THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


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Off and running in May

A flying start to the month, pretty much the whole cycle. One mixed with a little work and a little fun, as all days should be. But also the elation and disappointment highs and lows that life sometimes brings. The work part thankfully is around the homestead. Those winds created quite a mess of sticks, branches, and whole trees. Yep, one of the neighbor’s trees fell onto our yards. Our back yards go into the woods and he doesn’t cut his lower back like I do which is no problem but I’ll have to clear the top part of the tree that is on my side where I still do cut my lawn. I have a few trees in the far lower back that I’ve let go back to mother nature.

There are as many views of how one should take care of their property as there are people. We have a significant variation in this small neighborhood alone. At the entrance to our neighborhood is what I call the Halfway House. As you can see it’s halfway torn down. Rumor says it’s just been sold and I’m guessing someone is going to finish tearing it down and build anew. We have small homes and small mansions along with most things in between. Just across the street from this are million-dollar-plus home homes being built. Not good for me, just going to raise my property taxes.

It’s a mixture of different views, different nationalities, different beliefs, and different perspectives. I was going to say “you know, just like the rest of the world”, but no, it’s not really that way in some areas and that is by design in most cases.

I think I’ll start this as a photo project this week. Homes in the Hood. I need to get out and walk a bit and get that heartrate up so why not elaborate a little more on the diversity and delema I’m faced with next door.

I was hoping to start the week off in good mental and physical shape, hopefully, the body will recover tonight and the PT tomorrow will get me back on track. Mentally we will see but the outlook is not promising. One can’t be on top of the world all the time anyway.

Trees and Clouds in Red

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How does one not move when music is playing?
  • I wonder if those birds of prey circling over me while I mow the backyard know something I don’t?
  • Had a great dinner at Bolder food/drink on Rt 144 near Mount Airy Saturday evening.
  • Setting boundaries can be a good thing.
  • Those days that you feel distant from someone can be unsettling.
  • Sometimes you can send a message without saying a word.
  • Maybe rain on Monday is appropriate.


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Where will the mind wander

A great week so far. I don’t know if it’s just my optimism of some temps in the 80’s here for the first time in many many months. I’m soaking up some rays because I’ve spent some time outside and it feels great. I took a ride in the Miata with the top down for just a little over an hour the two warm afternoons and that really made living worthwhile.

Blooming good ride today. Photo by Mike Hartley

So where will the mind wander? Well on that ride it started out thinking about parents. I took a ride past both my home and the inlaw’s old homes and neighborhoods. That had a nice feeling to it. I would always look forward to visiting both so just that familiar streets gave a sense of calm.

There were some back roads and some highway time put in. There was Main Street in EC and the business district on Rt 40. Some ballfields at Wallace Park and some agricultural fields on Folly Quarter. There were a few exotics out cruising. A few people testing limits flying down Rt 29. I wasn’t in any hurry because it was a total pleasure cruise. And I’m rarely in a hurry now for much of anything.

Perfect weather and a beautiful time of the season for gardens and trees.

Another thing my mind wandered to this fine Friday was my neighbor was going through a Karen episode this past Wednesday. The nice thing though is I couldn’t understand one word of what she said. But she was excited, and still is I believe. She found out where the property line really is and she is very unhappy and from what I could tell still doesn’t believe it. Even after it was all staked out she was trying to tell me where it was. It cost me for the survey, but every penny was worth it just for seeing how pissed off she was.

I guess she wasn’t happy that they have to move one of their homemade building which is on our property. Oh yeah, they have to move their animal pen which is about 10-15 feet into my property over a 30-foot length, and oh, their garden out front into my property about 15 feet also. I started to throw the trash back but told them I wanted it off my yard. I doubt any of this will be done without county intervention which I sought out today.

This has been coming to a head for a long time now and the battle has been joined. Zoning and Licensing/Permits were contacted today. Animal Control gets a call and all the video I’ve shot on Monday about the birds being on the loose every day. This weekend when mowing the front which includes that garden. Also next week I call the EPA about the runoff into the stream behind our home.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nature is surely doing some trimming this day. Luckily we have only lost power once today for a short bit.
  • I’m working on increasing the fun hours of the week.
  • Just lost a fairly large tree out back, the wind snapped it right in half.
  • There is no greater joy than a young child’s joy.
  • I know I’ve been slacking here. Some reasons are good, but for a few days, I’ve been lazy also.
  • I’ve been attending lots of live concerts this past year. Yeah, it’s YouTube videos of my favorite bands playing live, but the feeling is still great. And now with Merriwether opening again this summer it’s time to R&R for real.


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A child’s laughter & other stuff

I had the pleasure of listening to a 2-year-old Friday. My favorite 2-year-old in fact who’s my granddaughter. You really have to listen intently because they are in the process of learning words and meanings. So their pronunciation is just forming and just their excitement at communication gets them going faster and faster which is harder to pick up everything they are trying to say.

The experience of being a grandparent is wonderful and I’m blessed to be within driving distance to both my children’s homes so life is great. I so look forward to watching her each week. We aren’t the full-time support but we take a few days. This is going to be a special year at the beach. She was only 1 last year so it was pretty subdued. This year will be different I’m sure. One she has wheels. Those little legs propel her quickly in whatever direction her mind takes her. The water and sand will certainly get a workout.

Grandchildren are also a good reminder of how fast time moves. I hope I have a lot more healthy years to give them. For I have lots to pass on and many more laughs to share. I guess I should get on the treadmill and get some cardio work.

Some are slow to unravel. Photo by Mike Hartley

Storage shed sorting trip of parents belongings. I find it discomforting and comforting looking through our parent’s things. But that is the task when they pass. Making the calls on what to keep, what to trash, what various people would like as keepsakes. It’s very personal and raises many feelings. Are we doing it to their satisfaction? What would I want to be done with my own things? Are there special things we didn’t know about that will be lost?

It’s close to being cleaned out. Photo by Mike Hartley

Then there is just the discomfort going through someone’s things let alone a parent or loved one. Then there are the emotional pitstops. Those items that stop you in your tracks. Notes from the past, a rosery thought lost, a journal, a favorite hat, or fill in your own treasure here. But there are a great number of them in most cases that will bring tears.

I’m of the belief, that I can change things. That is a rather recent revelation to me. I’ve talked myself out of so many things over my lifetime. I just wished I had these thoughts and confidence earlier in life. I guess it’s just the confidence that comes with time, experiences, and wisdom. I won’t spend time worrying about what could have been different. I’m just trying to do something each day now and it feels great.

I don’t have to fix the world to make it better, most of the time it’s one person or thing at a time, which I hope in turn spreads to others. So take the time to talk to someone or pick up that trash.

TME

Treats from Stella Notte last night were a welcome sight and very tasty. Some stuffed portabella mushrooms with spinach/artichoke and cheese in a wonderful sauce. Some fresh moterzella cheese and tomatos with balsomic vinegrette. Scallops and spinach and the diet killer Seafood Mac and Cheese. This is one of our go-to Italian places along with Facci, Pasta Plus, Anthony’s, and Maggianos. And a shout to a past favorite no longer with us Luna Bella.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Roots that have been dead for 5 years are still tough to extract from the ground.
  • It’s amazing what you can make fit through a doorway.
  • Panara flatbreads are good.
  • The rain didn’t do its job in helping me sleep last night.
  • Any day you can spend with your grown children is a blessing.
  • First time I’ve used some photos I’ve taken from an iPhone. My brain still hasn’t connected the phone and camera combination because I’m so used to picking up a camera.


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I’m hoping

I’m hoping with more time in the future I’ll be able to significantly improve my writing and photography. I see so much inspiring and quality work and I’m hoping that with more time practice and experience I might be able to create something special.

I’m hoping it warms up because I saw snowflakes yesterday morning and I won’t have that in April. Someone forward me Mother Natures’ digits so I can call her and personally voice my complaint. If you don’t know by now, I HATE cold. I despise temps this low in late April. I have an attitude when I step outside and apologize to those in earshot of me for the colorful description of

I’m hoping my better half feels better.

I was on my way home yesterday morning from a Funeral service and stopped by Dunkin Doughnuts at Marriotsville and Rt 99. In the parking lot were a heard of Harley full dressed bikes. And a crowd of black leather individuals outside the entrance. It turned out to be the Motor Maids from New Jersey out for a spin. A group of very friendly women out for a group cruise. They were trying to do a group shot on my way out of DD so I offered to assist and got my camera and snapped a group shot. Thank you for visiting ladies and ride safe.

I was hoping to ride again someday but that wish is fading. Not that I wouldn’t love it but risk-reward balance is tough to justify. I’m not young and cocky enough anymore to think my driving skills can keep me away from every dangerous situation. And with the way people drive now, it’s just not good unless you are in a pack of bikes where people will give you some room because they don’t want issues with a big group of bikers.

I’m hoping as always to leave this world a better place but it appears I have a mountain of work ahead to accomplish that goal.

I’m hoping to get back on track with some better eating habits, exercise and proper sleep. Stop laughing at me.

I’m hoping that the huge number of police, medical and teachers, and other professions under huge stress and fire don’t quit their careers. But I understand and see your pain in these difficult times. We need you and we will step up also. Don’t let what led you to those careers fade away, please.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Writing is a conscious effort that you have to make time for.
  • Wow, I got to see two very old friends today and hug again. Funny how you appreciate that much more now, being they haven’t been in great supply this last year.
  • Eating dinner out for the first time this coming weekend. I wonder what the dress code is on pajamas.


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Printing fun and a mirror

I feel so old school making prints for my kids and friends. I guess I grew up in the time of photo albums, framed prints on the walls, and tables and slides in a projector. But people seem to like them. I guess they could be humoring me but I don’t think so. I enjoy so much sharing family images and videos with them through email. But I make them prints quite often.

Giving a print I’ve noticed gives a different reaction most of the time than online viewing. The most common thing I see is a smile and pause when they look. Even when they are in a hurry, they slow down and look intently at them. They smile and share them with their spouse or say thanks with a smile. I’ve also noticed some people will turn and pause or take a few steps with them. Like some memory or new thought has been triggered. Sometimes they might shuffle through them again and smile.

I make prints because I like seeing my work like that instead of on-screen. I make prints to share my work in my home and office when people visit. I make prints to give in hopes it makes someone else happy. I make prints that someday my kids will hold and have a vision of what their father was seeing. I make prints that my friends will have the shared memories I had of us living and having fun. I make prints that might put a smile on a friend’s face maybe when they need a lift.

I remember the excitement of developing my first rolls of film and pulling prints from the baths that would make the image magically appear. That physical print, be it alone and just with a white border, or in a cardboard frame or a nice glass frame or just taped to the wall or with a pushpin is a thing of great joy for me.

I could inspect prints all day long. Photo by Mike Hartley

I saw a question of the day on Pointless Overthinking asking “what do you see when you look in the mirror.” I see a relaxed smile thanks to my better half, children, grandchildren, and wonderful friends. I see a grey beard that hides a firm jaw from many decades of hard work. I see naturally curly hair that is getting thin in spots but still has the spirit and youthful mindset. I see eyes that look tired and hide the pain. I see a body that is scarred from the surgeon’s scalpels but looks good for its age. I see a nose that loves the smell of food and in the last decade has been holding up the eyeglasses. I see a pair of ears that I always try to encourage to do a better job at listening and not speaking. I see a neck that most mornings sounds like a big truck going down a gravel road till I’ve stretched it out for several minutes. I see legs that have propelled me through life. I see a chest with a heart with a lot more love to share.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You could sense the unspoken tension before the verdict the other day.
  • Like the pollen was having a problem making it to my respiratory system, mother nature thought a 30mph wind would get it all the way up there.
  • Can we continue to make good decisions as a society?
  • I washed my car on Sunday and was so pleased with how clean it was. I took it out for a spin on Tuesday and saw that mother nature was turning it orange.


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Done

Questions answered. It was a weekend that began with a few question marks in regards to the homestead. Would the battery take a charge and would the engine turn on the tractor over if it did? Would I make it through the push-cutting part of the job without a lot of pain? Would the wounded wing behave? Would I be able to spot the box turtle before I hit him?

The answer was yes to all and the grounds look nice. So the season of yard work is off to a strong and successful start this weekend. My better half also does wonderful work with gardens so I’m proud of how the place looks to start this season.

Most all our neighbors use landscaping services. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lots of those big industrial mowers have double the mowing deck size of my old rider of 38″. I’m just happy that after more than 2 decades it’s still starting and finishing the yard strong. But watching those guys descend on the neighborhood got me thinking.

My 2nd mancave. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s interesting to me how the industry has changed. When I grew up everyone cut their own yard or had one of the neighborhood kids do it. And that was a competitive business among the kids. Now companies roll up in trucks and trailers and people not of the neighborhood roll in and in a few minutes have the place cut trimmed and blown.

I had a try at a few of them when I had some health issues for 2 seasons. One was very good and the other was very bad. I wish the neighborhood kids still cut lawns. Then again we don’t live in a big neighborhood but you would think there would be some enterprising youngster around. I guess not because none have made themselves known in many decades.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My car is red most of the year. Except for April and May when it is turned orange by pollen.
  • Hard work feels good. Well, most of the time it does.
  • Beef Brothers on Rt 40, had a really good meal from there. Oh yeah, can’t forget Ernesto’s the week before.
  • Looking forward to accomplishing a lot this week. I at least put the cameras to use this past week for some good family and people images. I hope to keep that going which reminds me, let me go recharge the battery in the Nikon.


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Random thoughts and random thoughts

If anyone could come up with a way to block all unsolicited phone calls and put all types of scammers in jail forever they might be the next Billionaire.

Racism won’t stop till it is no longer passed from generation to generation. Now figure out how to do that on a mass scale.

New ways are needed to feed everyone and have enough clean water if we are going to survive in the future. Either that or war.

It’s not just a matter if new technologies can be developed fast enough to deal with the worlds problems but will we accept or fight them also.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I wonder if the number of telemarketers and scam calls go up because I’m older or that I’m just home to get them now?

As neighborhoods change, some borders that were shared in harmony are no longer. True on a small and large level. But as long as peace talks can be had there is hope.

Despite the cool and cloudy start that sun was beautiful this afternoon.

I’m of the belief that watching grandchildren slows the aging process.

I get the distinct impression some states would rather not be states.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking of a brave individual this day fighting a difficult battle.
  • I got the J&J vaccine. But thankfully too many other things hurt so I can’t worry about blood clots.
  • Logic has been a casualty of the last year or more.
  • We are all one giant ongoing medical experiment. But at least we are trying. Well, most of us.
  • I knew the feeling was going to be wonderful and uplifting when I started to see my best friends again.


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Lasting work

I think of something that is timeless. A song, a story, a movie, a poem, an image. Timeless is unique to all of us but none of us are timeless. Maybe for a generation but not forever like a classic painting or building. And what the hell describes timeless. I mean humans haven’t been around all that long according to some in the fields beyond my knowledge.

If I’m a lucky man I’ll create something timeless for my friends and family. Be it a memory, love, laughter, stories, pictures, or carving/engraving. Maybe I’ll do it and won’t even know it. Maybe I’ve already done it. I hope so because I’ve been working hard at creating memories. Sometimes not always intentional.

Twist and Turns of Life. Photo by Mike Hartley

I certainly know the children will always be the pride and joy of my life. I hope I’ve created a lot of memories for them.

One of my best friends and I were reliving a few memories on the phone today. Having such good friends for over 4-5 decades is a blessing and one that sometimes seems like it may be timeless. Of course, my better half and I are timeless. We will be with each other till we can’t be.

I just remembered that Mother Nature is timeless. Isn’t that a beautiful ending.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It felt good making someone laugh who is having a very difficult time.
  • The rhythm of a great tune can carry you through a day. But a stick shift will put a smile on your face.
  • I really feel much younger than my age now. It’s funny because when I was young I felt much older than my age.
  • My wounded wing is not improving. You don’t realize how much you use your dominant hand/arm till it’s not functioning 100%.


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I was a little lost today

Sometimes you just have to get a better look. Today when I went to open the shed, I found a new friend. Now I’m going to be paranoid about cutting the grass. I’ve never hit a turtle. Came close a few times but luck prevailed. I don’t let my grass get real tall anyway. But it certainly took off the last few days.

Flowers even for the frown. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a wonderful week filled with family visits and as I sit here with only a few minutes to go in the week, I’m a very happy father and husband.

But this week I have to get stepping faster. So here is to picking up the pace. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are few things as loyal as pets.
  • Pets know where the ice cream is kept.
  • I started 4 different posts today and only finished one.
  • Our local snowball stand is open and life is good again.
  • Most of the family is vaccinated, so I’m resting a little easier.


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Innocence

I’m of the age where my friends and I have grandchildren. I’m in awe of a child’s innocence and I see it in the faces of other grandparents. I wish the world could be infected with that feeling. Of wanting to make their world the best possible one. The kind, ripe with opportunity, experiences, and love. One of safety, peace, and people working together. One where life is cherished, and hunger and poverty are the wars fought.

I wish we all would remember the innocence we all had in our youth. Able to find joy in the simplest things. Optimism about the next day and the next 5 minutes regardless of what is happening in the world. Boundless energy accompanied by boundless curiosity.

Well maybe if just a little of that innocence invades my spirit today I’ll be a better person for it. Lets hope for a lot of it.

Color through the clouds. Photo by Mike Hartley

I took a little mental health break the last few days. Collected some thoughts, threw some others away. I shared some thoughts and hid some from others. I remembered some important people and spent some time trying to help some others. I thought about priorities but I wasted a few hours. I enjoyed a sunset and sunrise. A few conversations with my children and some thoughtful emails sent. Movement on some projects and drawing up plans for more. Even though no production was seen here the behind scenes was busy.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s very nice to hear the roar of the crowds again at events. I just hope we hear the roar of all those voices silenced by the virus saying be careful.
  • A few days of rain won’t dampen my spirits.
  • If you’re having a tough day – Insert Music.
  • The earlier you rise the more opportunities there are.
  • It’s funny when people decide they just don’t have time for the family anymore. Well, let me choose a better adjective. I think sad, might be the better choice.


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Guarded optimism

Having got our vaccine shots on Friday, I still have a sense of guarded optimism. I didn’t think about it much in just waiting for the vaccine, just tried to be as safe as we could. But the thought of just going out and being in large crowds is somewhat an uncomfortable thought.

Plus I believe I have to wait about 2 weeks for it to build the things in my body to make it less severe if I do catch it. With the numbers continuing to rise again I worry for others and encourage everyone to get the vaccine. I was skeptical of flu shots for years and then I started getting them over a decade ago. It hasn’t caught every year but most have been good. And I hope science will protect us again. Having spent time in hospitals for other things, my goal is to stay out of them as much as possible.

So back into society slowly but at least my spring and summer are looking up. I guess we now wait to hear how long these shots are effective for and when the next one will be needed. That’s not a complaint, just a wonder? Actually, I should be feeling good but with the CDC and officials throwing up big warning flags of another spike I have guarded optimism.

Another tragedy at the Capitol with an officer killed and one injured. Then again there is one every day, almost in every town be it an officer or citizen. So much hate in the world and these events just keep coming. It’s hard at times to stay hopeful and optimistic. But those are the things we have to do and find ways to combat this senseless slaughter.

Changing of the Guard. Photo by Mike Hartl

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hid Easter Eggs in the yard for the first time in 3 decades. It was great watching them being found by my granddaughter.
  • I thought about it this weekend but decided next weekend will be the first cut of the yard this year. So let’s hope for rain.
  • A few good photo opportunities didn’t sneak by me today.
  • I wonder if I had been a reader all my life if I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I do now.
  • A family is like a play. Full of characters, sometimes very joyous, sometimes very sad, sometimes both within the same play.


