Today I headed out to something long overdue. I usually get to visit my parents resting place a few times a year. But this past year I think I’ve only been once and that may be close to a year now. I know tomorrow would be the better weather day to go but I worry after working all night tonight that I might not have the energy to make the journey. Plus most of the ceremonial events are tomorrow and security and crowds await.

I’ve always liked going first thing in the morning on Sundays. The trams don’t start till an hour after opening. Fortunately, their grave is in the middle of the section so I don’t get many people by. Today this gentleman from N.C. strolled by and was looking for the Space Shuttle marker. I told him where I thought it was and exchanged greetings. Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place and a painful one.

Ocean Life Guards – One of my Nephews was an Ocean City Lifeguard for a few years. I see they took to their chairs yesterday morning to kick off the season. Please don’t make their jobs more difficult than it already is. Use common sense. Don’t go in the water drunk. Know your abilities in the water. Heed the warnings posted. Don’t be doing stupid stuff like fighting diverting the attention of the guards away from someone who may be in trouble in the water.

Guard tower at Inlet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lets have a safe summer. One where we get along better than recent examples have shown.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sunday mornings are the quietest of the week.
  • We seem to be entering this nasty pattern where it rains on my days off.
  • Even though sleeping well is the exception instead of the rule, it’s still nice to appreciate those few evenings.
  • Instead of the job sucking the energy out of me this week, I think I’ll turn the tables. Well, one can dream, can’t he?
  • If there is one constant in life it is that – “The rich get richer.”

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Do you feel like a nobody sometimes? I know I do. And that is OK with me. I’m somebody to the people that matter to me. And I don’t feel the need to be somebody to everybody. I’ll leave that to the Kardashians. The type of jobs I’ve had have pretty much been in the background or in the non-glamor positions. Again, I’m fine in supporting roles.

I know how important they are. For instance, a world-famous Editor can take a Pulitzer Writers best story and make it magic, the Design teams can take stunning Picture of the year images and Video with gazillions of views and put that together in award-winning fashion. And all of that doesn’t mean squat if the computer system goes down or the network can’t transmit the pages to the print site or the computer to plate system goes down or the website fails.

I’m fine with being in the background. Photo by Mike Hartley

I take pride in being part of a group of people that keeps the daily and minute-by-minute machines running every day of the year. Doctors may perform life-saving surgery, but it’s nurses who day by day bring people back to health, give them hope and inspiration. Most all professions have many behind-the-scenes people that make it look seamless and easy and repeatable without fail.

If you have ever worked nights, it’s a whole other world that keeps the world we all live in moving, powered, fed, cleaned, and stocked. Many other things also and it’s a world unknown to many. Yeah while you guys sleep.

Anyway, I was just comfortable sitting here knowing that I’m in a large group of company of nobody’s and that is great with me.

And who knows, maybe in my senior years I’ll write a good story or book or take those remarkable photos or videos. But I’m great with the few that follow along today and if that never changes, I’m very good with that. I’d rather affect a few people genuinely than the masses superficially. So back to work I get after my short pause.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I know not posting looks lazy. Really I have been anything but.
  • Yesterday marked 10 years since my Mom left this earth. I miss her. When your parents are gone, alone takes on a new perspective.
  • The Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers dispute is about poor communication. And I understand his position entirely.
  • As the rain started yesterday I stood with my granddaughter and watched the reaction to the drops hitting her skin. As it picked up I said time to go in and she didn’t want to and said “Stay.” I think she might be onto something.
  • Getting older is like going to war. People are dropping all around you.
  • I’ve always tried to vote for the person who I thought was best for the job. Well, that has been modified. I will never vote for any Republican official at any level ever again.

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Starting gun

Starting the week with the right mindset is important. And this week I’m successful at that. A friend was sharing with me how much he dreads Monday mornings. I sometimes dread Sunday nights which is the start of my workweek and have for a lot of years. Sometimes now though it doesn’t bother me or it bothers me more than ever. I think it’s approaching retirement time that either allows me to think this is on the tail end of the long journey and enjoy it, or it puts me into a funk because I can’t dance around the house singing “I Don’t Have to Go TO WORK.”

Far from the productive day, I was hoping to have today, but I did do some editing and made some close friends some prints I think they will like. I’ll see them on Thursday and see if that assumption is correct.

You know sometimes I think my children can sense when I need to see them. And the nice thing is they act on it. Some of us are just fortunate fathers.

So much violence in the news. Maybe the blog post title was a bad choice. I wasn’t thinking of all the shootings over the weekend but it’s ironic. I think I heard a talking head saying that the summer is when gun violence usually picks up. Life is so cheap to some people or holds no value at all.

Honey, I’m taking the Dog for a Walk? Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s interesting the things you learn about yourself along the way in life. Sometimes these lessons are internal but also it’s important to take external ones. Sorting all the opinions out is the difficult part. But I’m good at adapting and making life the best possible, at least in my later years of life I’ve developed that ability.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Getting back to laughing more feels good.
  • Hats off to the inventor of shrimp tacos.
  • I’ve got to start grilling more this week.
  • I hope to start an important project this week. Well several of them now that I think about it.

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Station Break

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

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

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

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

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

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Barefoot pause

One of the things I enjoy doing once the warm weather is upon us is shedding the socks and shoes and going barefoot. Formal attire becomes flip-flops. Well by the looks of my front porch and sidewalk that will be on pause for a bit. I’ve got a cicada convention and it’s just starting. When I mow on Friday I might have more shells and cicada chopped than grass. Yuck indeed.

And it won’t be long till the noise starts. I believe I’ve seen figures of 100 decibels or more. That is friggin loud. Bet it still won’t drown out those roosters in the neighborhood.

Music is the cure. Well, at least it still works for me sometimes. I got to blow the dust off the speakers a bit today because the home was mine. There are times that I miss that but I’m far more glad to have the company. But it’s still nice to be able to cut loose.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Even small levels of power can go to people’s heads and be used for cruel purposes.
  • The 17-year cicada flock is here. This is the first time I’ve had the thought of wondering if I will see them again.
  • Time to explore the county tomorrow. This reminds me I better charge the camera batteries. I have a few projects in mind.
  • We live in a very dangerous world where you could hold up a stop sign and people would argue if it was red or not.

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A call

It was 10 years ago today that I got a call. It was from my Mothers assisted living facility. Not unusual, I’ve been getting calls and updates from them for years. But I could tell the seriousness right away. I was in the car on the way home from work on a beautiful sunny May afternoon and the woman said my Mom wasn’t responding. They tried to stir her and weren’t successful and that she was alive but on her way to the emergency room at our local hospital.

I was very familiar with the emergency room from previous visits but I wasn’t prepared for this. She had a major stroke and was alive but gone. After a few days, the doctors said there wasn’t anything to do and released her to hospice care for another week and a half before she passed. That is a tough memory to let go of because of the time spent with her in those final days. There were so many good times to remember and here I have this vivid memory of those last days.

I was a son who was raised by his mother. We were close. I still look at her picture every day and pause. We all miss so many things in life when our parents are gone. And I’ve learned that time doesn’t much dull the loss. It does allow though for more positive memories. And I keep those throughout the year. And now I have a granddaughter to pass along her many great qualities to. But days like today and later this month are still gut-wrenching at various times of the day. So to all those without parents any longer, may your day be a good one filled with good memories.