THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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What about after

I using a writing challenge for the month of January to get me going again and posting each day, so far so good. But what happens when those thought teasers stop coming? What about February 1st? Panic setting in. Well, maybe some future planning will advert the days the creative juices aren’t working and save the day.

Running any kind of daily operation takes planning. I should know, I work for one in the job that pays the bills. There is a hell of a lot of advanced planning and preparation. So I have my work cut out for me but I plan on continuing this throughout my life because it’s one of those things that is going to keep me young and active. Sort of like my father-in-law did with running. But instead of my shoes, I’ll run off at the keyboard.

This was my favorite plant to work at. The old College Park facility. Photo by Mike Hartley

So my mindset at home is like it is at work now. Got to keep the presses running every day, without fail. And I better get busy building that infrastructure needed to carry it out. Might be time to replace this aging laptop or make it my mobile device and get a desktop that will help the eyez look at a larger screen. I also have an old digital camera that needs to be replaced as my backup to the Nikon.

And then there is that excitement and drive and fun and satisfaction of doing it every day without the challenge becoming a burden or task. A fine line to walk indeed. And I know because working for a daily newspaper is a challenge over a long period of time. I love the work but it can burn you up if you’re not careful.

Roll (butt) ends from the press. Also doubles as crab placemats. Photo by Mike Hartley

But I don’t look at writing or photography as work. So I’m going to build my skills in writing and images so I can say more with less. I’m going to show myself an old dog can be taught new tricks. I hope to make new friends along the way and include old ones if they like.

I want to show the beauty I see in the beautiful state I live in and the people that do wonderous things. I want to hit on topics and thoughts that either advance something or just help myself understand it. Maybe it will help me give back to the community in some way. Who knows, its full of possibilities if I can follow through.

So the work begins as I end this post on what my February schedule should include. I’ll catch you all later with the writing prompt of the day post.

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Built a fort

Built a fort with my grandchild today. We learned about making foundations with blocks. And of course play and laughter. So much play that it’s going to be early to bed to recover. The unbridled joy of a child breaths life into me, but only for so long when the body realizes its age.

Dad showed me the proper grip on a football a month before he passed. Photo by Shirley Hartley

An interesting writing prompt today. If you could, what year would you time travel to and why? I would go to 1966 the year the picture above was shot. I would ask my father about all his life and experiences and then I would ask a thousand and one questions and seek his guidance about growing up and life.

I never got a chance to do those things. And I think about those things a lot. How would life have changed? Would I have followed his career in the Navy? Would I have had a lot more confidence? Would I have avoided a lot of mistakes?

Not that I want anything in my life to be different because I’m one of the happiest guys around with the way things are turning out. But getting here was difficult at times. It’s a void in my life that was never filled. So I would like to go back and learn about the man I missed so much and to tell him I love him.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The smell of bacon cooking on a Friday morning with a grandchild on the way to our home is a great start to the day.
  • There is cold and then there is WTF.
  • I have some great friends who remind me often to be thankful for all we have been given and I hope I do the same for them.
  • Thankfully I don’t get headaches often. But when I do it makes me appreciate the suffering that those who do suffer from them.

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Something from nothing

Another opportunity at my doorstep. What should we create today? Inspiration is low because I’m just so tired from the job that pays the bills. I also got lazy with my exercise and my body doesn’t like that. So time to turn it around. Let’s see what today’s writing prompt is.

The beauty and storminess of life. Photo by Mike Hartley.

My favorite photo that I’ve ever taken is a question I’ve never asked myself before. I have a favorite out of a particular shoot or series. Like the one, I have on the wall now of about 300 shots of Arlington Cemetery. I put them up to select a few favorites for larger prints.

I have favorites photos of my wife and children and grandchildren that are my favorites for special reasons close to my heart. I have favorite vacation photos and favorites of the hundreds of shots of friends I have on my office walls.

I have favorites of my family’s pets, favorites of many towns in Maryland, favorites of the sports I’ve taken. Of course, the nature and weather photos are always of my favorites when I think about my best work but then I think about the food and fishing shots that are so colorful and action-oriented. I never favored portraits but I think of a few I could have as favorites. Or maybe some architectural shots I love to shoot and remember.

And soon as I typed the word “remember”, that is what my favorite is. The memory “remembrance” of each photo I shoot envokes. So picking a favorite goes along with picking specific memories. And that is tough to do in life.