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Long time gone

I was listening to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, this morning and the song (Long Time Gone) played live at a concert. It got me thinking about time.

Time is a gift, time can be a torcher. Time flies, time crawls. Time to each of us is unique. Time to plan to act, or no time is given and just reaction time allowed. It seems like everywhere you go it’s a different time. People can have a wonderful and horrible time at the same event. Time is appreciated and disrespected. Time is a gift each of us has but can be a gift to someone else also. Time is something you don’t think about much till you realize that it is finite. And then again it seems infinite also.

I was thinking about a time the other day when a very sick friend came to mind. I remember being faced with some hospital time and recovery time which he is experiencing now. That time drove me nuts. I’m not one to want to just sit still and let my body heal. I don’t know which was worse, the pain or not being able to do much. I was recounting looking through my family room window looking out at the people I had to hire to cut my yard. The first time I hadn’t been able to do it and it drove me insane. A task I never really liked much except that I do like a nice-looking yard. From that day forward I have been nothing but happy and appreciative that I have my health, that I’m alive and can do it again. My neighbors must think I’m a little nut because I smile while walking and sitting behind the mowers or raking.

His struggle also reminds me to love each day and everything around me. Those messages were sent loud and clear each time I’ve faced a health issue but I get lazy and fall into old habits. I don’t want to do that because that means I’m wasting time, don’t have the right attitude and I’m not living life to the fullest.

It was Giving Day at Jersey Mikes on Wednesday and I love their subs and I love giving to charities. So the misses and I ventured up to Eldersburg. Mmmmm, Cheesesteak subs. Didn’t even bother me that it was raining the whole time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The difference between concerts now and back in the day. We had our hands in the air also but they weren’t holding cell phones.
  • I’ve really got to clean up my drafts folder. Also my office.
  • Take the time to do something for someone who needs your support.
  • The greatest blessing is good family and friends.


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No more

No more excuses for not doing what I want. I have the opportunities and I just need to utilize then.

I would like to be able to say I’m strong enough to say no more Cokes. But I’m not so I cut it down to 3 a day. I know that still seems like a lot but when you can polish off 6-8 with no problem that is progress.

There are no more, just another day, in my life

TME

This year its no more thinking about going to the beach, it’s getting in the car and going to the beach.

No more sitting at a ballgame. Remember that youthful spirit.

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

I have reached a breaking point with my neighbors. Their place looks like hell, it smells like hell, and it’s noisy as hell. And for the umptieth time, their livestock is loose in the neighborhood. At one count today I had 8 roosters and chickens in my back yard. They were out in the court, they were in another neighbors yard. Well, I’ve heard sorry so many times it doesn’t mean anything anymore. And that is all I’ll say about that and no more.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope to participate in Jersey Mike’s day of giving on Wednesday this week.
  • Tuesday is Doctors Day. I’m thankful for my primary physician and my cancer doctors at UMMC. Which I will donate to later this morning.
  • There are only so many minutes in a day and there are only 10 left in this one so I better hit publish soon.


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Good and bad

I always feel good when I have utilized a day well. I may have overutilized the body though. But that always happens coming out of winter hibernation. I might get less exercise than a bear sleeping all winter. Well not really but the change in types of chores registers quickly.

Anytime I make my way back to the lower hill the calves and thighs get a workout with that steep incline. Just working the stiffness out of the long idle muscles used for bending over picking up a million sticks or weeding. Maybe that repetitive raking. Or the dead lift of big bags of mulch. I’m just glad it felt good to do while I was doing it.

Before and after. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a nice day out and I spent a lot of it outside. A little cloudy late afternoon but dry. Today looks less promising. A day for the inside task. I had the printer rolling this morning and cranked out about a dozen prints. Also hung a few framed ones. Progress is slow but steady.

The job that pays the bills will start shortly and the weekend will be behind me again. I got to thinking and I’m down to far less than 200 work weeks ahead if all goes well. That is a manageable number but one that still looks like a long way off. Hopefully, I’ll have some time for my personal pursuits as well. If so I hope to show some of the efforts here.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I’m finding it easier for my purchases at hardware stores to get ahead of my ability to get the projects done.
  • I miss the days of walking down the drive of the family homes we grew up in.
  • And I really miss the people that raised us in those homes.
  • Nothing like a warm cinnamon bun being delivered to you as you write the morning blog post.


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Little time but productive

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

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

Anyway it felt good to help a bit.

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

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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


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Going Green

Spring is ready regardless if I am or not. With the return of the nice weather, we have to mix in the outside work into the weekly mix. And that is no small task out here in spacious Woodstock. No, I don’t have an estate but I do have an acre of land. Well, I guess someone in an apartment might consider it an estate but it’s not.

Walk through the gate and you find yourself mowing grass. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not rich (in cash terms) so I can’t hire a yard service. Or the guys to do the landscaping or fill in the ruts from some erosion. There are a few big trees that I’m going to have to have dropped but we will cut them up and haul them. There are a half dozen major projects we have to do this year. Like that hole in the ground that used to be a pool. That will be filled in soon.

I believe next weekend is the mulch delivery and the weekend after that will be the tons of fill dirt. That cart and tractor are going to get a workout. Hope that 2 decades old John Deere keeps starting up.

Nice cut. Photo by Mike Hartley

All of that is OK for now. I’m still up and about and I hope to keep it that way for a good number of years. I had a longtime neighbor who worked out in his yard well into his 80’s. And to be honest I hope it helps keep me healthy if I’m smart in how I go about it, I believe it will help me.

Accomplishments abounded yesterday till the shoulder and back decided to put a halt to activities and for me to get horizontal for a while. I didn’t think picking up a few trash cans full of sticks or vacuuming the fleet of vehicles from their winter waste would start the pain but it did. Oh, I know what it was, cleaning those gutters did it. Regardless, forward we go. All I had to do was think about someone I know who is not doing well and the suffering he is enduring to feel like I’m on top of the world again, at least mentally.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’d like to run electricity into my new shed. Of course, I haven’t even broached the topic of a new shed yet.
  • Each year I have to look up which cable to take off the mower battery first when removing and then which one when installing. I think I’ll write it on the shed wall this year to save myself the time.
  • Life is tough even with a good family support system. I have trouble thinking about what it would be like without it.
  • Sometimes people give a lot more than 100% of themselves but don’t give themselves the credit for it.


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Tip-off

Yes, it’s that time of year for the mother load. A basketball junkie’s dream. More bounces of the ball than the eye can keep up with. One and done. You lose you go home. Tension to the max every game. Kids’ dreams being realized. And at the same time, huge fan bases crushed.

And as I rose this morning I was distressed to see the usual crap that ruins a great contest like this. Overzealous people losing complete perspective and sending these young athletes crushing messages and threats. And when I say Overzealous I mean F’ing idiots who should serve jail time for making threats like that. So, way to go Ohio State fan, you have shown what the problem is for a lot of Universities who haven’t sent the right message to their fan base that that is unacceptable behavior.

Remember people, “IT’S JUST A GAME”. Come on, I’m a huge college basketball fan. Been going to Maryland games since the mid-’60s. I live and die with this team each year. But I think we need to start standing up to these people when we see and hear them. Or report them if we see social media comments that are threatening or wrong or mean-spirited.

College sports are a wonderful thing. A fairly closely matched age group. Young men and women learning new teammates and systems and competing at the highest level of skill while getting paid NOTHING for the pleasure of doing a sport they love. Yeah I know some of you will question the “play for nothing” and you are right in some cases but it’s still the closest thing you can get to a highly competitive game with great skill in a group that isn’t professional. And the way tournaments are done the drama can’t be matched.

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

Like yesterday when we said this game is over, it’s going to take a miracle for Va Tech to win. Down by 3 with 7 seconds left and the other team shooting 2 free throws to ice the game. I then said it’s going to take 3 miracles for this to happen. I said he is going to have to miss both free throws and then they have to hit a game tying 3 pointer, to send it to overtime. And then they flashed what the player shot for the season at Free Throws 52% and we all had a head tilt. And then he missed the first. And then he missed the second. And Va Tech rebounds gets down the court and swisch, tie game and OT. And I was wrong also. They needed 4 miracles, because they lost in OT. But talk about your excitement.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The handshake and hug are not things of the past.
  • A very special day that puts a huge smile on my face for a very special loved one.
  • On the verge of being eligible for the vaccine feels like a comforting thought.
  • At least once a day you should feel like you’re living life “balls to the wall.” It might be just listening to a classic song and dancing to maybe putting your right foot on the accelerator a little more than normal. Maybe just stepping outside at night and howling at the full moon. Start a new hobby. Do something to make yourself feel alive.
  • Wow, a post before lunchtime. Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf.

After I saw some comments to the player that was targeted I saw a reply from a speech by former president Teddy Roosevelt, I had never read but its fitting.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


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Recovery

I’m finding it takes longer to recover from the workweek. It’s different than the past. It didn’t seem to take a physical toll before. Not that I should complain. One of my best friends is still doing very physical work into his mid 60’s now and what he deals with is punishing. But I’m still tired and my body doesn’t seem to just tolerate it anymore.

It seems to me life is about recovery. Be it a hard night of partying or stress or toll from a job. People are all the time recovering from personal loss. Recovery from tragic events from Mother Nature or just a long drive home after a long day at work. Recovery is constant if you’re trying to move forward. For that takes energy and devotion and strength. All of which need time to recover.

The wind is coming Friday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sleep is one method. Unwinding with friends. Dinner night with your significant other. Maybe sitting in front of the TV with it watching you instead of the other way around. Reading a book, or going for that run. We all know these things but we get out of practice. Sometimes slipping into bad habits.

For instance, looking at grief. This is a very individualist type of matter. Everyone grieves differently and even for different periods of time. And yes it’s OK to grieve forever. I will never stop missing my parents just like most people in the world. I will miss pets I’ve had forever. But grief not balanced can be difficult to recover from.

Some are recovering their whole lives. Think about injured soldiers who have to live with huge struggles. Or the children born with defects in their bodies. All the people recovering daily from fighting cancer and other huge medical battles.

I’ll always be a recovering alcoholic. I spend time trying to recover my youth going for a spin in my little go-cart of a car. I’d love to recover some more time with my children when they were young. Sometimes going to my parent’s grave is a form of recovery.

I spend all day having random thoughts and then try to recover them when I sit down to write. I spend time going through old family things in hopes of recovering some heirlooms. I hope to recover from this dry spell of posting infrequently and recover an audience. But then again I blog for my own sanity and therefore I’m recovering some of the brain cells I seem to be losing.

It’s a shame we aren’t more kind to each other because we are all recovering from something each day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Days you feel creative are really fun. When you get a chance to act, it’s even better.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a day free of insurance and drugs to fix whatever ails you, commercials?
  • China Taste never disappoints.
  • The more birthdays that are more special than your own are a good indication of how rich you are.
  • Thinking I’d like to finish more things than I start tomorrow.


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Appreciate

I’ve been fighting a few small injuries of late. But a couple of things are making me feel very appreciative of the health I have today. One is for a grandson of a brother from another mother as he likes to say. Kids facing medical challenges are just the toughest thing a parent and grandparent can face. The second one is an old co-worker who is fighting some very tough cancers. The third was a sister from another mother who was in the hospital. All these recent events make me give thanks that my family is good today and that I can easily move on from a few aches I have.

It also gives me the desire to think about these people regularly, to wish for their comfort both mentally and physically, and to check-in or act on something. And I think that something being I can’t see them is to make a charitable donation or two.

I’m blessed that life has always found a way to remind me to be appreciative of the health I have every day. When I was young and my father’s last stations at Bethesda Naval Hospital I saw troops coming back from Vietnam and going through surgeries and recoveries. I’d see these young men walking through the halls or in gurneys with nurses that had been maimed badly. And I remember my Mom holding my hand saying always remember there is always someone worse off than you.

Counting on a good week ahead. Photo by Mike Hartley

It reminds me of a time a few years ago when I was feeling down. I was getting radiation treatments after the surgery didn’t get all the cancer. This young girl maybe 5 or 6 years old, hooked to a mobile tree of medicines hanging from it running into her sat across from me before we were called in for our treatments. She was so happy despite this. She had obviously been treated for a while already because her hair had gone but she was as proud as you can be. She was with her mother and she was so polite with her. She never stopped smiling. I wanted to say hello and ask her name but she was so busy with her Mom that I didn’t want to interrupt.

The courage of the child, enjoying life despite what looked to be very big challenges was something I will never forget.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Every day I spend more time about thinking how to help others than myself, the happier I am.
  • Congrats to my daughter’s alma matter Mount St Mary’s for getting to the Dance.
  • I was letting isolation get the best of me lately but I’m snapping out of it.
  • Working with wood is fun. I got a lot close to finishing a piece today.


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Creating each day

I look forward to the day I can spend more time writing, carving, photographing every day. But in the meantime, I’ll do my best to utilize what little time I have. And the coming days are ripe with opportunities. I’m starting today with a few hours of shooting after a 10 am meeting.

Yeah, it’s College Basketball season so there are priorities. Not much trumps my artistic endeavor’s but the Terps playing got my full attention the last two days. Thankfully I was off and caught both games live.

That’s right, March Madness is upon us, and while it’s not the same it is a victory they made it this far.

Yes, it’s about money for both the NCAA and networks, but I always look at it from the kid’s perspective. It’s the highest level most will achieve in their lifetimes in a sport. It is a special time that teaches them many lessons along the way. The team is one of the important ones. Also hard work. I salute the Coaching staff and kids. We will probably see some great creativity in the next 3 weeks.

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

I see Duke will probably miss the dance for the first time in 24 years. That is a nice run. And speaking of Duke (the most hated Maryland foe for decades) I believe the Michigan team now holds that current ranking. With Michigan State running second. Anyway, it should be an exciting event if people can stay healthy. And that is still a big if, even though it’s been impressive they have played so many games this year already.

Even watching it this year will be different. This is usually a big gathering of my friends. Sometimes we spend the first two days of the NCAA Tournament watching about 24 hours of basketball, gorging ourselves and laughing and cheering and sometimes dying as our teams might go out. Well while that might not be the case this year at least we have something to view, unlike last March Madness which was canceled. I just hope for the safety of all involved and for the University of Maryland to play and do well.

Friday I got some wonderful shots of my granddaughter. It has inspired me to shoot more today. I spent an hour or so making prints from that visit and her birthday. I’m old school, I like prints. Think I’ll see what I can find around the county today when I venture out and about

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Selection Sunday (NCAA basketball tournament selection show) is really like your belly button. Your either an inny or an outy.
  • Given the current state of elderly care and being somewhat close to it makes me very nervous.
  • I wish the rest of my body would feel as young as my heart does.
  • I have a wonderful family which makes everything else I face in the world manageable.


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Flipped

I had shorts on earlier today. The first time this season where I could step outside comfortably. And as is usual for March I’ll probably have to put them away for a week or so before the warmth returns. It’s just like that in this month. NIce one day and then cold the next.

I’ll take it though, the nice weather that is. I will allow a gathering of my best friends tomorrow outside for a quick Happy Hour. And for that, I’m thankful and excited about it. A few months have passed since we all gathered and flipped the laughter switch in person. It should be a hoot.

Also tomorrow I sense a top down day on the convertible. I haven’t been out for a joy ride in some time. Maybe my better half will keep me company and travel some back roads and soak up some sun together.

Another fun bumper sticker. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The past 4 days have taught me the importance of the calf muscle. Who knew mobility depended on them so much?
  • I’m glad music still causes me to get to my feet. But some of the gyrations I used to do I have to be careful of now.
  • Old is a state of mind that can be overcome. Unless your body disagrees and reminds you who is in charge.
  • Bags of jelly beans should come with a warning label not to eat in less than three sittings.
  • Getting into my Miata reminds me of jumping into a go-cart seat in my youth. Getting out of my Miata reminds me I’m a few pounds over optimal weight, have a bad knee and bum shoulder, and over 60.


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Chilling

It was a bit chilly outside this Friday and Saturday. The wind chill is significant. I’m a little bit chilled out after my physical Friday. I really enjoyed chilling with my granddaughter. What a wonderful chilled day. A few more days of chill ahead and then warmer temps.

Frozen in inactivity. Photo by Mike Hartley

And warmer temps will bring us all outside. And the park we visit will begin to thaw and accept the crowds again. Let’s all be chill with each other as we gather again. Share a path and a smile. Oh yeah, you can’t see the smiles anymore, maybe a wave or head nod to each other.

Centennial Park. Photo by Mike Hartley

Life was teaching me a few lessons the last day or two so that is why I’ve been absent without leave. I learned my furnace and A/C are getting near the end of life after this last repair. Seems like it was just yesterday I was paying for new ones. It’s actually been over 2 decades so that isn’t bad. I’ve been lucky that we have been able to endure things like that. So many people struggle to make ends meet month to month. A lot of time due to no fault of their own. Life is tough for a great deal of the population. I think I’ll find a way to help someone or a few people today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m hard on myself on how I use my time. But that is in hope that I make better use of it the next day.
  • I love the smell of bacon on a weekend morning.
  • If you laugh and pause and laugh again at a Dilbert cartoon it reminds you of your job.
  • My doctor reminded me that regular checkups are part of remaining healthy. And in looking at my life they certainly have prolonged it a few times. So I encourage you to get to the doctor if something is ailing you or if it’s time for your annual checkup.


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Driving

It made no sense till it was explained. I was looking at a report from CBS News on traffic deaths this past year. It seemed to be saying driving deaths increased last year during a pandemic when people were driving less. And it seems to be something I noticed a while back when the roads got empty. If there were people out, they were flying. So the open roads increased our speeds. There you go. Face it, most people can’t handle speed. They don’t do it often enough to have control of it. Horsepower in cars far exceeds most driver’s capabilities and as someone in the report noted our cars aren’t crash-safe at 100mph. I noticed that in the 1980’s when I was riding motorcycles. They were at the time going through a performance revolution and the bikes were more capable than the driver’s abilities.

Check out the bumper sticker. Photo by Mike Hartley

It proves a long-held theory of mine that speed kills. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go fast. I don’t do it much at all now. And not the kind that where I’m going in and out of traffic on highways. That was never my idea of good driving. Maybe just a quick sprint from a light on a divided highway to the speed limit and that is about it. I don’t have any horsepower machine to do anything crazy. As alluded to there were times in my youth where stupid chances were taken. My circle of friends all loved muscle cars and I had a mild one myself for a bit before I switched to two-wheel performance.

Driving a vehicle is like owning a gun and using it. It must be done responsibly.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I know why Texas canceled their mask mandate. They need them to filter their water to drink.
  • I see today is the National Day of Unplugging from our electronic devices. I say if you need a specific day of the year to do that you are already way out of control. Try practicing it often, life is a lot more enjoyable that way.
  • Life in the Fast Lane is just a good song, not an inspiration to stay out there.


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Go with the flow

I believe I can see the difference in the flow of water when it’s cold. No not frozen but just cold vs the middle of summer. It looks like it’s moving slower. Probably just my imagination. I know I don’t move as well in the cold so that’s my logic and I’m sticking to it. I felt like taking a ride today and had an errand to run anyway so it was good to stretch my legs for a few minutes and grab an image or two.

Keep on flowing. Photo by Mike Hartley

I keep peaking ahead at the long-range forecast and next week is looking like something that might draw this bear out of hibernation for the year. I think I’ll put my better half in the passenger seat and explore a bit again if it does warm up next week. I hear tomorrow is looking good also so maybe a walk in that new plush neighborhood across the street. I saw some new gates at the entrance, they weren’t closed but I’m wondering what might be to come. I believe it’s a county road so not sure that is possible. He with money anything is possible. Greed and excess make me sick.

A shot from Journey from Junk in EC. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m ready for some hot summer nights.
  • If you’re not looking for more time in the day you’re not living.
  • If I’m at peace with myself there is a lot less turmoil to start the day.
  • Really missing a lot of friends. We talk, we zoom but we don’t do the things we used to.
  • You learn about the effectiveness of your insulation when your furnace goes out.
  • Don’t get lost in planning retirement. Just make it there and live it up.


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Rain

Today I learned who wrote “Into each life, some rain must fall” and that was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from the poem “The Rainy Day”. I was thinking of that line for two reasons. It was raining all Friday night and morning. It’s raining again today. It’s going to rain tomorrow and maybe on Wednesday.

I’m also thinking of some people I’ve been talking to that are fighting cancer. Some holding their own and some not. That is the kind of rain I believe he is speaking of. Something bad and difficult happens to everyone in life. It might not seem like it but that is pretty much the rule I’m thinking.

Uncle – I’ve had enough rain. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I went in search of rain photos I had and I’m woefully out of stock of personal images. The only ones I found that I liked were above at a gas station and below shot of my neighbor’s sunflower patch. So what an opportunity to reverse this limited selection and see what this inspiration and coming days of wetness can bring.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

So I got busy thinking of how to illustrate rain. The good old umbrella images I guess. People running with them or rain bouncing off of them. If it were summer I could find a spiderweb with raindrops on it. Maybe droplets in a puddle? Or road spray from cars and trucks. Rain rolling off gutters or running down cars exteriors. Maybe someones pet with a raincoat out for a walk or boots in a puddle.

But these seem so obvious and probably done better than I can so I’m trying to think of something different to represent rain. I’m not sure what it is or if I’ll accomplish it but there will be time to practice it this week it appears. Here is my first shot from this Saturday morning below attempting to do something different. Then again, all of my work seems to have holes in it. Ha Ha.

The patio table reflecting the woods behind the home during Saturdays morning rain. Photo by Mike Hartley

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I kind of like rain. Don’t get me wrong. I love sunshine and warm temps but I’m not into desert conditions.
  • I think I hear the grass in the yard starting to wake up.
  • I’m going to have to write a book of expressions related to trying to stand up or sit down some days.
  • My new bookcase looks good. Now my goal is to read everything in it.


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Warmth

Opening the door and stepping out to the porch and soaking in 60-degree temps (the warmest day of the year so far) on Thursday was a revival of sorts for me. It allowed me to drift ahead in my mind of being outside regularly again. Soaking in sunshine and nature and life again is on the horizon. It gave me hope. Winter is depressing to me. A struggle to power through but we’re almost there.

Life sure has a schedule of its own and I’m trying my best to adjust but I’ve missed time here again. I’m trying to not let that bother me but it does. Sort of like a day without something that matters to you. Not that I haven’t been busy and productive with other parts of life but just not so much here behind my eyes.

warmth Photo by Mike Hartley

Today though, I got that special warmth from my granddaughter. The first PaPa of the day and her laughter warm my heart. I love being able to make her laugh. She’s going to be 2 years old soon so she’s like a wind-up toy. Sit her down and she’s off. She makes me smile all day long. Even when she is napping with me or my better half.

So it’s a great start to the weekend both weather-wise and attitude-wise. I hope to pick up the cameras in the next few days and get something fresh here to post. I’ve been reading a book on photography and learning a little more about my camera each day. Now I just have to practice and keep learning.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I finally asked myself why am I paying so much for car insurance when I don’t drive the number of miles I used to? My agent is going to be asked that same question on Monday.
  • I’m discovering the joy of reading. Who knew there were things other than technical manuals.
  • Sometimes I dream of what I can do with the 50 hours a week I spend at work and using them on creative and fun interests and of course grandchildren.
  • No matter how tight I get the top on, it seems the Krazy Glue and Gorilla Glue always go bad before the bottle is finished.
  • Working with a broken pair of reading glasses today isn’t optimal.
  • The lies being spread this weekend are a prelude to more violence to come.


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So many choices

Sometimes I sit and smile for a moment when starting to create the blog post for the day. And that smile is because of the “Add title” line at the top of the page. That seems so open and inviting. It’s an invitation for anything and endless possibilities. Most days it’s my first thought of reflection or anger or love or aches or success or maybe just waking up. Other days it’s my last thoughts of the day before I start the night’s work or maybe it’s my lunch break before midnight and a final edit or rewrite takes place.

A lot of days I feel thankful to have the opportunity to express some thoughts and images. Others I use to work out conflicts in my mind or reflect on the feelings of a good day. Maybe the experiences of watching a grandchild during the day, all the way to a man entering his senior years who doesn’t sleep well. I can’t believe I just said that. I feel like I’m just getting started in life in some ways and Father Time is telling me different and I’m feeling cheated.

I think you missed a spot guys. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I take each opportunity each day a little more special now. Constant reminders about the frailty of life either inspire appreciation or carelessness. I’m not saying carelessness in a bad way either. Maybe carefree would have been a better term. Someone in their 90’s going skydiving for the first time comes to mind.

I’m glad that blank title line doesn’t have an intimidation factor that stops some. Long ago I opened my mouth and as the famous quote goes “Better remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt” so everyone knows now so there is no hiding it. Which in a way is nice freedom. I read so much well-written stuff and it inspires instead of intimidates now. I see beautiful images and art in others that my senses are challenged to see if someday I could make something like that or better.

Some days I write because it makes me feel good. Some I write to try to make others feel good. Sometimes I write because I’m confused or perplexed. Sometimes I’m writing when I should be sleeping. Maybe to some, it seems like I am sleep writing. But now I’ve run out of time to write so I’ll have to look forward to tomorrow’s excitement.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m working on disproving the theory you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • If the freezer weren’t so small I wouldn’t have to eat the ice cream so fast.
  • I’ve shoveled the 3 “S’s” of Winter. Snow, sleet, and slush. I declare winter over.
  • Almost time to remind my local O’s fans that the Yankees will dominate again this year.


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Please clean your ice off

Yesterday my Daughter and family were on their way to our home when a sheet full of ice flew off the SUV in front of them and crashed through the windshield. Thankfully they weren’t hurt. It was lucky she was in the back seat with the baby because there is where it hit hardest, shattered and caved in the window on the passenger side. My Son in law was hit with glass but is good. Thankfully he maintained control and didn’t crash.

Yes, there is no law in this state (Maryland) that mandates you clean your roof off, but just like masks have the common courtesy for others and clean your car or truck or SUV off before heading out, please. I know it’s a pain in the butt. I know it’s difficult to reach. Stop thinking about it and just make it part of your routine in cleaning the vehicle. I’ve sat here today feeling so blessed that didn’t turn out worse and I will probably think about that for days. Maybe everyone needs to have a loved one’s windshield shattered while driving to get this done. Nah, we’ve already proven there are a lot of people in this world who just don’t give a damn about anyone else but themselves. A nasty and sad element of our society.

Just a little ice on my trees. Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling better this fine Sunday so life is good. Of course, that is also true when I’m feeling bad. Like yesterday when I got to see my children but was still in a bit of pain from Friday’s battle with a few inches of frozen tundra. My children and their children are an easy fix for whatever ails me. But what about when I can’t see them and improve my feelings?

I’m doing better at finding those things. The more I do the better I feel. Made them a couple of nice prints and framed them. I started a few other pieces that I need to finish up and give to them and get going on some others. I’ve got a long list of people I’d like to make something for. So I had better get busy and keep at it. Time to do those things are precious so do them right.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m really trying to be smarter about eating but knowing now it takes thought and discipline. But it’s a worthwhile goal.
  • One of my best friends got a new Ford pickup. Now I have a second that can carry my Miata in their truck beds if I need.
  • I rise too early in the day when I have to work all night.
  • It feels good to do some reading. I’ve been catching up on some blogs and a book.


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On the edge

I look at the events in Texas and think to myself that none of us are far from similar situations. We are all dependent on basic utilities for the most part. Yes some of us might have generators but how much fuel do we keep on hand? Just about everyone is on a municipal water supply, except for those of us out in the country living on wells.

How much food do we keep in stock, maybe a few days, a few weeks? Do you have emergency medical supplies? Where would you go if your home was no longer livable? Do you have emergency funds if ATMs are down? How much water do you have stored up? There are a million and one things to think about that we take for granted that are at our disposal in normal circumstances.

Power lines off New Cut Rd. Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t spend my days or even hours fretting about this stuff but I am adjusting my plan as events around the world and country show what can happen when not prepared. I would say we have been more prepared than most who also live paycheck to paycheck. We keep at least a couple of week’s worth of food and probably could say a month a lot of times with a little conserving. My better half keeps a nice supply of bottled water.

But I have holes in the plan. The small generator I have won’t power much. I don’t have it tied into the panel so the well pump still isn’t powered. I don’t have a really good supply of fuel as a backup. I used to have a pool so water for flushing toilets was there but no longer being I’m filling up that hole in the ground (alias Money pit) so the water becomes more important. So getting my backup power and tied into the panel so water can also be had is the first step.

Power along Carroll Mill Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

I know all these things because I live in the sticks. Well, the sticks surrounded by sprawling suburbs of cities so our power has had some difficult years if not brutal ones with multiple days and sometimes weeks of outages. Most weather-related of course but not always. I’ve lost count of the times it’s gone out for 3-7 days at a time. But knock on wood, we have been on a good roll here in northern Howard County.

Anyway, it was just a thought about being more prepared. I know it’s not cheap. But when those things aren’t available it can be painful and dangerous. In a lot of cases, the generosity of others carries the day through. But what happens if everyone is in the same boat?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you can’t open your car door because it’s frozen shut, it’s hard to think about going anywhere. And I’m cool with that.
  • Any day that starts with bacon grilling, can’t be all bad.
  • Greed erodes morals.
  • Digging through that ice did a number on my back. I don’t mind shoveling snow but that was wrong.
  • I have a taste for BBQ.
  • I vow to get my email inbox under control.


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Frozen in time

The last few days I’ve felt kind of frozen in time and thought. Always lots to think about in life but there are times where I just need to pause and regroup. I guess these past few weeks have been a mixture of that. I’ve managed to keep the professional life unaffected but my ability to relax and just create and write wasn’t. I still don’t know what I’m doing or where this post is going. I know I’ve been shorter with people than normal. Apologies to my better half at least and to a dear friend.

And you think its cold where you are. Photo by James Hartley

I know I shouldn’t be like this. Usually, I’m good at kicking what ails me mentally in a day. And in recent years my down days are few and far between thankfully. But the last few weeks I’m good a day and then I’m in suspended animation again. Lost in debilitating thought. I remember the years this was a constant struggle and war. And this period of thought instead of action reminded me of the old days.

And it’s not complete inaction. Each day I haven’t published a post, I’ve started one and created some lengthy ones. But I wasn’t satisfied with them and ran out of time that day. It’s not like I haven’t picked up the camera but what I’ve taken I haven’t been pleased with. And both of those go to my mental state. Well, I’m feeling better tonight so maybe we can string a few good days together and then a few good weeks, and then I’m off on a good roll into spring.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I just like listening to instrumental music.
  • I had my first meatball sub in ages last night. I think this evening is round 2.
  • Sometimes I think I do this so my kids will know what I’m thinking.
  • Not knowing what my own father ever thought is torture.
  • Doing something helps me figure it out along the way.

Photography Assignments of the day – this way if I make my goals known I’ve got some more accountability. Or at least guilt myself into keeping some kind of pace going.

  • Frame two-family collages I made for my children.
  • Think about different ways to shoot snow tomorrow.


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Dropping in

Where did I go? I don’t know because I feel like I’ve been working hard here but nothing to show for it. I started a post each of the last two days but wasn’t satisfied with either. They will be seen, they just need more work and thought. So in the meantime, I thought I’d pop in with a picture and some wishes.

Hopefully some melting today before tomorrows new coating of ice here in the great state of Maryland.

A Valentine’s wish. How do you make the happiest man on earth happy? I don’t know about the rest of you happiest men on earth but I’d be overwhelmed if I could spend the remaining time in my life hand in hand with the one that has been by my side the last 4+ decades making me one of the happiest men on earth.

A Political wish. I hope I don’t witness the end of Democracy in my lifetime.

A Weather wish. I would like that polar vortex to move its behind back to where its supposed to be cold.

A Work wish. I hope I can enjoy, savor and appreciate all the tasks and things I do in my job because I’m sure I will miss some of it when I retire in a few years.

A Health wish. If you spend your time in concern for the health of others, if you spend your time helping those you know or don’t know with their health, if you contribute monetarily in any way to improve the life and health of someone, you will be healthy of heart and mind.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Snow is a good thing for figuring out how many animals are marching around your yard while you are sleeping.
  • Adapting = if you can’t sleep take lots of naps.
  • The only kind of ice I like is in a glass on a hot summer day.
  • Before the virus came I never knew there was such a thing as shower optional days.


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Rethink it

There is nothing wrong with rethinking things. As long as you don’t spend your whole life doing it and not acting. For instance, a decade back I thought about writing a book or two or three. I rethought that and decided on blogging for a while to maybe find my writing way first. I’ve been at that for 7 years here and I enjoy it so I’m not going to stop writing in this type of way anytime soon. Plus as you probably have noticed I could use a lot more practice and polish.

But I have rethought the idea of working on books again. This is something I envisioned doing long ago and my mindset was that I had a lot of things I wanted to share with my children that I hadn’t communicated. I got scared because it was just after my first bout with cancer and realized I wasn’t invincible anymore. And I did get to work on it for several months in a part-time way, but then my perspective changed again and I wanted to spend more time with them and people, and writing well can take some time.

Now I’m going to attempt to do both because I started to read what I started to assemble a long time ago. Not sure how I will manage it but if you don’t try you don’t know what you can and can’t do.

Another thing I had to rethink today was how to spend some of my time. I got up early to shovel. I had just about completed my driveway when the trash truck was coming down the street. He slowed and stopped at the house before us and just parked it there and the two guys walked down the street, got the cans and brought them back up, and emptied and returned. The hill beyond me gets very steep. They tried to back the truck up but for every 2 feet, they moved they slid down 3 feet more. I went over with my shovel and handed it to one guy and said I’ll get two more so we all can try to clear some road to get some grip. We tried for 20 minutes and were making progress in inches.

Truck tracks. Photo by Mike Hartley

I then thought about some gravel I have out back so I got the other two guys and we each got a scoop and got some momentum built up and he made it up the street in reverse. I went back in and got my camera with the thought of taking a walk and capturing some snow shots. The first one I took was the spot he was stuck in. Low and behold I crest the hill and there is the trash truck stuck again trying to turn around to get out of the neighborhood.

Snow and ice don’t care how big and bad you are. Photo by Mike Hartley

So instead of taking pictures round two started. Thankfully a county snow plow came in and help out with some clearing on the other side of the truck and some sand till he got straightened out.

It’s always nice to have the right tool for the job when you need it. Photo by Mike Hartley

So a tip of the hat to the county, state and federal employees out and about in all weather all year who provide our essential services.

I know I missed a chance to get some good images but I didn’t mind taking some time to help these guys. Better to help your fellow man than leave them stranded.

Shelter from the storm. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Today I was given some news that gave me great relief.
  • Tomorrow I’m going to dress up. I’m putting on my best sweatsuit.
  • Today I was given some news that made me very sad.
  • My Son’s first dog has a licker problem. She just loves to give face kisses. I’ve noticed she has been depressed since everyone started wearing masks.
  • OK, I’m tired of winter. If you wouldn’t mind hitting the off switch Mother Nature, it would be greatly appreciated.


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Tradition

Lots of traditions have been broken this year. And yesterday is another one for the books. The Super Bowl party wasn’t in vogue this year due to the pandemic. So many things missed this past year, it’s a list too long for most just to recall. And when you start to you have to stop from becoming severely depressed.

Now there is a formation. Photo by Mike Hartley

Some will be easy to pick back up. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other family celebrations, of course, will immediately go back to normal and maybe be even more special. But there is a lot of other things that might not happen. Will people who have gone to lunch together once in a while resume that? Will those who live distances from one another get on a plane as often to take that trip?

Will people return to the neighborhood bar or maybe as George Thorogood would say “I drink alone” now. Will you pick up the phone to your hoop buddies and get tickets for the coming game or season? Will your choice of where to stay or go on vacation change? Will you return to the county fair or go to fireworks on the 4th?

Will people continue to walk their neighborhoods? Will you go on a 5K walk/run or marathon with thousands of others huffing and puffing. Will we feel comfortable at a concert shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of people again? Will the interior space and ventilation at a restaurant now be as important as the food and service?

Just sitting here a few seconds and thinking about it the changes we may have might face and they might be endless. In some ways, they have been there all along. We are just in very lucky times before this one. There are so many things that leave us in very precarious positions. You see new life balances being made. I mean hey, an asteroid could collide with the earth and make how soon you get the vaccine kind of a moot point. So everyone is asking themselves how do I balance sanity and living with dodging daily unseen bullets of a virus and waiting for an annual shot or whenever a new strain appears for another shot?

And then I took a breathe and relaxed and set out to continue doing what I do. And that is adapt. Some of us are good at that and others not so. You can see that in the stress coming out in some. I’m not saying I don’t get stressed. Anyone who is drawing breath is aware that is a risky thing now. But adapting, living, and having a good time while supporting those around you and even strangers if you a fortunate person is my mission.

Everyone seems to be after someone for the pain. Parents are mad at teachers. People are mad at the medical profession and emergency services. People are mad at the government for lack of support. Some are mad they can’t do whatever the hell they wanted whenever they wanted as before. And as a very selfish society here in the states we attack each other instead of pulling together.

Medicine is not an exact science. But we shouldn’t make it political. There will always be new discoveries and new challenges. Look at how long they have been fighting cancer and heart diseases and others. And that will be true in the world of fighting viruses.

One very important change is taking place and both employee and employer agree on something. If your sick STAY YOUR ASS HOME. This wasn’t the norm before this virus but you can bet your ass it’s going to be part of the working future from now on. My better half was laughing at all the times we have worked through being sick. I used to take it as a badge of honor by not taking sick time from work. Those days are history unless you’re working from home.

I’m not saying people won’t work through something they might be fighting and treated for that isn’t contagious. That is what keeps some people going. Doing the thing they may love like life itself. But working with something that might be contagious like a cold or flu or more lethal virus is going to a be a big NO NO.

I had a bout of bronchitis last year. I didn’t want to leave the house with all the people that would look my way if I coughed even with mask on. It made me uncomfortable making others that uncomfortable.

So I don’t have all the answers yet. Hell, I don’t even have all the questions yet. All I know is I evaluate, think, adapt, and act as best I can each day. I take advice, I try to listen to various points. I try to minimize risk and maximize fun.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Work can keep you sharp. But if you overdo it, you will become dull.
  • Why does someone need a cannon to make a baby announcement? What happened to just sharing hugs and screaming and tears of joy with each other? My condolences to the person killed by this recently.
  • I’m inspired and tired.
  • Take a day, any day. Pick a card, any card. Choose what to do, all the time.


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Creative juice

I’d like to get the creative juices flowing again. Think I’ll start today with a fruit smoothie. Maybe that will help. But I really have to get busy again. I’ve let a week go by and I haven’t been as productive as I had hoped and that is always disappointing. I’m just too busy with stuff that gets in the way of the creative few minutes that come my way.