So my favorite photo is really the next one I take. And the one after that. Because the excitement is always looking for my next favorite. And every once in a while I pause and say, that could be the one. But then I have another idea or thought and the next image is in my mind to capture.

I will say one more thing about favorites. It’s hard to have a favorite that is just an electronic image. Make a physical print of it and watch how much more special it becomes. I did make a choice a long time ago for the banner image for the header of this site. 8 years ago today in fact. So I put the whole image as my favorite today because it still represents a favorite morning of mine.

I’m going to have to return to this topic of favorite images being I love photography so much. But I’m exhausted and can barely keep my viewfinder open so I’ll return another day and expand on it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The weather is a good daily reminder of how unpredictable life is.
  • The interesting thing about the rock group The Who is that they all like to play lead.
  • No matter how many people are around you, you’re still alone.

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The Night

In some ways having lived a nocturnal lifestyle for portions of my professional career has enlightened me to a whole other world that remains a mystery to most people. It can be unsettling at first. Darkness does that to most people.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Just like with anything, it takes time for your senses to adjust. Your sight has to change, your margin for error is way down. The sounds and smells of the night are different than the day. I’ve worked both day and night shifts in Washington DC. That is an entirely different place after sunset as most places are.

But really there is no difference between a city and the woods. All kinds of predators are out at night. But besides that negative, there is a world of wonderous activity. The world is restocked overnight. How this mystery of movement happens is a ballet in darkness. But the mystery to me is how does the human mind change when you become nocturnal.

It’s like living in a different reality sometimes. A different mindset when you see people. For instance, tomorrow night when I get together with my 2 best friends for HH they will be ready for dinner. Well, it’s breakfast time for me. But hell, I don’t care, I’ll eat Mexican or pizza or whatever the group wants to have.

I enjoy sunrises and sunsets, they just mean different things to me. Sunrise is bedtime. Yeah, sort of like Dracula. And sunset is something that I’m cooking bacon to every so often. I look across at the traffic lights in the morning and see people just starting their days and mine is coming to a close. Interesting observation. Most of them don’t have a smile on their face, I do.

I don’t know how people do it for decades, it’s a mystery to me. Sometimes it fits a lifestyle. Sometimes it fits life situations where one parent is always home for kids. It’s tough on relationships though.

One observation about the people out at night. The good ones you encounter are really really good giving and caring people. Most of us who work nights really rely on each other because there are so few for support around.

As I usually step out of my basement office each night it’s always a mystery as to what I might see. Will it be a big herd of deer, maybe a fox sitting on my hill scoping out the clearing before the woods, maybe an owl hooting, or just a cool breeze. The night is full of mysteries that I embrace.

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Speeding and Reading along

Now that I’m back to writing each day I must get back to reading more again, both blogs and books. Tough to fit everything in and that means shifting priorities. That’s fine with me, I’ve been devoting too much time to the job that pays the bills anyway.

Like this boat, just cruising along today. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s kind of funny what today’s writing prompt was being I had just picked up a book again that I started recently called “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon.

I’m about halfway through it and I’m sure I’ll pick it up again in the future for inspiration because it makes a good number of points I need to refresh myself on occasionally. I’m asking for more books for birthdays and Xmas. I’m rediscovering the joy of reading.

Not that I haven’t read in the past, it’s just what I read was either news or more technical in nature. Reading about my future endeavors is a lot of fun so far.

I have the next few books lined up behind the current one. “A Photographers Playbook” is next on the agenda and then something fun being March Madness will be approaching. “Tales from the Maryland Terrapins” and there are 2-3 more fun ones behind that one already.

Fitting all these interests into the schedule is hard, but it’s a passion that is really getting stronger each day. For I have two very good reminders of how important life is each day and to utilize every moment you’re healthy to live, enjoy and create.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes it tough to meet every day head on.
  • Like an idiot I just accepted more work at work.
  • Contractors and Politician. Which lie more?
  • I used a pictue of a boat during summer on todays post to try to help me with warm thoughts. It’s not working yet because I’m still chilled.

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Gaining superpowers

Knocking the days out, one after another. That was my goal to start the year, to post each day. Instead of making a huge goal of making my site something special, and then failing badly because the goals were too big and ill-defined. So I first have to get in the habit of making fresh content each day.