Follow the yellow brick road. Photo by Mike Hartley

We wait again for predicted snowfall. Will it be the bust like the last one? Who cares, my better half is making some chili which means any snowfall will be toast anywhere near the house, just from the heat rising from it simmering this afternoon. Got some spicy wings and a few other treats to snack on for the Stupor Bowl.

Then again I should take a walk and some pictures during the snowfall and get some practice at weather shots. I’ll have to dig deep for some motivation to go out in the cold on foot. But why not, I could probably be totally alone on the walk and not need a mask. Of course, I’ll put one in my pocket just in case.

Well, I made it to the front porch so far. Photo by Mike Hartley

One of the first things I thought of when I saw the flakes is the pictures of my grandchildren that I’ll get later today. There are a few new families in the neighborhood with children, maybe I’ll be lucky to see some of them playing or sledding also. I hope to spend some time with the camera in my hands today.

I do like the quiet of my backyard when the snow starts. I just realized to some it may appear I live in a treehouse. Nope, my back yard drops off very fast. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I pause before I start to write it usually takes a lot longer than the pause to get going.
  • Do you know how hard it is to get rid of your favorite sweatsuit even if has a hole or two in it?
  • I look out and see snow and I smile, pause and relax. I take a breath and the mind engages again and reminds me to shovel and the smile fades a bit.
  • Taxes are a full-time job.
  • At what age are we allowed to incorporate nap time into our daily activities? And who was the person who outlawed them once we were out of the infant stage?


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Regroup

Thursday I did a personal restart. The workweek was tough physically and mentally exhausting. The restart wasn’t without issues though. An example: you know when you restart a computer and sometimes it comes back up, hangs, and you have to manually power off and then back on. Well, I sort of had to do the same thing.

Take a seat till summer returns. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was in bed Thursday morning for about 45 minutes when the neighbors across the street had a crew of guys start taking down a few big trees so the sounds of chainsaws and booms of falling wood filled the morning and into the afternoon. After about 4 hours of on and off opening and shutting my eyes, I just got up. I didn’t feel right the rest of the afternoon. A shower maybe gave me 10 good minutes of clarity but the rest of it was a fog. So after dinner, I went to the recliner and started to think of all the things I wanted and needed to do as I polished off a small bowl of ice cream.

And that is when it happened. I think my mind took over and just hit the power off button. I found my finger on the recliner recline button and the leg extension began to rise and then the back started to fall and I’m saying no no I got to get up but it just kept going till I was almost flat. And with no control over my hand, a finger hit the heat button. I squirmed and tried to resist for a minute or two but the chair had hit the power off button on my behind. You know, how a hung computer sometimes struggles to even shut down but then it successfully closes everything and like the ending scene in The Terminator, the red eyes go blank. That is how it felt.

So I woke early Friday on the cool, wet, and breezy east coast of the US before sunrise again. Though that is not a bad thing, I felt refreshed. Getting some proper rest is essential. Yes, I’m telling you to do as I say and not as I do. I’m saying I know the other side and the price the body and mind can pay. And I’m one of the lucky ones who after decades of it still hasn’t keeled over from it.

Over time I’ve learned that with age comes limits. I can’t do the 60-80 hour workweeks I used to put in for decades. If I did I certainly would be alive now. Nowadays I limit it to 4 – 12 hour days and that is it. That is tough enough in my mid 60’s body and mind and given it’s overnight it’s especially difficult some weeks. Limiting it to less than 50 hours is more than enough with the other things I’m trying to accomplish in life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My granddaughter is becoming aware of the camera so I’m getting sneakier with it.
  • I’ve been very fortunate in life. Yes, I’ve had some bad in it. But thankfully I’ve had a lot of good also.
  • A salute to Sir Captain Tom Moore the man who raised millions to fight Covid passed of it this week. You have my respect and sympathy for the family.
  • I’ve been very fortunate in my professional life and have been blessed with mostly good people and places to hang the shingle.
  • I have my first injury from my grandchildren. I was stepping over toys and tweaked my knee good. I look forward to many more pains from many more grandchildren.
  • We need to make penalties much steeper for those people trying to scam seniors.


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A smile today

There are few things that you can’t help but smile at. One of them is children or animals playing in the snow. My children sent me some videos of their babies playing outside yesterday in the snow and it still is leaving me with a smile.

Even if they aren’t your own children or grandchildren, you could be watching the local news and see the kids outside during the weather or community segments and listen to the laughter and joy and you have to smile. Maybe your mind wanders back to the day you had a sled in hand.

Your going to need a bigger plow. Centennial HS Photo by Mike Hartley

How soon those days of going to Killer Hill have faded into past glory of all time sled rides. And now I watch the kids laugh and scream and go and go and go with endless energy. It kind of felt like a normal day for a change of pace. Funny how mother nature can get your attention when she wants.

Maybe its a good reminder to still laugh and play and enjoy life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to admit I was wrong. I thought there was no way they would finish the football season and they have.
  • I’d love to create enough work to fill a gallery. But I’ll be happy to get some really good pieces to fill my office and a few important people’s walls.
  • If you live your life taking nothing for granted, you are wise beyond your years.
  • Some days staying inside where it’s nice and toasty is a good thing.


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A rocky time

Time can be hard. Time can be cruel. Time can be punishing. I think of the time after surgeries. I think of the time after the death of a loved one. But thankfully time heals and time loves again. I’m letting time be my friend, side by side each minute. An appreciative glance back and forth. A thank you at the end of the day. A warm greeting in the morning. Because the tough times sometimes spur good times.

Beats trying to scale that rock. Photo by Mike Hartley

Can’t hide it – I was watching 60 Minutes and they had a segment on people looking forward to the good times when the Pandemic is passed. But for some, nothing about the future is certain because their families have been forever changed due to Covid deaths. One part struck me when a 15-year-old son was told he was now the man of the family and to take care of it. I got kind of choked up for a second because I remember that being said to me when I was 9 years old and my father had passed.

Several families allowed deeply tragic events to be shared with people. It makes me think how selfish people have become where we can’t take a few seconds to do something to protect each other. Or make some sacrifices without complaining.

Maybe the rich could wait for their place in line for a change of pace. Maybe we could all cooperate and stop pointing fingers. Well, what the hell am I thinking, this isn’t the America I’m seeing now. I think I’ll work hard tomorrow to make it something else.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Any day I can think ahead with a positive outlook is a good day. For instance, even though a full work week is ahead I’m thinking about laughing with friends and family. Well at least over the phone.
  • It’s reported the former president and his legal team parted ways. I guess it’s hard to defend the indefensible.
  • I could read Dilbert cartoons all day.
  • It’s an individual decision but I’m getting the vaccine when I’m eligible. Am I nervous about it, yes? Was I nervous about the first time I had a flu vaccine, yes? And yes I will get it regardless because I don’t want to be so sick I end up in the hospital or dead.


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Spirits are up

I like the days I wake and it just seems like it’s going to be a good day. Mentally refreshed from some good sleep, rising without pain, knowing I don’t have to work today at the job that pays the bills, and having a day with nothing on the schedule except some chores. And after a day of helping watch my granddaughter where I danced, I played, I sang, I teased, I fed, I cleaned and then I picked up. I couldn’t be more relaxed and happy. Nothing like being a kid for a day.

Of course, that cold really makes the thought of stepping outside the front door rather bleak but I can hear my friend now in my ear “embrace the cold” he will utter and chuckle knowing full well how I loath the season of Winter. He also sent me a picture of him firing up his snowblower knowing I have a shovel to use. He is going to get a penalty shot the next time we are together.

From Tequila Mockingbird in OC. Photo by Mike Hartley

In this PostWhat’s going on – a short thought on a mind of a 2-year-old and mask | Time to Shovel – a short number of options for the next few days of snow. | Random Thoughts of the Day

What’s going on – You know the Marvin Gaye tune “What’s Going On.” Shoot I might be dating myself. That was released in 1971. Anyway, I was kind of thinking that the song title must be going on inside my granddaughter’s mind. She is a March baby so the first year of her life 2019-20 was pretty normal. The only mask she saw was in the hospital after being born. Since her birth, nobody wore a mask. Then last March of 2020 and you have everyone wearing a mask.

What’s going on must be the thought racing through her mind this last year.

Is it a fashion statement? Is it because they don’t want to kiss me? Where did PaPa’s beard go? Is everyone a bank robber now? Are we playing doctor or nurse? Is this some kind of new Peke a boo game? Did you just go to the dentist? Are we playing Cowboys and Indians and robbing the stagecoach? Did Tic Tak’s go out of business and everyone has bad breath? Are you hiding a Hitler mustache? Are you sticking out your tongue as I do behind that mask and you just don’t want me to see it? Are you eating something and don’t want to share it with me? I don’t like that I can hear you talk but not see your mouth move. I don’t like this game. Can we go back to before land?

Time to Shovel – I can’t complain too loudly, it’s been almost 2 years since any significant snowfall came. Of course, Mother Nature doesn’t believe in letting my back work into a shoveling session with just a few inches. She is going to throw us a major task. As of this morning 4-8 inches on Sunday and then another 4-8 inches on Monday. With that amount of snow and cold, it’s going to need some planning, pacing myself, and preparation.

This is only half my driveway. Photo by Mike Hartley

Option 1 – wait for it all to melt and admire the beauty in it. Never done that except for dustings. But really I have nothing to go out for the next few days. Groceries were got by my better half last night and there is heat in the house so what more could we want for? – But this is the least likely to happen.

Option 2 – wait for it to finish snowing and then do it all at once. This is the hardest option on the body because you have to shovel it as you would dirt. Only what fits on the shovel and you have to throw it. On the good side, you aren’t out while it’s still snowing. It’s when you see the most neighbors doing the same thing. It’s also the most dangerous and hardest I believe. Especially if it does start to melt and get heavy. This is not an option because my back is already bad and I don’t want a heart attack.

Option 3 – Incremental clearing. Anything in the range of 8-16 inches they are predicting, this is mandatory if you are using a shovel. One it allows the snowplow option. I can walk behind and push and only lift and throw a lot less. I also enjoy this method for a few other reasons. If you’re ever outside when it’s snowing hard it’s the most beautiful sound of almost nothing you have ever heard. You can hear it snow and nothing else. Typically you might find yourself the only one out shoveling in the middle of a blizzard. You look left, you look right, nobody in sight. The 60+-year-old body jumps into the snow and does a snow angel. You lay looking at the sky, catching a snowflake on your tongue. You check to make sure you haven’t broken anything, you get up and start snowplow operations again with a smile. I’m thinking of getting my back brace out for more support and I’m going to remember to bend and lift with the knees because they are still strong. So this is my current plan of action.

Option 3 – Wait for a friend who teases me with pictures of his snowblower to come do my driveway. Fat chance, he traded in his nice big pickup for a fancy SUV. That is another 2 shots for him when I see him next.

Option 4 – Wait for the family to come and help. Well when it snows that much here, nobody much moves and not the distance that they would have to travel. I know they would help in a flash if I asked but they have their own homes to worry about. When we get older I’ll wait for them. Till then I’m the mule.

Option 5 – Sit here and blog and pray it rains instead.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Any day you think you have a rough day at work, think about the nurses and doctors seeing people pass each day and the effect of that on them. It kind of makes everything else pale in comparison, doesn’t it?
  • It always amazes me how fast an hour goes by, and then a week, and then a month, and so on.
  • Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy.
  • The more I sort through what is important, the thing that comes up most is memories. Old ones and creating new ones.


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Waiting

I’ve been more active and not waiting for things to come my way. This attitude is making life better and more enjoyable because I’m living it more. But sometimes waiting is an important part of life. I waited patiently in line at Duchess Sandwich and Shake shop. And you know what, waiting in her line even inside is a lot nicer than waiting in a drive-through line at the chain fast food place is. Because most are locals. I saw two people today that hadn’t seen each other in a very long time run into each other there.

Looking inland waiting for me to return. Photo by Mike Hartley

We are all waiting for our turn for a vaccine. Parents can’t seem to wait to return their kids to school. There are people on the road who can’t wait. Had one today almost cause 3 accidents in like a quarter mile.

Today was also two contrast in waiting. There was no waiting at the lab today for my blood draw. I had made the appointment online. She got me on the first jab (which is another reason I like Quest Lab in EC) and away I went.

Now I wait for the results and the appointment with the doctor. That is a little longer. And I use this time in between to wonder about fate. Doctors can always talk about percentages but in reality, it’s one or the other. So a long time ago I stopped paying attention to percentages and only on results.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to have that sigh of relief for a few years now. That calm that says well it isn’t going to be cancer that gets me today. An appreciation that a bullet has been dodged. A smile slowly crosses my face that you don’t have to give anyone difficult news and can chuckle, embrace and hug tightly my better half.

I hope for that good news again at my appointment in February. But even though I’m waiting, even though my mind is doing laps, I’m moving on because that is what we do. We move on regardless.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You might want to make sure your heating source is ready for the next few days.
  • I’m so excited about tomorrow. But that is personal.
  • I’m starting to measure progress in how I feel about it not what others think.
  • The mind is preoccupied with thought.
  • This pandemic isn’t all bad. I’ve saved a lot of money on haircuts.


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A good weekend

Watching a grandchild grow and develop is a wonderful thing. Trying to figure out her words as she learns to speak is also a lot of fun. I enjoyed Friday doing just that and ignoring the chores and errands. I’m inspired that my weekend is a day longer than normal because I’m using a comp day at work to start my next week. I love short work weeks at the job that pays the bills. I think I heard a recent survey that people would prefer time off as opposed to a raise. Hell, I know I would. Time away from the job that pays the bills allows me to live and do things not possible with the long work week. And money doesn’t buy happiness.

Will winter turn into March Madness this spring? Photo by Mike Hartley

In this PostFitness Maryland CrabsParentsRandom Thoughts of the Day

Fitness – I’ve been working on my mental fitness during the pandemic, but I’ve neglected my physical fitness. So the effort began recently to fix that so the whole can be healthy. I’ve put some miles on the treadmill and used the new Ninja blender to make my first fruit smoothie. It’s going to take effort and time to fix the physical part. I’m not that overweight, maybe 10-15 lbs. But my diet and body need some cardio and toning. Both of those are probably well below average.

I know some of my family and friends might still be laughing at the thought I’ve been working on my mental fitness but I have and I’m feeling in a good place most days. But my body has been talking to me in tongues and as far as I can interpret so far, “I’m screwing up big time.” So changes must be made and I will move towards making them permanent instead of just a season or a month or two.

Maryland Crabs – Here I am in the heart of winter talking crabs. Not just any crabs, Maryland Chesapeake Bay Crabs. I’m convinced they are the best on earth. I had a little crab on a veal dish the other day and it was great.

Some homemade crabcakes. Photo by Mike Hartley.

All I know is I can’t wait to be at a picnic table covered in newsprint with a big pile of crabs hot out of the steamer and spend an hour or more picking crabs at least once this coming summer. I hope its a good season ahead.

Parents – Today is my father-in-law’s birthday. First one, we will be without him. I’m going to take some time in the morning to remember him and mom. Some of his siblings will gather to share sorrow and stories. Those who can’t join will certainly shed a tear also. But they should also share joy. I remember many celebrations with him and the fact that his family would gather was the best present he ever could get. You could see it from the time he greeted you at the door. You could see it in his pride that day. You could see it in the smile before he blew out the candles or told a story. You could feel the appreciation in his voice or handshake or hug as you would be leaving. You could see him reveling in the company of family. He didn’t have to preach about it. He didn’t have to ask for attendance. He didn’t have to cajole company. People came because they knew how much his family meant to him by his actions and Moms.

I see that in my wife. I feel it in myself. The best present is just the time with family. And now members of his and their mother will have to remember the days with them from memory. That is the hardest part. Children want their parents to feel special on their birthday as much as parents want their children to feel special on their days. Both of those are no longer possible except by the memories. These can serve some good needs like comfort in knowing the love they had for you but also trigger much pain in missing their presence.

I was going through pictures looking for something else when I just happened to run across these two. I do miss them dearly, I love them both very much and that is what the photo on the right means to me. But the one on the left was a day for the entire family at our pool (when it actually held water) and I’m going to choose to remember that day because it was one of those special ones where joy and laughter and hugs and kisses and everything was right in the world.

I can remember the pain of those early years after my own parents passing. All I can say is that the pain never goes away but is mixed more with happy memories as time goes on. The same memories you cry through the first few years suddenly turn towards smiles and memories of more comforting times than the immediate memories of their passing and services.

I wish all of my in-laws and especially my better half, the ability to cry but also laugh and not mourn but celebrate lives well lived. Because they were well-lived and much appreciated by those who they touched including me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The older you get the more you cherish each day, hour, minute. And if not you should.
  • Having goals for accomplishments are a great thing. Just make sure they are the right goals.
  • RIP Hank Arron and thank you for the highlights. But I also pause to recognize the man and character of the man. I look at him as the same courage and class of a Jackie Robinson.
  • Way to go Maryland Terps hoop teams.
  • Had a great meal from Facci in Turf Valley yesterday. Carry out of course. but I did look longingly at the dine-in area and let my mind wander about having a waiter, someone to get me a refill, and a hot meal in a nice atmosphere. Well maybe someday in the future.


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Patience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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A new path

I’m optimistic about this day. Maybe our country needed a little hardship to refocus. We are still far too selfish. We got to work better together. And I think we will and can. As long as we all are involved.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Dignity Restored – I was watching the wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery today and felt comfortable again that dignity was being restored to my parent’s resting place. Something that is respected and cherished by the Commander and Chief. Someone who knows sacrifice and service. Someone not using hollowed grounds for a prop.

Important words on headstones at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

It would gall me watching 45 go there because he had no understanding or appreciation of what those men and women buried there who fought for the rest of us. When you go to this cemetery it’s no longer about you. And that is where he is lost because everything is about him.

Important words on headstones in Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

When I visit I walk around that path Presidents took today to watch the changing of the guard when I visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I try to stand in a different spot each time. I love watching the precision of the Old Guard.

Words on headstones at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day.

  • You would think with all the random thoughts rattling around in my head I could remember a few when I go to write them.
  • Ledo pizza with pre-cooked bacon. Life is good.
  • It actually feels good when I get off the treadmill. I think that is because the couch is close by to catch me.
  • I just got one of those Ninja health mixers. Would it be wrong to make a milkshake with it before I start the healthy stuff?


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Rhythm

For some reason, I turned on the Ocean City beach cam for sunrise this morning and it was a nice one that kind of inspired me. I watched a few people walking on the beach. The calm morning still had a small ripple of waves hitting the shore. And even though I could not hear them, I could because my mind loves that sound.

I must return. Photo by Mike Hartley

I find the coming day giving me hope again. Not that I don’t have concern, as a partner of that, it’s just that it has balance again. Hope and concern are bedfellows that should be together. For we can always make things better. And I feel that hope has been added to the equation again.

I’m also asking myself some very important questions more often now. It helps me prioritize my day better. And to that end, I’m feeling better because I’m doing more that I feel good about.

I hear Karma is the pilot on a flight out of Andrews tomorrow morning.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I can stay focused I can do great things. Well, maybe at least a few good ones.
  • Things aren’t as complicated as they may appear.
  • Walked my way to a better attitude this morning.
  • The more days away from my friends I realize how important and special they are.
  • The world is like a bunch of heroin addicts, waiting for their shot.
  • Each day a new picture to paint. Choose your brush wisely.
  • Find the one who loves you and you will be happy in life.
  • Those were some beautiful images and thoughts expressed on the Mall tonight in honor of the people lost to the virus.
  • I find it comforting that Trump will probably never step foot in Arlington National Cemetery again.


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Keep going

A few setbacks on Monday but despite that, I’m picking up where I left off Sunday. In other words, I didn’t put the effort I had hoped for into the day. It’s probably a good thing because my body and mind were sending me urgent rest messages and apparently l wasn’t listening. So just like my cell phone when it runs out of juice, I crashed.

Love one another. Photo by Mike Hartley

So despite the passing on the calendar of Martin Luther King Day, I tried to learn more of the man. So I read a few hundred of his quotes. And I sit here paused because I feel inspired, relaxed, wiser, and comfortable.

One favorite MLK quote I read was “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”

So I didn’t do my day of service on Monday but that doesn’t mean I’m blowing it off. I’ll find some way to make a positive difference this coming day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m doing good with my goal of spending less and less time on Facebook.
  • I feel the need, the need for pizza.
  • I’ve never joined Twitter. Seems like some people just can’t live without it.
  • Do random thoughts I started yesterday that I didn’t write down right away, count as valid thoughts of the day today?
  • I can’t remember ever looking forward to a shot before now. Not the liquor kind, the medicine kind.


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Thinking ahead

Good day, all. A wonderful day and a sad day. A painful day and a healthy day. You can have the best and worst and still come out OK.

Only a few more months. Photo by Mike Hartley

In this postThinking AheadSunday DinnerRandom Thoughts of the Day

I’m thinking ahead to having a few hours off tomorrow. Of course, I have a night of work before that but what the hell, a little daydreaming of what to do with the time. I really need to finish that shell carving after spending a few hours on it earlier and making good progress.

I’ve got to get out with the camera also and being the sun should be out I think that is a good thought to pursue. And I think I’ll take a gift card out and get some carryout for lunch. I should get some exercise and oh yeah, remember to eat right. And I’m going to do some reading also because I’m enjoying a few books. I haven’t read much in my life, but I think I’ll try to make it part of my future. I know each year I blog I read more.

Sunday Dinner – We may not eat every dinner of the week together, we try, but Sunday is always the day where the family will be. It’s down to just the two of us at home now but still both of us every Sunday like clockwork. It’s a special dinner night. My better half usually plans something good. Sometimes I’ll be grilling out in good weather but she really does the special ones and a majority of them.

From the time I get up till I pull up to the table, I anticipate the meal. And most of the time I don’t even know what we are having till midday and sometimes not till I smell it cooking. And oh boy does the home smell good on Sundays. I’ve always looked forward to it.

It’s funny how it’s changed over the years. Newly married and romantic times just looking into the eyes of each other. Then the children’s years where you feel like a goalie catching food thrown between the kids. And then they grow into young adults barely able to sit still. Then there is the appreciation for that home cooking after they go away to college and then return home. All of a sudden they are taking their time and getting their fill again. And as I said earlier now we are just back to the two of us. It’s nice and relaxed, We express thanks for the food. We usually look at each other and smile as we talk and share a laugh or tough issue. It’s not rushed anymore.

Family meals together are important. Real important. It’s that few minutes together, the conversation, the laughs, the question, and answer update when the kids were home. The games they would play. the likes and dislikes for certain foods. The looks at Dad for chewing too loudly. I miss a full table but I still love having a partner to share that special meal with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hate to see our country looking like an armed camp. How embarrassing, at war with ourselves.
  • Change with a purpose is motivational.
  • When I can’t get to what I want to, it’s time to evaluate what I’m spending my time on again.
  • It takes time to create a good post. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.


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Run Down

Good day, all. The weekend is starting and I’m looking forward to a fine one. I just wish I was starting it, feeling a little better. Such is life, lots harder battles being fought by those who are really sick. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and do as much as we can for them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

In this PostRun DownGrievingRandom Thoughts of the Day

Run Down – I don’t think I’m sick. I believe I’ve just gotten run down. Lack of sleep, a body feeling more than its age, a fogged mental sharpness. I just haven’t had the energy I need this month. Which leads to a less than optimal mental approach.

I don’t think it’s trying to do too much. I’m not working a bunch of overtime. I’ve even missed a day or two of blogging to try to refresh the body with rest but this is difficult with the neighbors I have. If it isn’t the roosters or geese waking me up it’s them pounding on something outside or a generator and nail gun firing away.

I’m just in a slight down cycle with my energy. But I think I’ll take some action on some time off, so I’ve scheduled 2 days away from the job that pays the bills over the next two weeks. Hopefully, that will turn the situation for the better.

At least I recognize it earlier now and don’t spiral downward as I used to by never cutting back on anything and thinking it would change. The older I get the more moron solutions I remove from my brain, hence the term live and learn.

Grieving – With the passing over the last half-year of my mother and father-in-law I’ve seen a good bit of grieving. Had a share of it myself because I did love them dearly. But it also reminded me of missing my own parents. Sometimes catching a glance at their photos pauses me. I don’t want to let memories go but as time goes on it gets harder to remember all the specifics. But I will never stop feeling the love.

I was introduced to grieving fairly early with my Dad passing when I was young. I still grieve his loss today and that is a big hole I have in my life because I didn’t get a chance to know my own father. Sometimes I sit wondering what would be different. What could he have given me that I really could use? Maybe a bit of his courage. He was in WW2 and Korea. He traveled as part of the Navy to both Poles after the wars. Maybe he could have given me the confidence to aspire to more than I am now. Not that I’m unhappy with myself, just maybe if I had been more motivated I might have accomplished more.

I don’t spend an unusual amount of time wondering those things but when I pause, I sometimes wonder. I think about how my Mom would be so happy with her great-granddaughter and the love she could have shared with her. I think about her calls on my birthday and that still brings a tear to my eye at times. I could go on and on about the things I miss about them. I remember feeling better when I visited their gravesite at Arlington, but the recent deaths have wiped that away, I just miss them very badly again.

But I remain strong because it’s my better half that needs my support now, and rightfully so. Everything about their passing was made very difficult if not impossible by the current conditions. The closeness also compounded it. So I’ve got to figure out how to make this year a better one for her. One that will buffer the pain with some happy time. My first challenge is this month with her birthday. I have a few good ideas already. So let me write them down to act on before I forget.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A healthy day is much more than a good day.
  • Find things you have in common with people and build from there.
  • I have two horses in the race today. Go Packers and Ravens.
  • I’m working on posture before I can’t. Then again a pretzel has posture.
  • A granddaughter sleeping on her grandmother is a wonderful sight.
  • A positive post is coming soon.

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

  • Our Mom’s taught us if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all. I just wanted to explain that is why you will never hear me utter Andy Harris’s name. But then again some people are good examples of exceptions.
  • So congressmen fear for their lives because of their votes, what have we become?
  • So some members of Congress want to carry a gun to work but not wear a mask.


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Made it

I’m going to move beyond the madness of politics and neighbors today and get back to thinking about my hobbies and enjoying life. But then there is the workday starring me in the face. Such is life, do the best with the time you have.

In this postMade ItFruitRandom Thoughts of the Day

I’m fishing for a peaceful day. Photo by Mike Hartley

Made It – When you reflect on life, it’s fun to look at the stuff you have made in your life. For instance, when I walk out on my deck I always have a great feeling because I made it. Well with the help of a good neighbor friend. It feels as strong as I wanted it. It’s lasted through storms and trees falling on it. Anything I make always feels good. Even when I make something that isn’t, it’s good for a laugh usually.

Pine tree deck party. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I sit here some days going through my parent’s things, I wish I had the chance to know from them what might have been important or special to them. Yes, I know several things but I’m sure there is something I’m missing. A story behind something that might seem insignificant, might have been precious to them. And I will never know. For instance, I’m sorting through old family photos. And there are some people I don’t know or can’t recognize. I’m sure she would know in an instant. And I’m left to wonder did I just throw something valuable to the family away?

I actually have a draft post of material things that have some significance to me and then maybe to my children. And I just thought to myself I also start needing to put a story or meaning behind them so they can decide.

But what have I done? What have I made? Well, I figure I’ve been part of making a few billion newspapers. Which might lead me to the quest of determining the actual number someday. I think I might have been conservative in that number because that doesn’t count the commercial work.

But personal things I’ve made have been limited and I hope to change that. Yes, I’ve made tens of thousands of images. Maybe more. I’ve got about 6 years of blogging and some drawings and etchings. I can’t wait for the days where I can really start knocking out some work. Funny how work gets in the way of work.

Fruit – I didn’t think of it as any resolution but just a thought. I wanted to start eating at least one piece of fruit a day. So I’m off and running. It’s not like I don’t like fruit. I do like many of them. And till today I never knew avocado was a fruit. Yeah I know “Duh” at this age I should have known that. Or better yet, I probably did know it, but forgot. Anyway I know I have to make an effort to change my diet for the better as I age now. I’m evoking the “better late than never policy” so if my kids are reading this and trying to catch their breaths from laughing I’m holding my head up and proceeding.

Fruit celebration. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have added smoothie making materials to the shopping list. Got to make it a little fun. Plus that can increase my intake and keep me away from less healthy drinks at the same time.

Maybe I’ll add some fruit to my cooking more. I’ve always enjoyed pineapple on various items. Like Hawaiian pizza or grilled in kabobs. Maybe mixed in with some sliced red/yellow and green peppers. And then there is pineapple over ham. Ahh.

So if I can make it through these lean fresh fruit months I think I’ll be good the rest of the year. Then we can talk about maybe adding veggies to the diet regularly. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Could you imagine losing your sense of smell and taste forever? Wear a mask, please.
  • I wonder how much time a day I could recoup if I stopped watching weather reports.
  • It’s ironic the day after we are discussing bills we paid by mail last month, some were sometimes taking 30+ days to make it to the business. Of course, that is late and they are threatening service so we have to pay online. So tonight is the story on the local news about others having the same issues. Did you ever think you would be thinking it would be nice to return to the good old days of the Post Office?
  • The Amazon scam calls are starting up again. All scam calls seem to be picking up. Probably never went away. The company that could help us average Joe’s within getting rid of that crap would be worth a fortune.


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Wishing

Back to back sunny days here in central Maryland on Saturday and Sunday morning had me in a sunny mood. No pressing emergencies and a few free hours to work on my crafts so life is good as my tee-shirt says yesterday morning. Well, that was the situation before my neighbors tried to light the hood on fire with an open burn that got out of control. Thankfully it only burned structures on their property.

In todays postWishingPitifulRandom Thoughts of the Day

Fire out, Its an new week. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing – Only a few hours before the workweek starts anew. I remember the days the time before a new week would form a lot of anxiety for me. Almost to the point of panic attacks at times. Sometimes the pressure was of my own making in my own mind. I can be pretty hard on myself. Other times it was external pressures from managers and directors. Today I have none of that.

It’s not like I’m afraid of pressure or doing difficult things or taking responsibility or driving/doing something myself. But I was always afraid of judgments of others be they fair or not so I would always overprepare and overwork it so everything would go right.

Most of it was my own problem. People had much more confidence in me than I did in myself. And yes I worked hard to earn it but never gave myself credit along the way.

And then at some point, all this changed. I don’t worry about the work or what people think or judge my success by the words of others. Frustration with superiors or coworkers has disappeared. I just do my thing and look forward to the weekends. It’s a nice freedom I haven’t had most of my career.

Pitiful – What do sick children and sick animals have in common besides looking pitiful? Neither can communicate what is wrong. That is one of the most frustrating things in life. I’m seeing my granddaughter get sick every so often as every child does and I remembered that fear.

But what is also pitiful are adults without any common sense and complete disregard for the law or others. No, I’m not going to talk politics here I’m going to talk about one of my neighbors. They have had several illegal burns over the last year. They had one so close to their house that the brick is black in sections from the fire. I gave them county regulations on it and that didn’t matter. I threatened to call the fire marshal and that didn’t matter. So yesterday morning they started a huge pile of brush, branches, and logs about 5-6 foot high and lit it. I said as soon as he lit it they were too close to their bird coops. Sure enough one catches fire. And of course, the plastic sheeting covering the metal frame goes up but there are plywood and hay inside so it’s got lots of fuel. Tweddle de and Tweddle dumb were out trying to put it out bucket by bucket and all it was doing is getting worse so I called the fire department.

No, normally I would have suggested to anyone else that it was too close to other structures. I would normally immediately try to help them put it out. But these are not normal neighbors. They have proven over and over they don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone else. So I sent the county the videos of previous burns they did that I videoed and I’m calling the fire department if I see them outside with a match. I’ll also continue to file the zoning complaints because they are now constructing another building too close to the property line and I feel it’s going to be used for the birds again which they were forced by the county to move once already. So it’s just a game to them.

Well obviously they have no idea with they are F’ing with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if CopperFit makes a full-body sleeve. Because some days everything seems to hurt.
  • Do Sunday mornings seem quieter?
  • It’s depressing taking Christmas lights down.
  • I’m dreaming of summer vacation.
  • How bout Dem TERPS.

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

  • So the new Right-wing chant is Hang Mike Pence. Really nice guys. Summary executions because you don’t like someone doing their job.
  • Let me get this straight. The current president preaches law and order but LOVES the people who killed a Capital Policeman?
  • I’m all for free speech but running into a theater and yelling FIRE or standing up on an airplane and yelling bomb is still a CRIME. Inciting a riot against one of the branches of government that leads to the death of a policeman is a CRIME.
  • Guess what America. Those angry, hateful, threatening people on video all went home someplace. And most of them weren’t from the DMV (DC, MD, VA).


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Plowing Through

Good day, all. Time has escaped me again, typical but not acceptable this year. So we crank up the engine again today and start anew. It’s always a good feeling to get moving and motivated again. Of course, I’m sure we were all hoping for a great start to the new year. And then there was this week.

We are going to be over our heads if we are not careful. Photo by Mike Hartley

In this postPlowing ThroughThe DentistSeafoodRandom Thoughts of the Day

Plowing Through – I’ve gone through so many emotions the last few days at the events I’ve seen. Yesterday I just stepped into my workroom and grabbed the Dremel tool and just started gouging some wood. It felt like a painter just throwing a bucket at a canvas. Rage equaled some sawdust after a while. But my mind is still swirling. Although I did learn that sometimes rage and art do mix.

I’ve tried using humor to lighten up. I’ve tried listening to music, but that seemed to rile me up. Sometimes I wander around the basement mumbling. Occasionally I curse the TV. I’m restraining myself from reacting and trying to keep in mind we all have to work together. I’m waiting for our collective government to come together but the extremes seem to be tearing it apart.

The misinformation and lies need to stop and the need to stop now, but they aren’t. The immediate question is how do we stop the radicals from both sides from starting down a road nobody wins except those that want chaos and death.

I know what I saw and I know what I heard and the results of that. And that was WRONG. And most are calling it wrong so WTF are we going to do about it. It was a hair-trigger away from being much more deadly, not to minimize the 5 who did pass. Accountability has gone out of the window. I’m sickened by all these flip/flops Republican elected officials who created this monster and the Genie got out of the bottle and now they disown it. And it’s not like the Democrats haven’t flipped on issues either.

So that was the first hour of my day and then my granddaughter came over and all was right with the world for the rest of the day.

The Dentist – It was my 6-month cleaning today. And given I’ve neglected a little care over the last 6 months I was expecting bad news but none came. Just another appointment 6 months from now. I’ve been blessed so far with strong teeth. No, they aren’t the straightest around. No, they aren’t the brightest after smoking for some years as a youth. But fortunately, I’ve only had 4-5 cavities in my life. And that was about it except for having my wisdom teeth extracted in my youth.

I’ve been blessed with one wonderful dental hygienist. Her name is Dawn and she has a wonderful touch. And my dentist is one of my neighbors who I’ve known now for nearly 4 decades and is also great. I can imagine he might be retiring in the coming years and I dread finding another one. I’m sure I’ll try the person who gets his practice with his recommendation of course. But I don’t like to change.

Sorry, I got off the point I was going to make. The dentist used to terrify me. I don’t know why but messing with my teeth or eyes makes me shiver. I’ve gotten used to the dentist over the years but not the eye doctor. I don’t think I could ever sit still for that Lasik surgery even though I could probably use it.

But the dentist appointment was just the trigger to worry about another appointment I have to make for my annual cancer check. That is the one that unnerves me. That is the one that takes processing cycles out of my mind I would have used constructively or had fun. I know I’m not the only one with those feelings, I’ve talked to others. Some are better dealing with it. I’ve been good at times and a basket case of worry at others. Even at the best, there is a base level of concern.

I can remember the times where test every 3 months a couple of times in the past few decades. Then they go to 6 months and then annually. It’s kind of sad but now every person shares that feeling nowadays when they think to themselves, is that sniffle or cough I have the Covid Virus? Just like cancer patients think about internal pains, is that something else growing in me? Or waiting on test results. At least it’s a universal reminder now to everyone that your Health is EVERYTHING.

Seafood – I have a taste for seafood tonight. Not sure where we will go. (only carry out for us) Yeah, it’s not really the season for great seafood here but there is never a bad time to eat it. The trouble is with most carry out is that it’s taken a great deal of enjoyment from the dining out experience. First of all, you don’t want to travel too far because it’s cold when you get home. I may miss that the most. A warm meal coming right out of the kitchen, hearing the sizzle, experiencing the smell, picking up that fork and knife.

I have a taste for seafood today. Phot by Mike Hartley

I’m thinking about a place I haven’t been in a while. The Catonsville Gourmet. We have had some wonderful meals there but it’s been a long time so I think I’ll suggest that to my better half. Maybe I’ll put a candle out on the table and we can pretend to be having a meal out. When this does virus threat does end at some point there are going to be a lot of smiling faces at tables again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It was wonderful to go for a drive yesterday, even though it was to the dentist.
  • If you looking for hope and inspiration. Look at young children. Look at the innocence. Look at the wonderment. Look at the zest and energy for life. It’s our job to give them hope.
  • One week into the new year and I’m already reprioritizing.
  • I have a good feeling about today.
  • Every day you make it through these difficult times is like a double victory.

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

  • Nice move Twitter. Your timing is only off by 4 years.
  • As the Capital was being overrun Ivanka Trump called those people American Patriots. Proof that parents can be toxic.
  • I wonder what 4 years of undying loyalty, playing a fool and tool feels like after being betrayed at the last minute. Isn’t Karma wonderful? Have a royal day Mr. Pence. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. I could have told you 4 years ago that man has no loyalty other than to himself.
  • Oh, and that video of Linsey Graham being chased by Trump supporters yelling “traitor” and one woman saying “this is what it’s going to be like the rest of your life” to him was like music to my ears. Now I need some video of people chasing Ted Cruz in Texas.


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Act

On days like today, news sometimes gets in my way of being able to do a proper blog. Working in the industry, it’s obviously a very busy day especially being at the seat of where it is happening. Today is a good reason to focus on the changes we need to make. We should never allow a small minority to rule this democracy because then it fails to exist.

These are not Patriots. Today was a partial culmination of many lies said over a long period of time and many that continue to be spoken.

OK, I could go on for a while but I’m sure we are all tired of the situation we witnessed. So I’ll leave and get back to work for the job that pays the bills. But mark my words, I’m on a mission to see this never happens again.

Political Lightening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hope for the future. Hope for my children and grandchildren. And then things like today that tell me that hope, won’t get the job done.
  • A few bananas have replaced a few stars.
  • I wish I had a vaccine for the people who stormed the Capital today.
  • Can you imagine the number of shots fired if those storming the Capital were black?


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Waiting for my set

Good day, all. A great day to be alive and kicking. Any day you communicate with your grown children on a weekday and get to spend it with your better half is not to be taken for granted.