Words and Ideas are important. Photo by Mike Hartley

Mid-month and so far so good for the writing but the photography needs to be fresh each day also. And in that vein, I sought to do something new even though I’m stuck inside today and I’ll try to share that later.

But, onto today’s writing prompt:

I’m not too up on all the action heroes anymore and the new superpowers they may have. If I had a superpower I would like to be a nurse, doctor, or medical scientist and heal people. I would like to be a professor or teacher to help educate or a person who responds to disaster/crisis situations or our civil servants. All these people seem to have incredible superpowers that I admire.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My beard trimmer trembled when my Grizzly Adams looking self picked it up today.
  • Interesting contrast, MLK today. Tomorrow the voting rights bill will probably fail in the Senate.
  • It’s fun learning to have fun each day.
  • Has the world (we) missed an opportunity to minimize this Covid VIrus but not getting as many people vaccinated as possible and therefore allowing another more deadly varient to produce and kill?

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Passionate about?

Another blank slate to start the day. What a pleasure it is to have some choices. Well, a few minutes for a few choices at least before work tonight. Maybe a lot more time if I stay away from the TV, and don’t watch football games today.

Pit crew – surgery in progress. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is one I hope to have a much better answer for in the near future. Because when I look at myself now I don’t have a cause I’m really passionate about other than my family and maybe my desire to work on my future crafts. When I think of a cause I think of a charity. We make donations to groups we have belief in like the Red Cross, V Foundation, American Cancer Society, Maryland Foodbank, St Jude, Purple Heart, DAV, and some others.

I haven’t been passionate about a cause. And that troubles me a bit. I think as my free time may expand in the future I might find a cause I’m really serious about making a difference in. But in reality, doing a lot of little things for causes you believe in is kind of a passion. Because as they say every little bit makes a difference.

As I think about what I might become more passionate about I think of the environment and wildlife. I enjoy photographing both and after living through massive development in this area I’m tired of it and it’s got to stop. Also environments like our Eastern Shore and the Chesapeake Bay.

I don’t like to see people hungry or homeless and I will probably do more in that regard. I also have a very soft spot for animals so maybe I’ll do something with the Maryland SPCA. There is so much need and so few able to do. I wish I had done more to contribute throughout my life. But they say it’s never too late to catch up. Well, at least that is what I’m hoping for.

I think this needs repeating. A statement from the American Medical Association. on the Supreme Court decision on Covid Vaccinations for large companies being rejected. –

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have no idea why I got away from doing random thoughts for a few days to start the year?
  • I wonder if I didn’t watch the weather report if there would still be snow to shovel later?
  • Pain has a way of reshifting your focus.
  • The sounds of my sons and daughters voices breaths life into me.
  • I’m having serious withdraw from seeing my granddaughter. I think I’ll make her a video today.

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Enjoy the ride

There are only so many days in a lifetime. Don’t waste them away.

Last Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

Somedays you get rude reminders of how short life is and how unfair it can be.

So my life lesson is one that encourages you to live each day to the fullest. No, you don’t have to go jump out of a plane each day or ride the rapids. Making good use of every day is maybe saying “I love you” and following that up with an act of kindness. Helping enrich the lives of those around you can do wonders for your own as well.

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Before I get to the day’s writing challenge which I’m having trouble deciding what to write about I wanted to say I’m looking forward to a great day. One of my best friends helped me get life back in perspective last night and we laughed and solved the world’s problems all in one evening.

TUNE FISH ON. Photo by Mike Hartley

An interesting one today: Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

To be honest, I feel like I’ve been very lucky in life, and that challenges I might express are really minor in scope to what others have and currently face. I had two different cancers and I guess some may consider those challenges. Really you’re along for the ride. Yeah, you make a few decisions along the way, your fight is the recovery and living with it and putting that fear of more aside.

I think of the many lifelong challenges that losing my dad at a young age has had on me for decades. I’ve had a great number of professional challenges but nothing I feel like bragging about today. I could write of the many challenges faced being married over 4 decades we have overcome.

I thought about the challenge of starting a family and what a special time that was. From the moment I saw my first child laying on the my better halfs chest I suddenly realized my entire priorities had changed. All my old ways and priorities becomes secondary. If you take it seriously its an incredible responsiblity helping raise a family, provide for the family, give the family a future better than yours, show love and compasion each and every day.