You know I thought I’d go for a ride today and grab a few photos but not being able to feel my left arm and hand from time to time and in pain when I can feel, made me think twice, but I said the hell with it and came up to get a shower but looked outside and the rain was falling. Well, I can deal with cool temps, but not cool temps and rain. So a shower and then into a fresh pair of PJ’s and tee shirt for the evening’s work.

The week is low key so far. Work is going smoothly. Got a little more woodworking done this afternoon and hope to get one piece completed by Friday. I’m really enjoying some reading also. Nothing like continuing education to keep you inspired, especially when it’s for a craft you love.

Just cruising along. Photo by Mike Hartley

Hopefully, Wednesday can bring some time to my creative endeavor’s and maybe mother nature will provide some gnarly waves for the kid to ride. And if she doesn’t I’ll create my own.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Well we know now it’s not just gun deaths and drug overdose deaths and drunk driving deaths that we can ignore in huge numbers.
  • When you take out sleeping hours, life awake is very short.
  • Set yourself some attainable goals. Like peeling off each day on a daily desk calendar. Come on now, I know you have missed some. I wonder if anyone got through a whole year without missing a day or two. And is that because it doesn’t matter what day it is or maintaining a simple discipline over time is difficult?
  • Save yourself some time. Learning when your young is easier.
  • But that doesn’t mean stop learning as you age because it will keep you younger.
  • I’ve had a productive day but little to show for it here.


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Trial and Failure

In this post below – Trial and Failure – Howard County TodayRandom Thoughts of the Day

Trail and Failure – I’ve been pretty harsh editing the last few days and thrown out a lot of shooting. That used to bother me but I’m trying to challenge myself to better the quality of images. So really I had nothing from last night’s shoot. But this shot reminded me there is a new dawn coming tomorrow and I should keep trying and not let failure stop me or slow me or affect me other than to learn from it.

It’s a hard thing to overcome, a failure that is. I guess we all should be used to it because everyone has some failures in their lives. I’ve failed a great number of times. And I’ll probably fail some more. It doesn’t feel good when it happens. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of. I know at times in my life I’ve been afraid of failure enough to not try. And that is a bigger failure in reflection.

I’ll do better next time. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it’s all in how you look at it. For instance, I wanted to do some more sanding today and only got to spend a few minutes on that goal. It looks like I’ve got nothing done and failed at this task. I felt successful because I didn’t blow it off entirely because of limited time today.

I remember failure as a young baseball player. I was just more comfortable playing pickup. Put a uniform on me and people on the side and I was a basket case. I wasn’t horrible, I just wasn’t able to do my best because I was too afraid of making a mistake. I got tense and nervous.

It’s easier as you age to separate failure from trying. Professional baseball players strike out, they make errors. That feeling of failure from a single plate appearance is nothing. But losing the ability to come to bat the next time thinking hit and an average of .500 is another.

So like I stated the other day I’m going to be trying things with this blog. I’m sure I’ll have many failures on top of the many examples already.

Howard County Today – I thought I’d start a section about the wonderful county I live in. Growing up we used to refer to it as Hazard County. But really it was a wonderful place to grow up myself and then raise a family. It’s a place I will probably pass one day from this earth. I was 3 years old in late 1960 when we moved to the southern part of the county.

And except for a 4-year stint in Catonsville, I’ve been in this county all my life. Even when I lived in Catonsville I worked in the county. So we were here before Columbia and saw that great change. We have seen multiple floods in the area. We have experienced the continued explosion of the population and land being swallowed up at alarming rates.

Just out of high school I was lucky enough to land a job with the Times Newspapers. This allowed me a wonderful and expanded perspective of the area for a few decades. It was wonderful experiencing the people of the county. Seeing their stories and photos grace the pages of local papers. Meeting them when they would come in to pick up shots of their sons or daughters at this or that game or award. I would meet them at the Times Information booth at the Howard County fairgrounds and other events each year. I could see new places through the lens of our photographers.

But now it’s time for me to start documenting the county and maybe mixing in some older shots along the way where it’s of historical interest.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like writing in the mornings, but it’s a little tougher after being up all night.
  • Watching basketball makes me want to get outside and shoot. Someone page me when the temps hit 60+ degrees again. Go Terps
  • Learned about anchors today. Not the kind my Dad would think of being he was in the Navy.
  • That was an interesting call between Orange Julius and the Georgia election officials. It reminded me of a few conversations I’ve had in my life. And as I recall one of them, my statement to the VP was “I don’t care what that manager asked me to put in the report, it wasn’t the truth so I didn’t do it.”
  • Tip the people who work in your community. We are getting back in the habit of giving something to our recycle and trash teams. Buy a patrolman a coffee or the guy plowing your neighborhood streets. Maybe a bag of cookies for your mailman. Stop by and say hello and thank you to the guy opening and closing our parks and rec areas each day.
  • If I keep creating sections in this blog to fill with photos, I’ll be a happy camper.


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The 2021 workweeks begin

I was just getting mentally prepared for the workweek to begin this evening when I realized it’s the first one of the new year. In some ways I’m excited, and in some ways, I have fears about the coming year. Our company is doing well and the role our small group fills is still needed. The work I do has more than met their needs and then some so I don’t fear performance issues.

What I do worry about is what happens after June. I’m one of the extremely fortunate people that has been able to work from home. And so far June is the tentative date the office may reopen. And I’m sure that is subject to change as previous dates were. But at some point, if I look at a rosy medical future for all of us the office will reopen.

When will the sunset on my work from home life? I like this sunset from my front door. Photo by Mike Hartley

That is when it gets serious again. Do I want to do that commute to DC again? Well, that is one of the easiest answers in the world. Hell NO. Will I have the ability to convince the company to let me finish my career from home? Will I be able to turn my hate for that commute into background noise and resume that trip if needed? I only have a few more years and I’ll do what’s best for the family but I dread the day I’d have to get in the car on a cold winter day with precipitation falling and do a hundred mile round trip again.

Anyway, that isn’t till at least 6 months out so let’s concentrate on the near future. I have to start working on minimizing the impact of the night hours I work and then flipping back to a daytime schedule on the weekends. Eating better and trying harder to get some proper rest. Which means I’ve got to make an effort to get my body to cooperate. So I think I’ll start with a little treadmill and some exercises I saw that might do this body good.

But really as I’ve been writing this and thinking about the job that pays the bills, I’m also thinking of my own 2021 workweek. The goals and results from this are much more satisfying. And therefore deserve some attention and planning. So my hobbies and health are going to get a lot of attention this year.

One of my goals is to have a fresh image or series for each day’s post. And after a few days in a row of shooting, I’m starting to get up thinking about picking up the cameras and what I might do each day. Getting those creative juices flowing feels good.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like the Xmas lights in my basement. I don’t think I’ll take them down till next weekend.
  • When you have a moment to nap during the day you can’t. When you don’t have the time you could fall asleep in a second.
  • I love seeing wood take shape. Especially if it turns out better than I saw and thought.
  • I’m staying isolated as much as possible but I love taking a ride in the car.
  • Change is feeling good.


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Nap Day

The opportunity to take a long mid-afternoon nap presented itself today and I took it. It was easy sleeping with the rain outside. For a while when I woke I felt guilty because I felt I should have been up working on my interest with the little free time I have. Then I thought to myself, what the hell, it’s not like I nap much at all. Sleep is generally 3-6 hours a day at best, so a little extra to the norm can’t hurt.

Nature trying to hold the full moon the other night. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t set out to get more rest today but the longer the day went on the better the idea seemed. I think it’s from my back being tied in knots the last couple of days and today’s relief is going beyond the body but also the mind.

So while not the most productive day I’ll take the rest as a sign to begin the year with a little balance instead of firing out of the shoot. Saturday will be better because I’m going back to the early start. The rains will cease and I’ll get outside with the camera. And if I’m smart I’ll get out early and make a few cuts on some wood to start a few new designs.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This is the first winter where I have something more to worry about than the cold.
  • My goal of reading more was accomplished today. I’m hoping this rubs off on my writing this year.
  • You think of winter and you think of snow. The snow is white which is the absence of color. That describes winter for me. So maybe a good challenge is to look for color in the middle of winter.
  • Watching the college football playoffs in the middle of the pandemic is strange today.
  • The older you get the more you forget about challenging yourself and where you left your keys.
  • Don’t let your “to-do list” overwhelm your “wish list.”


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Now I’m ready

Feeling good today because the workweek is over and I’m in the mood to create. So a new year at the doorstep. The calendar changes. The ball drops. Some set off fireworks. People kiss and hug. Glasses are raised. Hope permeates the human spirit. Some pause and shed tears for those no longer able to celebrate with us.

Time to ring in a new year. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another few minutes till midnight. It’s going to be strange watching NYC without many people. I wish I had a lot more enthusiasm for the new year and I do in a lot of ways but I also have a lot of worry about it. Our realities have been altered and they changed forever for a lot of us.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have wonderful lives, wonderful times, accomplish wonderful things. It’s within all of us to make this a better place. I’m doing it for my children and grandchildren and because I feel it’s the right thing to do. So I think I’ll be thankful for what I have been given tonight.


Looking for that silver lining in 2020 I looked back and thought of the following.

Ironically at the beginning of the year last January I talked to my boss about working full time from home. It didn’t pan out at the time but low and behold March rolled around and I’ve been WFH since. And that means I’m saving wear and tear on my nice little Sportster who had issues with the roads in DC anyway. Also no parking cost. But the biggest part about that is the time saved on the drive back and forth of 2-3 hours a day in the car.

We had some caregiver tasks to attend to this year and working from home made that much more manageable. If both of us were still working out of the home it would have been impossible. But I’m so glad it was possible for the family and the mother. It made significant time available to share, with what turned out to be a shorter time than expected.

I have a deeper appreciation for life and what is important in it. I have a much-increased level of respect for the people in the medical and service professions. Not that I didn’t before but what they have done over the past year is the definition of heroic and continues to be every day of the week.

I learned a lot more about people in general. Some good and some bad. I got to know my home a lot better and I like it here. I learned the main reason I eat out at restaurants was the food comes hot out of the kitchen. I learned some will disregard their health and those around them because of politics. I learned you just have to keep trying regardless of the circumstances.

I have a lot of love left to share and I hope I have a lot of time to do it in.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Remarkable effort doesn’t always result in remarkable rewards unless you count the journey.
  • Time to laugh, time to cry. Time to reflect and look forward. Time to say thanks for the time given joy for the time ahead.
  • Expanding my mind recently. Don’t worry, there is lots of room up there.
  • Well, I think I’ll do some reading to ring in the new year being I’m the only one awake.


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Paused again

I was watching one of the many “In Memorandum” features on the news of all the notable people who have passed this year. It reminds me of how fast life moves past all of us. Many of the names and faces marked special times in history for me. It reminds me to make the best of each day and appreciate those important to me even more. But it also reminds me to work hard on what is important.

Life and death. Photo by Mike Hartley

Having lost a few close people this year is a more personal reminder. And many more have lost those close to them in unexpected ways and times and they have my sympathies and condolences.

I never did get wrapped up in much of the celebration mode of the New Year. I’ve enjoyed a few blowout parties but not in years, maybe decades. Even though I do understand the marking of time and maybe a renewed start and a reason to let off some steam. And if there were a reason to have a drink, this might be the year. But really we have much work to do in front of us so don’t get too toasted tomorrow night.

Maybe with the parties tapped down this year, fewer people will lose their lives on the road. Maybe you will hug someone a little closer this year. Or maybe postponing a hug. It’s strange times and ones that will change the coming years ahead.

All I know is I’m glad to be alive. I’m glad to have made my way in the world and getting my behind in gear to help others in that regard.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Children have the most innocent laughs. And the most contagious.
  • Some people will continue to take advantage of others, no matter how unethical.
  • You know how I quantify a successful day now. If I make my grandchild laugh.
  • Reading is fun. Learning is really fun.
  • Funny how much acting and posturing is going on over what has been decided.
  • Tomorrow we get back on track because the job that pays the bills will be behind me for a few days.


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Tight Spot

Do you ever find yourself in a tight spot? Well, today is one of them for me. My back is going through some gyrations today that are new to me. Might be time to visit a doctor after all this virus stuff is over. Of course, I dread what is going to be proposed again.

Release my spine now. Photo by Mike Hartley

Such is life, everyone has some issues that take us to the body shop from time to time. It’s interesting how different people handle pain. Hell, there are days I handle differently. Some days I have to willpower to power through with some effort. Some days I don’t even let it in the picture, even though it’s always there. Others, like today its inescapable and front and center. Well actually back and from neck to tailbone.

Those are the days I fight the temptation for meds. Thankfully I don’t have too many of those days but the frequency is increasing with age and activity. I’ve seen problems people have from relying on medication and I’m not going that route. I’m not saying it’s their fault, I’m just saying I’ll seek other alternatives before I’m sucking down painkillers each day.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I started another good post earlier but wanted to put some more into it so now I’m left with this pitiful post.
  • New Year’s Eve and Day look to be very wet here. Good sleeping weather in my book.
  • The more I accomplish the more I want to accomplish.
  • I think I’ll go out to lunch tomorrow (carry-out) but leave a nice tip.
  • The election is over, that’s a FACT JACK.
  • My goal tomorrow is to turn a small gift into a big one. I got some new large photo print paper as a gift and now I’m going to make some large prints and hopefully make more gifts.


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Monday musings

Some days start well. Some days don’t and this was one of them. So that calm mood I’ve been in has gone and won’t be back today. Hey, every day can’t be the best. As they say with the good comes the bad and that is true of all of us.

Usually, when I get in a foul mood I have trouble writing about something positive. Hell, I have trouble writing period when things aren’t going well. So is it better to write nothing instead of maybe being negative? I don’t have the answer but felt the need to write and share an image or two so I’m sorry for the lack of proper attitude today.

The technical term is steel cut masonry nails. I just call them hard ass nails. Photo by Mike Hartley

I do know when I get down I withdraw. And I’m comfortable with that in some ways but not here. I don’t like the feeling where I don’t want to write or photograph or create something. So I think I’ll pick up the camera and just start shooting and see if I can turn things around tonight. If nothing else I’ll get some practice.


In a meeting with some coworkers the discussion of giving, came up. And I was glad to hear to a man everyone had increased giving this year. I’m not going to preach what organizations to give to. There are countless good ones. If you have questions about a charity this is a good check for them – Charity Navigator. But I will encourage you to think about those less fortunate and act if it is within your means.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love college basketball. Go Terps
  • Making use of things is important, we have become too disposable and it’s catching up with us.
  • I’m seeing the end of year deluge of request for donations. That is the only bad part about donating. Once you do they hound you relentlessly.
  • I think I’ll withdraw into my own world a little more. I find it more comfortable there.
  • I should have taken a minute to appreciate how nice it was outside today.
  • It wasn’t just another year but it was just another year.
  • Having a full-time job takes a lot of energy and time away from things I love.


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That blank page

Sometimes when I sit down to start a post the blank page in front of me gives me pause. I guess it’s that self-doubt I carry around that intimidates me for a few seconds. Will I come up with something creative or interesting? What images should I use? Do I spend some precious time on design? Do I even know what I’m talking about and will putting words to paper remove all doubt that I don’t.

And then I put my first few words down and I’m off. And that fear and pause I have is dissipated and fades away and I start to smile as the fingers go off on their own. The mind wanders and I try to catch some thoughts and ideas as it races around the track in my head.

At peace with myself. Photo by Mike Hartley

And then at the end, I start to worry again before I hit the publish button. I know my English skills leave a lot to be desired. I know some of the pictures are amateurish. I might not have the interesting idea or take on it that I thought I had when I started the post and I pause again. Sometimes saving it as a draft, sometimes trashing work, sometimes more edits or photo changes.

I think about the posts I’ve read and how well written and talented you all are. I read some and the education and background provide insights and knowledge to me I previously lacked and wondered if I could ever do something like that for someone else?

I’m not a wealthy man in monetary means so I’m not a big traveler. So are people going to want to see images from small towns and the state of Maryland constantly? My career choice is somewhat interesting but I’m not retired yet so talking about it could be risky. I’ve had some medical challenges but so has most of the world. I’m no master at being the head of the family, an illusion my better half pretends to let me have.

I love to joke and laugh and I think I’m good at keeping friends and family entertained at times. But I’m not a comedian. And I’m kind of intimidated to try it here even though I’d love to try to write comedy. I try sneaking something into my posts from time to time.

Regardless of how well my work is received or not, I have found I love doing it. But now I’m going to venture further and really try to make some significant steps. I’m going to try to be more well-read in topics I choose to wade into. I’m going to challenge my photo skills by first utilizing some time with books. I read a post a few weeks ago that suggested instead of more gear, try some books on the profession. So I’m starting with something called “The Photographers Playbook” and I also have gotten out a very old set of Time/Life books on Photography and hope to read every day from now on. Like I’ve said before, I’d like to get a good jump on my retirement career.

The last few days I’m on a roll and shooting more. Not successfully but by mistakes, you learn what not to do at least. I’m trying to get rid of what I call Old Man Finger. Having shot film for many decades, I still have that conservative finger when hitting the shutter button. And no matter how many times I remind myself to just keep shooting (because it’s digital) when I’m trying to photograph my granddaughter who defines the term “constant motion” I still pause and try to catch that exact moment I want and often am too early or two late instead of just shooting a burst.

So this coming year I hope some efforts to better educate myself yields some better quality work here. I did learn a few things in my long career in Newspapers. And one of them is “Content is KING.” In other words, if you’re putting out good work, they will come. So I’m not going to sit here and put out a bunch of goals for the coming year on the number of posts or amount of followers I’d like to add. I just want to improve and time will tell me if it’s working or not.

So good morning all, have a great day. It’s time to have some French Toast this fine Sunday morning.

So I like a little extra powdered sugar. Hey, I went very easy on the syrup. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m thinking more about fostering a cat this coming year.
  • I want each day from now on to count for something special.
  • Coming off a week of vacation to return to work tonight is a rude thought to end the year with. But what the hell, it is one of those years.
  • My sister-in-law returns home today. It was nice having her visit for a few days and it was good for my better half. I do worry we won’t see her as often now though. And that would be a loss because she is a sweet woman.
  • My desk needs cleaning, as it has for a while now. Maybe I can embarrass myself into doing it.


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Maybe

Maybe just maybe, I’ll be able to accomplish a few more dreams. I’m starting to make some changes to make that possible. For a while, I forgot to dream or imagine what I would want. Or if I did I didn’t allow myself the chance at it again. Now I’m visualizing it more and making small steps in that direction. The time to create, blog, the photographs was increased by cutting out some real time-wasting activities.

Store window in Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got off the couch and from that glazed over staring at the big screen. I’m starting to use the technology when I can to reduce the viewing time needed. Recording some and FF through the commercials. I’ve watched a bit less news and that is ok because I still feel informed.

I planned in some spots. When I got the inspiration I went into my workroom and sketched a few patterns out for cutting later. I patiently went through some older photo directories and found a few things I like that I hadn’t used in the blog before.

It’s good to leave each day smelling good. Photo by Mike Hartley

I charged all the batteries in the cameras early yesterday and have a day’s shooting of the family to download this evening. Then I’m going to do some more shooting tonight. Mostly inside because the weather outside is freezing. But I’ll be out mid-week shooting some of the local light displays.


Some things I’ve learned recently – or just had reinforced

  • The grieving process is as diverse as the individuals processing it.
  • If your lucky, there is no end of pride to be given to you, by your children.
  • I like pictures of people without masks instead of with.
  • Even though applications might be set for checking for updates and making them doesn’t mean it’s happening.
  • Intelligence should be shared and not just acquired.
  • It’s good to get learning more actively again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ll celebrate New Years’ when all my family and friends get vaccine shots later next year.
  • I see Orange Julius would rather play golf than help the citizens he was elected to serve.
  • I think I’ll try to work on my memorization but trying to remember song lyrics so I can sing along better to tunes I like. Today I tried to memorize Brothers in Arms.
  • A well operating heat source is not to be underappreciated today.


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I remember when

Well, we made it to Christmas morning. It’s nice not to be working for a change. Some holidays I don’t mind having to work but Christmas isn’t one of them. I’m so glad that this isn’t a year that falls on my work nights. I’m emotionally drained and I’m even dreading returning Sunday night.

Wrapping helper? Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s early morning now and I remember when I’d still be wrapping the last few gifts for my better half. Oh yeah, that is what I’m doing up now. And yes she does all the wrapping for the kids. But the real memory was the excitement of the children when they were young. Those early years will always be special. They would wake early, some years testing if we were awake or not and just talking outside our door about whether to come in or not. Some years edging down the hallway and peeking into the family room. Then there were a few that just found them in the room and on the bed and declaring it was time and they couldn’t wait any longer.

Beaverbrook Photo by Mike Hartley

I remember when we used to take the kids to Rainforest Cafe Xmas week and then we would drive around Howard County and look at the Christmas lights after the meal. My better half loved that. There are lots of special memories each family shares. Sometimes a special dish for the meal. Some give unique gifts. There is always one with the ugly sweater who is the life of the party.

And I could go on with examples galore, but this years holiday to many is different or missing many of the usual trappings and more importantly the people. And on the surface, it doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from trying to celebrate the best possible way but you know it’s affecting many.

So as they say, keep putting one foot ahead of the other and repeat.


Random Thoughts on Christmas Morning

  • You miss some people more on Christmas than most other days of the year.
  • I got all the gifts I need before I even unwrap any today.
  • If you don’t know giving is the real meaning of Christmas you missed the point. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have that giving and compassionate spirit all the days of the year?
  • Christmas’s meaning has changed a lot over the years for me. Some years the spiritual aspects have been prominent. Other years the focus on our young children’s joy. One year my better half accepted my proposal. One year when I was young the 3 of us just sat at the tree and cried for a very long time before even opening a gift. Some years I’d be driving home on Christmas morning at 5 or 6 am from working all night and have to be bright and chipper in a few hours. This year is very different also with the loss of my mother and father-in-law. So memories of them will dominate parts of the day. Some will remain unspoken and private and special. Some memories might be shared out loud. I’m sure more tears will flow.
  • May everyone have a very special day and make the best of a tough situation this year.


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Never ahead, never behind

Blogging so far is something I’ve never been ahead of in terms of having posts ready to go in advance. I’ve had trouble keeping a daily routine I had hoped for let alone have one or more ready to rock and roll ahead of time. And today for the first time that I can remember, I have a post ready for tomorrow. And you know what, it felt good. So I started another one, this one.

And I thought to myself this was a good transition to make. I was never ahead for the first 6 years and now I think I’ll shoot for never behind. So that might require a different mindset given that I’ve always written pretty much in the present. Maybe I’ll try my hand at some poetry. I know a few friends who just read that cringed and said out loud “DON’T DO IT MIKE” because in my past I used to tinker with it but it was some fairly crude stuff, but in my defense, everyone seemed to laugh a lot. What can I say, I was young and dumb once also. So I guess I’ll work on some other ideas later tonight.

No tall spotlights needed. Nature provides the best light. Photo by Mike Hartley

So no more sitting on the sidelines. My mojo is somewhere around here. And once I track that sucker down 2021 doesn’t stand a chance. I’m enjoying finding a few old images and am excited about going out for new ones. I don’t know what has happened but I’m feeling like my creativity made a comeback.


I was watching an interview with Sir Paul McCartney recently and he was asked if when a Beatles tune came over the radio if he turned it down, turned it up, or turned it off. He answered that it took him back to the time when it was being made. Where bandmates were in the studio or a feeling. He was smiling about the good memories that it brought back. And this is what my photography does for me. It takes me back to those moments, and thankfully they are wonderful moments for the most part. Shared times with family, friends, nature, moments in time. I don’t think anyone gets more enjoyment out of my photos than I do.


I’m pretty sure by now my better half is tired of me being home all the time. You see lots of families struggling in confined spaces and with the winter season, it’s a test we haven’t yet faced during the pandemic. I was actually talking to one of my best friends about meeting outside this winter around a fire pit. Now if you know me at all you know I HATE being COLD. And no matter how nice a firepit roaring outside might feel and sound, the only time I’d be comfortable would be the second or two before I would be catching fire from being so close to the pit.

And you thought you were cramped at home. Photo by Mike Hartley

I will power through it because I’d much rather see my friends and laugh together than over a Zoom call, but I do have my limits with cold and precipitation. So the day after Xmas I’ll be ordering a fire pit. That will give us two meeting spots. Oh crap, that means I’m going to have to split that cord of logs I have sitting on the side of the house.


More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some people have an amazing power to do just as much or more even when they aren’t feeling good.
  • I took my car out for a quick spin yesterday. There is nothing like driving a stick shift because driving a manual is driving. Plus I told the kids when Dad starts missing gears take his keys away.
  • Can you imagine how crowded the first live concerts are going to be once things start returning to normal?
  • Is it wrong to bring your favorite outdoor lounge chair inside and use it during the winter?


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The calm

I’m going to hunker down and hopefully ride out that storm that is coming through. Not really what we need on Xmas eve. I have to get my behind outside and secure the lights better and bring things inside. Might just leave them unplugged with gusts of 50mph expected. That flood watch is a nice treat also. I guess we have to take a little bad with all the good we have in the “Land of Pleasent Living” aka Maryland.

I’m just hoping the power stays on with the temps taking a massive drop on Friday. I may have jinxed us though. I was chatting with a neighbor as we cleared our driveways of snow last week and commented that it’s been a good year in keeping the power on.

I love being at the beach when storms roll in. The view and distances and far greater than I have at home with all the tall trees.

Bethany Beach. Photo by Mike Hartley


Wrapping a few gifts will feel good. Picking up a cherry candy cane feels good. Seeing the kids smile will feel great. But the loss of loved ones might be an equalizer to what should be a joyous time. The chance to process loss is stunted by the busyness of the holiday. The holiday brings thoughts of people walking through the door that won’t be. A favorite dish that will be missing. An encompassing embrace, kiss, and smile that went right to your heart lost. The tight grip on your hand in a certain way for a longer than normal time and warmth it translated isn’t there this year.

Our ranks are diminished. All 2021 will be is a series of birthdays and holidays and anniversaries that are changed. Having lost my parents before my in-laws, more time has passed and allowed me a different perspective. The loss hurts and it always will, it just hurts differently now. I do have more smiles now than I did in the past when I look at their pictures. Christmas, their birthdays, and mine and dates they passed are the most difficult times, but also times I feel happy thinking about them again instead of just the hurt of missing them.

Then your own children step up and their children start to help take the place of the missing pieces and allow you to enjoy life and events again. And now when those waves of emotions hit they sometimes have a chuckle and smile at the end of it instead of a feeling of depression. But this year, we take a few steps back. We learn to miss what was never missing. We learn how to support each other in new ways. We are strong for our children who are also missing grandparents.

We will think, we will love, we will cry, and maybe we will laugh. I think I heard Jim Valvano say that if you think, are brought to tears, and laugh that you have had a full and wonderful day.

Losing sight. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have one wish for today and tomorrow. That my power stays on.
  • The more I get up and move the better I feel at that moment. It’s later I worry about.
  • So much to be thankful for, I just have to smile.
  • I’m almost at the point where I’m keeping up with my followed posts daily again. Noticed I said almost.
  • I’m starting to make a dent in the things I would hate to leave undone or unsaid.


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Marvelous, simply marvelous

Top of the day to everyone. I’ve blinked my eyes and the year has vanished except for a few straggling days. But I hope to make the best use of them and close 2020 strong. In some ways, this isolation is helping me learn a little more about myself. Hey, if nobody else is around I can’t blame anyone for not getting my lazy behind in gear.

Instead of taking the waves standing up, I need to start diving into them. Some years I’ve attacked them but this past year I didn’t utilize my abilities as best I could. So I’m utilizing these last few days of 2020 to build some momentum into the new year. Trying to work smarter and harder, more focused on constant practice and finishing projects and ideas.

About to be overwhelmed or NOT. Photo by Mike Hartley

There was a couple of life-changing events this year and it will be different going forward. I’m afraid people aren’t getting the message despite all the suffering about how precious life is. If you want to see how little it matters to some, just take a ride in the car.

I think I’ll try to make 2021 count for something more. It’s time I got to thinking more about the environment and helping it instead of hurting it. I’m going to try to increase my donations and if this virus stuff clears I’m going to start volunteering some time. I want to not just be a good father and grandfather I want to be a great one.

I’d like to take a giant step towards becoming a better photographer. There are some big projects around the house to complete this coming year. I’d like to work from home for the remainder of my current career. (that will be a nice one if I can make it happen)

As the sun almost sets on another year. Photo by Mike Hartley.

But hell, I’ll be happy just to survive another year, drive to the ocean with the top down and witness some more sunsets on the bay in OC like this or sunrises on the ocean Atlantic ocean in the morning.


I’m going to try to reach out to my last remaining immediate family member again. I hope to get a reply. I worry I won’t. I worry about her. Some people’s lives are far more difficult than others. I’m going to keep trying each day. I just want to know she is safe.

I’ve seen other families struggle with the same issue. Family members separated in many ways. I wonder if people think about when it might have been a different and good time around the holiday season? I know I’ve always missed my parents during the holiday seasons after their passing. But having living family members who aren’t in touch is a different kind of missing.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is something enjoyable about going to bed just before or after sunrise, even when your old.
  • Listen to the music, and then listen to some more. If you aren’t dancing listen to some more. There you go, move those hips like Jagger.
  • For parents watching children and thinking it’s getting overwhelming at times due to the pandemic, stop and think about the time when things are getting back to normal and you wish you had more time with your children.
  • Time to get the cameras cranked up again.
  • Remember to start easing your pets into a new routine before you have to return to the job full time if you are one of the ones lucky enough to be working from home now.
  • Shine on you crazy diamonds.


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Warm thoughts

Even though it is the second day of winter my mind is in a warm spot. Mainly because I was going through some old photos of friends and a fishing trip we took to Florida a long while back. I’m in the process of finding some of my best friend’s images and events and covering an office wall with them. Can’t wait for them to be able to come over again in the future where they can look and laugh. If they find something they like that I haven’t given them already, I’ll just give them a bigger print.

Just after sunset with a few street lights on early. Photo by Mike Hartley

I really hope to start getting the use out of this Canon printer. It’s a nice one and I love having that ability at the tip of my fingers. Yeah, it’s not professional quality printing but it’s fine by me and most people seem to love them. It feels good to really get moving again. I guess having a few relaxed minutes to devote to the task is a lot more satisfying than doing it in seconds or minute intervals at times.

So back to those warm thoughts. My mind wandered to the day that it might be possible to return to the beach safely again. Yes I know I can still go to the beach anytime I want, but to stay and relax and interact with people is what I’m thinking. I’ve always liked the look of this B&B called the Abby Sea in Bethany Beach and I’m going to add it to our list of places to try in the future.

All you can do now somedays is hope for the opportunity to do something on your list at some point in the future. And that moving target is getting depressing to many. I think it’s ok to drift into some fantasy thoughts of something that might be totally out of grasp now or even in the next year. But having hope for it will make it that much sweeter one day when it’s possible again.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The shopping is finished today.
  • Many days I miss having a motorcycle. But cold winter days aren’t one of them.
  • There are only so many opportunities that come by in a lifetime. They are measures by the days on the calendar you can cross off.
  • I think we had better get better at adapting to change because it’s coming fast and furious again.
  • I wonder how many Xmas wishes came in for “just let the family be safe.”
  • I’ve gotten the stay inside part of hibernating down, now if I could do better at the sleeping all winter part I’ll be in business.


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Late again

I haven’t had a chance to get the battery out of the rider yet and obviously by this picture below I’m late again in my efforts. Now at least I have an excuse not to do it till this stuff melts which I hope is soon. It’s just been one of those years. Well, maybe I should have said one of those kinds of years. Or maybe better yet one of those years of a lifetime.

My Snowy Shed. Photo by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately, its been and continues to be a devastating year for so many. I’ve been trying to work with family and friends to maintain some sense of normalcy but at the same time have people be safe. And I struggle with this greatly because I’m probably much more cautious than others. So I’m in situations that I find uncomfortable from time to time.

I can’t wait for the day I can relax again. But until then I’ll just make the best of the situation possible. And hopefully, that will be this week when I have a few days off. I got a great start on a few projects and I’m going to keep it going.


I find myself apologizing for the absence of posts the last month or two. I’m going to try to get back on that daily train and keep my ridership up to par. It’s a far more difficult task than I imagined. Not because I find it difficult to do when I start it’s finding those few minutes to get cranked up and crank out a useless gem.

Cumberland Station Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s not because I’m a slow typist. I’m fairly fast. It’s not for a lack of images or thoughts rambling around in this mixed up head. I used to think it was about making it the highest priority but we all know that is a false goal because there are far more important things in life.

And that is the key, finding the way to do all those critical things (family, friends, and work) and still find a few minutes for your own priorities and interest. I’m going to try a few changes and see if this makes it easier for me to accomplish my goal. Instead of posting late, usually, just before midnight I think I’m going to do a morning post. I’m trying to set up a little studio space in the basement when I don’t feel good enough to get out and shoot or when it’s just too inclement.

I hope to be entering a period when I can be under a little less stress which also makes the ideas and thoughts flow much better. Hopefully, it will inspire a more positive tone also. And then there is the big step of learning all the tools available to make this an easier and more entertaining visit.

But in the meantime, I send my thoughts out to the many struggling through a somber holiday season and my wishes that future ones be bright again.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The effort really shows no matter where you choose to make it.
  • Wearing headphones to start the day’s music off is so limiting. I can’t get up and play air guitar freely. But others need their beauty sleep. I don’t know why though, she is the prettiest thing on earth.
  • I cherish some of the notes I kept from my children when they were young.
  • After a short time, I’ve got to find a way to get the family to celebrate life again.
  • Do you ever have the random thought “I need bacon” just pop in your head? Please tell me I’m not alone.
  • I think I went too long without change because some of it as of late feels very good.


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Thoughts

So many thoughts in the last 36 hours. So many plans changed. So much pain inflicted because these are far from normal times and normal activities aren’t permitted. Not being able to be with a loved one in their last weeks and moments might be one of the more difficult ones. And the thought of them alone without family is unbearable. But they are not alone. There is usually a team of medical people around them. No not their family but people with feelings and compassion and an amazing ability to be there for those in need in a hospital.

Just like when the medical training they received kicks in during emergency situations I believe their human abilities are also called into action and this is the special blessing all these nurses and doctors and staff and administration have. A strong level of compassion that makes a person passing at ease. We met a few of these nurses Thursday night. We had never met before but they were very comforting to us and by their account, they were comforting to her. And I looked into their eyes and I believe that in my heart that was true and was thankful for them.

This scene is being thrust upon these medical people and it’s not like their job wasn’t difficult before this. So thank you to the staff at St Agnes Hospital last evening.

RIP Mom and Dad, say hello to my parents please. Photo by Mike Hartley

But back to the process of grieving. There is no process. Those normal support systems and rituals are changed. And there isn’t much that can be done in certain situations. And it has to be accepted as hard as it is for families. I don’t know what would be equal to this kind of thing.

I’ve done a little reading about this because it’s impossible to avoid the hundreds of thousands of people dying without being able to be with family. You see news stories on it and a lot of people are experiencing it. Even the people without the virus who are sick and passing are affected as it was for us.

Early on in the pandemic with a lot of older people passing I was intrigued by how close long-term couples would pass so close together. Even before the virus, this seemed to occasionally hit the news. I saw the terms like the widowhood effect or broken heart syndrome used. I believe I witnessed this in the last few months. Despite a valiant effort by the family, I think her heart just wanted to be with her husband who preceded her. And after a few months, I guess they couldn’t stand to be apart any longer after over 6 decades together.

It’s going to be a very different holiday season this year. Every family experiences loss and all are faced with these tough times. This year they have been very different and added a level of stress and pain that was avoided in previous years. And again people are going to face it more alone and isolated time from each other when the opposite is the norm for this coming holiday.

So keep holding on, support each other any way possible, find the pictures with their smiles and put them in your heart.


Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Letting my fingers do my talking makes more time for listening. But I do enjoy talking also as my friends and family can attest to.
  • I could get a lot more done if my back would cooperate.
  • Good art is good art no matter what medium. And good art comes from the pleasure of the eye of the creator and beholder.
  • I should get my behind outside and take some fog pictures this morning because we are socked in.
  • If I don’t start working on proper posture, I won’t have any left to mold.
  • I’m blessed with some really good friends.


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So fast

You start the week thinking will the weekend ever get here. Everyone is working for the weekend in some fashion. Weekends to recoup and regroup. And then you blink your eyes and suddenly those weekends are numbered before retirement when every day becomes a weekend. A number that doesn’t seem that great.

I’ve always loved weekends, be they short or long, be they wet or dry, warm or cold. Time to lay in bed with your better half. Time to do some chores about the home and relax afterward instead of getting up and going to work or cutting sleep short.

You all know how fast weekends go by. And now I know how fast careers go by. Yes, I have a retirement career planned out but it’s much different than the standard work life I’ve had for over half a century. I have a few years left but it feels like a few short weekends, to be honest. Workweeks fly by now almost like they have been accelerated. Weekends feel more satisfying because there is a really big weekend on the horizon.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t believe life has moved along so fast. I want to go back and do it all over again. Sort of like feeling the best amusement ride and wanting to get right back on as a kid. I have so much to be thankful for, and at the same time, some pain went along for the ride. But that is just life.

So what to do today to get busy with life? It’s cold out so that ruled out opening the front door. Seems like I just get up and the sun starts to set and the full night of work will be on the horizon. So there are still precious minutes to be used.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • As Ron White said, “You can’t fix stupid.” But it is a lot easier to spot it nowadays.
  • I find myself stopping to say a prayer for someone who has said many for me. Even if I made it a daily habit I’d never catch up to her.
  • It’s good to reprioritize through life. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Pick someone and try to ease their worry. They aren’t hard to find.


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Pause

Today I’m taking a pause. One might ask from what? I’m not sure of the answer, all I know is I need to let my mind rest a bit. Yeah, I have to work a full night. Yeah, I’ve got some bills to review. I’ve got dinner to fix and I probably will be disturbed by the news. But I’ll be in a different mental state. I’ve had several emails and chat’s today but the only thing that matters was hearing my daughter’s voice and my better half’s voice and eyes. And if my son calls I’ll have drawn a royal flush. Sometimes it’s good just to break down a day into small victories and not let them pass insignificantly along with the thousands of interactions of the day.

Hold on. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s hard to jump off that moving train but that is what is needed more now than ever. Think of how stress filled the holidays usually are. Now add the madness of what we are in the middle of. I can’t imagine what the next month will be like. So I’m just going to pause a few times a day and regroup. Think smart, make due, and not get pulled by the seat of my pants into despair.

So many things give me pause that just come out of nowhere. Children, sunrises and sunsets, horses running in a field, a beautiful Harley, or classic hot rod. The sounds of waves hitting the beach, listening to the quiet when it snowed.

Lately, a few people I know have passed and that has given me pause. I also worry about a few living people and that has given me pause. And I’ve taken the time to reach out to a few and have a few more to touch base with soon.