I needed to grow up quick and I did. Well that is my story and I’m sticking to it. My better half might have a few arguements but overall I stepped up. Could I have been better, always and I even look at today how I can be better. That is always a never ending job from the moment they enter the world. One because your always learning, adjusting, supporting and teaching.

Its a labor of love certainly but also one of sacrifice that you will feel. But its all worth it and then some. It’s been the most rewarding and proudest thing in my life to just be a part of their upbringing and to see them become wonderful people. Time passes so fast you barely have time to appreciate it. It’s easy to lose yourself. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed during it. Take breaks, let people help.

So I would say stepping up to the challege of being a good father isn’t really something that I had to overcome but more of a goal to meet every day of my life. It’s a labor of LOVE.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We used to have a pool. Sometimes I still look out the window and see my family laying on floats or having sponge ball battles.
  • Reading is a lot of fun, I wish I had more time for it.
  • I could use a good nights rest. But the call of progress will keep me up.
  • Only dreams of my toes in the sand on a warm summer day pull me through cold weekends like this.

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An Ideal Day

What is not to like about the start of a weekend. Mine begins today.

Sunset on the bay behind Ocean City Photo by Mike Hartley

So time to ramp up production personal work and try to make up for a busy week at the job that pays the bills.

From the parking lot at Fagers Island Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is: What does your ideal day look like?

I don’t think I can fit all the things in my ideal day. So I’ll pick one of my favorites. And as always any ideal day always involves my family and friends.

Driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at sunrise on a warm summer morning with the top down on the way to the ocean. Breakfast at Barn 34 or Happy Jacks. Spend some time taking pictures. Ride bikes around town. Hit the beach, Dumsers cheeseburger, and cherry ice cream soda. To the pool, then a shower, lounge on the huge balcony in a reclining cushioned beach chair with a view of the ocean and bay, read and listen to music.

A seafood festival with the family for dinner. Laugh with the kids and grandkids. Spending time with my better half. Return to the balcony and listen to the sound of the waves hitting the beach. Hear a knock at the door and it’s my best friends and back to the balcony we go and proceed to laugh the night away till the next sunrise.

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This writing each day feels good. I hope I can keep it going well beyond this monthly challenge. Why, because I like to communicate. And even if it’s a random person who just reads one post or a family member who might keep up with my ramblings, I can be happy with that.

Are you talking to ME? Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt: What emoji(s) do you like to use?

Today’s writing prompt left me a little short for the material needed for a thoughtful post. You see despite working on computers for many years the emoji thing never caught on with me. Yeah, I send my daughter a heart once in a great while on a text but that is about it.

I actually saw a text once to a person much younger and it was all emoji’s and they replied all in emojis. I just don’t get it and probably won’t, not that it might be fun I guess but I’d rather say things with words and pictures. And no I don’t consider an emoji a picture or illustration or graphic. But that is just me. I say have fun with them if you use them.

I think the same might be true of my friends. I think the only emoji I’ve seen them send is one of a beer and a shot glass.

So I decided to spend a few minutes learning some emoji language. Off to Google, I went. Well, first I stand corrected. This looks to be a whole industry. I had no idea there were so many emojis and so many meanings for them. I was thinking about picking up a new language when I retired. Maybe Spanish. But now I’m thinking I might add emoji to the list. Then again, Nah. Text and emails using words can be misinterpreted and I’m guessing emojis can even lead to more confusion.

I think I discovered the real reason I’m not an emoji fan yet. Being older and one of failing eyesight I can’t tell if someone is sending the peace sign or flipping me the bird. So instead of enlarging the screen or getting my magnifying glass out, I’ll stick to words. But please, go about your fun.


To boldly go

If I’m a lucky man and have my health a few more years I’ll be boldly entering retirement, from the job that pays the bills. And I’m looking forward to it because I’m preparing for it. I read a good book a friend got me a while back called “The Joy of Not Working” by Ernie J. Zelinski. It was great and started me on a path of hobbies and plans and dreams of all kinds of things to do and also be aware of. A mindset change from someone else being the boss, to me being the boss.

This guy’s suit screams Craig Sager. Just look at the guy’s reaction walking towards him. It kind of looks like Gov. Hogan from behind. Photo by Mike Hartley

So what does it mean to live boldly? Ask today’s writing challenge. Wow, this could cover a lot of range. Just expressing yourself is bold nowadays and sometimes dangerous. But I’ll take that risk.