So take the pauses you need to stay fresh, help yourself and then help others. I think I’ll take a pause and go kiss my better half good night.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tonight I thought about how many more times I might be lucky enough to be putting lights on the tree.
  • It will be nice to get back to some REAL Facetime with people again.
  • Smile and laugh if you can. And if you can’t, fake it.
  • Success can be just as easy as letting yourself find it.
  • Pain takes away valuable time in life.


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Drumming to my own tune

Loved watching good drummers in my youth and to this day. The backbone of good bands. And just like a keyboard or bass or guitar or voice, it’s made unique by those who sit behind the set. Some small, some monstrous sets. Some large and some small individuals. I remember my Mom talking about Gene Krupa and I remember seeing Buddy Rich on Carson. And of course, I’ve followed the history of the biggest and smallest bands drummers. A wonderful list too long to go through but a blessing to listen to and see sometimes live. I started down this train of thought only because I saw that Neil Peart’s 2112 drum set is up for sale. But what the hell, go with it as they say.

Drum set in window of Bill’s Music in Catonsville. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m using music to keep my spirits up. Even though I’m not a big holiday music fan I might even indulge in that this year. I’m also trying to change the beat in my home by mixing up my living space a bit. Nothing drastic yet, just some small changes.

And why not change up my focus a bit. It’s always wise to work on what can be done instead of worrying about what is wrong. I’ve been trying to help my in-laws through some difficult times. I’m trying to be there for friends and I always try with my own family but I can always do better.

Good progress was made this weekend but a price physically is being paid. That’s ok, powered through things before and this will be one of them. Back to work tonight and I think a change of workspace is needed. I wonder if they make good posture chairs with built-in heating pads?


I decided to make an egg for myself and this image presented itself in the pan. It sort of reminds me of the guy who is redefining the term bad loser. I bet his eyes were that big on election night. And yes that was my second double yoke egg out of that dozen.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • 2,403 US personnel died on December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. Yesterday December 6th, 2020 the running 7-day average daily death toll from the virus was 2,169 in the U.S. We came together as a nation then, why can’t we now?
  • I was saddened by the passing of a former CIO who was both a smart and charming person and a battler against many medical challenges. May you RIP Bobbi Lucas.
  • I’ve gotten my printer cranked up this weekend and that is great for redecorating the walls of my office.
  • Did anyone else notice the tougher things get, the more religious people tend to become?
  • I’m tempted to get another camera but won’t until I learn to use the ones I have better.


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We got this

Good rainy morning to all. I was teaching my granddaughter about raindrops that were falling on the patio table glass outside and making many waves against each other yesterday. I started singing raindrops keep falling on my head and maybe got a verse out before I ran out of words but I kept humming and she was bouncing up in my arms and smiling. I kept humming it till she wanted to move onto the next thing. I kind of wish I could have remembered the words because I think she likes it when I sing. Maybe the only person. Maybe next visit when it rains I’ll get the words.

It was a dreary Friday and very wet Saturday morning before sunrise but I’m starting to see light. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday was very productive. I was proud I was able to still crawl in and out of a children’s tent without hurting myself or destroying the tent. I’ve got several weeks of images moved to the portfolio and I hope to get several more completed. And the house smelled of bacon which I love.

I was able to start a few concepts for woodworking projects and today I’m going to go outside once daylight hits and make some initial cuts with the saw to work on inside later. I feel the creative juices working. Let’s see how the execution plays out. Everyone has to start somewhere. And it’s been a very long time so that bike ride might be an interesting one to start. I’ll consider it a success if I come out with all my fingers attached.


Exercise bands are beautiful if you don’t stress them out. Just like people in a lot of cases. While I’m feeling creative I’m also feeling stressed. I’m trying to remember what is the small stuff and keep putting as much as I can in that bin. But then I turn around and see a pile. I guess I should keep shoveling. I’m thankful that so far to have stresses that we can handle and get through, even though they have been very challenging. I worry though about our children and their children. And therefore every child of someone.

Having age and wisdom gives us calm and knowledge we will get through this if we are smart and thoughtful. We were steeled by the experiences of our own parents who lived through the great depression and multiple wars. There are a lot of families that need help this season though. Let’s help them. Pick one, let your church pick one, donate to an organization that can feed one. And if you’re fortunate pick more than one. And be there for our younger generations, help them be safe and focus on what we have instead of what we might be denied temporarily.

I wonder if we can all band together? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I labeled this section Random Thoughts of the Morning instead of my normal Random Thoughts of the Day because one of my thoughts was to try to make 2 posts today.
  • I think, if we thought of every Tuesday as “Giving Tuesday” we might be better for it.
  • The only thing better than the first Coke of the morning is the second one.
  • It also might build a better community if every Saturday were Small Business Saturday.
  • I could use a better quality slide scanner. I might have to send a few of the good ones out for professional service. My father snapped some great images when he visited both poles.
  • I have so much history to dig through at the same time wanting to create something new myself. Ah, the tug and pull of things to do. Isn’t it great?


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Isolation

I’m watching, excuse me, thinking about someone isolated from us medically who is dear. This is the second time this year and it is devastating to watch and be part of. The toll that takes on the person alone in care is one of the silent tragedies of this pandemic. The pain I see in families and friends can’t be measured.

All the normal routines are not possible at hospitals and care facilities. Rotating visits so they aren’t alone. Holding a hand. Being able to make eye contact. Hearing their voice or just them breathing. Sharing a laugh or bad hospital food. Looking at pictures and cards or the beauty of flowers sent by loved ones and friends together or remembering past experiences.

Or in the worst case, not being there as a calming presence for them to leave in peace.

Looking for another sole. Photo by MIke Hartley

Being able to thank the health care team face to face can’t be done except over a phone by most except maybe the one person allowed in. I’m sure the medical people miss the personal thank you’s and hugs from families. Hearing the news talk about medical staffing shortages due to infections/exposures or just the numbers of patients overwhelming the area hospitals and care facilities is so distressing when you have someone in their care. People should not be alone at critical points in life and death.

Rules on visitations change in levels of restrictions or just aren’t allowed. And I understand and accept them. What is better for the whole outweighs the needs of the one. I’ve always believed and lived by that as my parents taught me. But there is a real and painful flip side of that coin.

Alone with one’s thoughts. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m dismayed thought by the indifference towards all this suffering. No, not being able to eat out at a restaurant or attend a concert or a big party or football game. I’m talking about medical life and death kind of suffering. I can’t believe simple steps can’t be taken to benefit the whole. I can’t believe we can be so selfish. We have been faced with a great test and we have failed. And we are about to fail another exam in keeping the basics for large groups of people. Food and a roof over their heads to name the most important.

Children going to school is the least of our worries. How many aren’t getting a meal? How many are being abused or maybe just left alone because someone has to work two jobs to stay above water?

The emotional and physical problems brought on by stress over losing a job, maybe a loved one, and being ALONE. Help fight people’s feeling of Isolation.

Adrift. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying to reach out to people. More calls, more writing, more text. Just trying my part to keep my wide circle of people intact and healthy. And especially to the ones alone.

I was at my first Zoom memorial service this week. It was a wonderful event because it was a wonderful person being honored. But it was great to see so many people’s faces at the same event. Many smiling at parts and many crying at other times. And while I couldn’t reach over and grab a hand to comfort someone or put my arm around them, it was good to join together.

So do what you can not only to keep your loved ones safe but also think of the safety of those who are doing the important care of others. Communicate the best possible and with a positive thought about now and think about how much more special it will be when we don’t have to isolate ourselves from each other.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel guilty for not keeping up with many blogs I follow. Time to change that feeling.
  • I also feel guilty about not keeping my posting rhythm up to speed. I had better get to work.
  • You know what’s cool. Having a friend post a photo on Facebook you’ve taken of them and see a good number of people comment on what a good shot it is. And remaining silent about it because you took it in hopes of making that person happy and the comments add to their joy.
  • Finding old family images is like finding a diamond in a mine.


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A different Thanksgiving

Good day, all. Let’s be thankful we are still here. And if you were fortunate enough to have food on the table be very thankful. I’m sure this is such a different year for many people around the world and certainly in the states. A lot of which might be home alone or just with the family living in the same home.

Leg, check, wing, check, breast, check. EAT Photo by Mike Hartley

It might be a really good year to spend some time talking to family. Maybe the separation will make you appreciate the ability to get together and share as a family. Maybe it will translate to far fewer arguments and fights in the future. And then again, maybe not.

Long ago my Mom taught me an important lesson without saying a word. And that was to reach out to people and communicate through the written word. My Mom used letters and cards, and lots of them, I use email when I can’t have those direct communications, but the thing is we take the time to write. We share more than just surface thoughts. We share our hearts. What made her notes great was the positive focus. I’ve got to do that more.

I’m not a great writer or any master phycologist who can help every person with their problems. I just hope I’m there for them to try and to offer support if I’m not successful. It’s nice when you can help. Someone just was nice enough to say thank you for your thoughts and note just yesterday.

I’m just of the mindset more than I’ve ever been on trying to help in a variety of ways where I can.

I hope everyone had the best possible Thanksgiving Day and a healthy Friday ahead.


Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I bet turkey bacon isn’t on many breakfast plates this morning.
  • Older people are a great source of knowledge. You just have to make the effort to unlock it because it goes into storage earlier than one might think.
  • My body has been hiding a secret. It decided in the last month to try out for the role of Santa this year.
  • I tend to get behind on peeling off every day on my daily calendars. But then there are the times I just sit back and laugh at peeling off several days in a row because I like funny calendars.
  • Things are better when you focus on all the gifts you have instead of the ones you don’t. It gals me that those who have been given so much seem to complain the most.
  • I’m glad my children are patient with me. It helps and reminds me to have patience with others.


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Making someone smile

Life is good. You may ask how can I say that in these dire times. Well, I can’t argue they are dire. But thankfully some people are on a constant mission to make someone smile even in the darkest of times. I’m far from perfect in this mission but I do my best. I love to laugh, I love to make others laugh and I try to find humor in every day. I’m also trying to find more ways to help.

This is going to bring some smiles to some young person. Photo by Mike Hartley

All of us can see and feel the stress each day. The periodic runs on food and staples. The lines for virus tests or food lines going on for miles in areas of the country. The loss of income to millions is a crushing event making even shelter and food in jeopardy. Maybe a parent having to stop work for their children. Single parents without support systems are thrown into impossible choices.

Think of the doctors and nurses who hide their horror from each day’s sickness and death to smile at a patient through a mask or put a smile on their smock. They know if a patient keeps a good fighting spirit their chances could be better. And I imagine there are times when they know the patient isn’t going to get better and their families can’t be there with them and they give them a compassionate smile to help them feel at ease. Think of the strength that takes. Think of how much these medical people need to smile but can’t because of all the pain and suffering they experience each day.

Nurses Memorial in DC. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think of all the smiles we don’t see now because our faces are covered in masks. And I don’t say that negatively because they should be in masks. I’m still smiling under my mask as I pass people. But I’ve incorporated a head nod more now to acknowledge my fellow man. Because I remember nodding to people in adjacent cars stuck in traffic or maybe co-workers several cubes away too far to communicate with verbally without disturbing others. Maybe share a head nod with the cashier as you check out just in case she can’t hear through the mask and plexiglass.

I look at the many pictures on my walls of friends arm in arm smiling that I would like to be with and see the smile for real. I would like to see their smile instead of just the laughter through their mask or over the phone. I want to see my children smile after I hug them. But we must become patient and smart again.

I want to see the smile on my mother-in-law again instead of the confusion she now has because of the pandemic. I have so much sympathy for our elder generation. I’m in my 60’s and this is difficult for me some days just worrying about loved ones. I saw first hand early on what mental stress and toll it took on a senior family member. And it’s playing out millions of times over to deadly results.

It’s also affecting our entire service industry. Why would someone want to assume the maximum risk for minimum pay? Well right now they might be forced to but I’m sure more made or will make career exits to something else.

It’s changed mentoring and learning in professional environments. Communications have had to adapt.

How many empty chairs will their be. Photo by Mike Hartley

I would love to see both students and teachers smile again. I know both and it’s not a situation either want to be in. If it was just the teachers and students they might be able to work this out together. This thing is exploding in an adversarial way when all parties need to be working together.

There are only less than adequate and difficult options available to all except the elite/rich schools and even for them, it’s less than optimal. It flat-out sucks and it’s getting worse because expectations and needs aren’t what reality can meet. How do we make children and their teachers who are so dedicated to helping them learn and grow in ways that parents can’t happy for what can be done, and accept without hostility on what can’t be done, for a short period of time?

I watch the news now and I wait for that last 5-minute feelgood segment of some wonderful people making some wonderful contribution in many ways to keep society from falling apart to get the smile I need from watching the previous 25 minutes of news. There are so many making these types of contributions that I know we will get through it. But the selfishness, elitist individualism, and greed of some will make it difficult for those trying so hard.

I thought to myself who can I make smile. And I thought of my granddaughter who I was missing that day, a day we usually spend together. So I pulled out my old video camera and I got about 15 hats out because her new thing is hats. And I showed her my hat collection and asked her if we could try them on together when we see each other again. I heard she loved it and smiled. Mission accomplished.

Today onto more smiles being created for some adults. It won’t balance out all the pain but I hope it puts a dent in it. As my Mom would always remind me, “there are a lot more people worse off than you so feel good and help out.”


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t help but laugh at Rudy G.
  • I listened to the Terps basketball game on the radio today. It kind of reminded me of when I was a young kid.
  • How do you know when a contractor is lying. When he starts to tell you what time he is going to be here.
  • The house is starting to smell good.


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See and act

Saw a touching story on the hunger in this country yesterday. So it made me think I haven’t made a donation to the Maryland Food Bank in a bit so I did. I didn’t even ponder it. It’s nothing special. Millions are stepping up to help feed those less fortunate but I don’t feel the leadership of the country is even recognizing this at a Federal level.

Steak and Cake Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyone who can afford a meal like above even just a few times a year should also share the rewards they have been given with those less fortunate. And if you eat like that each day you can certainly think about those that are hungry and act. Once this pandemic is over I’ve been thinking of picking up where my father-in-law did. He used to volunteer for Meals on Wheels. That is a must-do when I retire from the main job in a few years. I like to drive anyway.

Usually, your first instinct is correct when it comes to seeing and acting. Sometimes it’s just hearing and acting. A yell of a child, or howl of an animal. The sound of a car crash. The scream for help.

And then there is that honker in front of your face leading the way. If you smell smoke you react instinctively. You can smell chemicals that are dangerous.

Your first instinct when seeing someone break down on the side of the road is to assist. But just about everyone drives by blindly. I try to do my share when I can.

Sometimes your instinct is just a glance. A homeless Veteran on the street looking as hard as the concrete he is sleeping on. You know that is WRONG.

Sometimes I’m disgusted with myself that I don’t help more. Don’t get me wrong, I stop and help a good bit, I donate money, my friends and family will always say I’m there for them in many ways. But could I do more, hell yeah? And more for strangers.

So I think I’ll stop worrying about the troubles of the day and see what I can do to help more.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Maybe if the treadmill were called “refrigerator”, I might be more inclined to use it.
  • Never wait to say those words from your heart to others. You never know when the opportunity will come around again if ever.
  • I can’t believe Taco Tuesday is over already.
  • Yeah, this is the weekend I need to pay some respects.
  • If pizza can be for breakfast, why can’t breakfast be for dinner?
  • There is a lot of wisdom in focusing life on the present.


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Sun and fun

I really like the warmth of that sun shining through my office window this morning. After that cloudy weekend, it’s nice to see the brightness again. What I won’t be seeing except on the TV this year are the Maryland Basketball teams. College basketball is my favorite spectator sport. And this is going to be really strange not attending a single game. I just wish them luck on getting the season going this Wednesday for the men and making it through the year.

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

College football looks like it is going to struggle to finish. and there are still a few more months of pro football to see if that can survive. I do give them an A for effort and I understand the economics involved. But if things continue to go south what is the tipping point?

Anyway, good luck to the Maryland Men’s and Women’s teams this year. Maybe it’s a good analogy for the future. Each year I get so excited about the prospect of the returning players mixed in with the new talent. Each year it’s a new mixture to assemble into a success. Each year fan’s expectations go sky-high. You walk into the stadium feeling you can win every game. But that isn’t realistic. You can’t win every game. Just like we have to be realistic now and adjust our expectations, needs, wishes, and hopes. We can still be happy. We can still try. But we have to be smart.


OK, a fresh start to the week. I’m trying hard to get reinspired. But in mud, I feel mired. The cold air is setting in and I feel the need to hibernate. But that would delay my goals and make me late. I need that lift to get me off the ground. I’m looking for that trigger to make it happen all around. So till then, I’ll do my best to try to press on. And at the end of the day, I’ll smile and hopefully say Ya Mon.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sound of rain overnight is like a sleeping pill.
  • Thinking of someone very special who’s in the hospital now.
  • I’ve got to make some decisions on some old things I’ve had around the home for a long time. No, not the better half, I’m keeping her.
  • I’m starting to appreciate this time at home from the job.
  • Sometimes my back tells me that doing something, is wrong right away and I’m thankful for those times. It’s when he plays the practical joke of letting me overdue it that an ugly price is paid.


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Thank you and Condolences

I learned of the passing of a member of my newspaper family yesterday. Bob Moon was the husband of Jean Moon, the General Manager of the Patuxent Publishing Newspaper chain located in Columbia Maryland. An Architect, Bob designed the Flier Building in Columbia where I worked for 17 years. His death has triggered a lot of memories for me and I’m sure many others.

Patrick’s Entrance for us old timers. Photo by MIke Hartley

I had started with the Times Newspapers when they were in Ellicott City on Main Street in an old run-down building that now houses LaPalapa, SuCasa Furniture, and Main Street ballroom. Yes, this was back in the ’70s. The age and character of the building matched the wild personalities on the inside. The place was blue-collar, rough, and tumble old school. Some might even say a bit of old country Howard County.

This was a full production facility. Pressroom, Mailroom, Engraving, Typesetting workers in production and with Editors, Writers, Designers, Salespeople, Truck drivers out front. The place was loud and dirty and it constant chaos. But I did love it also.

The Flier building view from Little Patuxent Parkway. Photo by Mike Hartley

In 1979 Patuxent Publishing purchased several of the Times papers, others closed or were sold to other buyers. The Times building was sold along with most of the equipment and like the Clampets we packed up our bags and headed to Columbia.

The Flier Building. I was beautiful with a flag on that pole and that tree in front blooming pink blossoms. Photo by Mike Hartley

There were many difficult days when this transition took place. First, we lost a lot of old friends. If memory serves me right before I look at the newspaper clipping I have on the wall of the sale we had a few hundred employees in EC. I think only about 60 of us were hired by Patuxent.

We had our tail between our legs because the competition had won and bought us out. Soon to be gone was the place where I learned my trade and a lot of people I loved working with. This transition was rough on both sides and took a lot of adapting by all involved. But two very different cultures and backgrounds soon developed into a new community of people working together. It was a wonderful transition to something that we all cherish dearly to this day even though decades have passed. Sometimes when your being handed a pass to Camalot you don’t really know it at the time.

Home for a few decades. Photo by Mike Hartley

The two buildings couldn’t have been any more different. Main Street was old and falling apart. The Flier building was brand new constructed in 1978 I believe. Main Street was dark and dirty. It was a brick building covered in many years of ink and newsprint dust. The Flier building was WHITE, clean, and pristine and didn’t smell bad. It has so many windows, some floor to roof, and skylights letting the days light and added a beautiful feel to the space inside. It had angles on top of angles, big staircases, and tall open ceilings in much of the upstairs.