I remember back my first job as an adult at 18 which I stayed at for 21 years. I left that to join two partners to go into business for ourselves. With not enough capital, not enough experience, not enough knowledge, and certainly not enough staff. If it didn’t say newspaper office it would have been a hat store because I never wore so many different ones. I guess that was a rather bold move being I had two young children at home. (Bold in a chance sort of way)

Honestly, my first thought was the bold fight an old friend has put up over the last year fighting cancer. (Bold as in courageous)

I watch one of my best friends leap up the food chain and help build a successful company that handles huge jobs and multimillion $$ contracts and exude the management skills with people that I admire. He could have done things the old fashion way but that isn’t him. He takes the glory off the field for his team. (Bold as in masterful strokes)

When I was younger I had the inclination to drive fast at times. More stupid than bold but things like rock climbing or surfing with sharks or platform diving off a cliff. (Boldness in adventures.)

You have to be really bold to ask a question, especially in front of others. Because without knowledge you can’t live. (Bold is not being afraid as being seen as stupid)

Bold is saying things like “Will you marry me” or “I Do” or “Were going to have a baby”. Bold is saying “I accept the job” or “I quit” or, “I think I deserve a better raise.”

Bold can be just getting out of bed and taking on another day or arming yourself to go to work to defend society or a country. (Salute to the boldness of our servicemen/women and law enforcement and fire)

Living each day is bold if you choose to really live.


And we’re off

Hard to go charging into a new week when the temps outside reduce movement by 50% because you have to dress in layers looking like the Michelin Man. But off we go anyway. Into the frozen tundra.

Woodstock Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today’s writing prompt was:

The 5 things I’m grateful for today are:

  • I’m grateful my family and friends are healthy. One has the flu but that will pass.
  • I’m grateful my stomach is full and a warm roof is over my head.
  • I’m grateful to know that riches aren’t measured in monetary wealth but in time with special people surrounding you, loving and enjoying each other.
  • I’m grateful to all the professional people that I’ve enjoyed working with in the past and today. Many have mentored me and I hope I’ve given it back to others along the way.
  • I’m grateful my better half said “I Do” a long time ago.

You know, those are the ones I’m grateful for every day. But today specifically I would answer:

  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to possibly work from home for the next 2 years which I sent the forms for today.
  • I’m grateful for the Jimmy Johns #10 which was very tasty and filled me up.
  • I’m grateful I have a space heater in my office on a night when the temps might dip to single digits.
  • I’m grateful yesterdays back pain subsided earlier today.
  • I’m grateful to have a few free moments to do a post and tinker making some large prints for framing.

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Oh, the weekends go by so quickly. Can’t wait to get to the days of the permanent weekend.

She just explained life to him. Photo by Mike Hartley

Interesting writing prompt today: What do people incorrectly assume about you?

I thought about what people might wrongly assume I would guess the following.

Maybe that I’m more technically inclined than creatively.

That not returning to the drinking days of my youth is easy just because it’s been so long.

That I’m not very good at relaxing. I just don’t do it that often.

That I’m comfortable being outgoing.

Some might not think I’m very smart. Only completed high school and wasn’t that good then. But I have a lot of common sense and good intuition. And when I apply myself I do fairly well.

In today’s political world there are so many wrong assumptions from both sides that it’s almost like we can’t talk to one another because these false assumptions make each side too angry to sit down and listen. Very sad.

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I’ve inadvertently found the love of writing.

The Writer Framed. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is What do you like most about your writing.

Sometimes you just stumble into something or scratch an old itch that really turns into something. I started blogging several years ago just to show my photos and inadvertently started writing. Sometimes a photo would spur a few thoughts and I just started to do more and more on each post. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m no writer because the reading I do shows me I’m just a beginner. And that is fine with me even if I finish as one.

I’ve had a thought to start a book for my children about a dozen years ago, and I have a good base of material that I should revisit and complete. I’ve thought about some photography books and I’m going to try my first one next month. I have the draft of a start of a book about being in the nocturnal working world. But I really like blogging because it keeps me in regular practice and seems to bring satisfaction each day I accomplish it.

What I like most about my writing is that as time goes on, I’m inspired to do more of it and get better at it (even though I’m sure some of you might say this is a slow process). I don’t look at it as work or even a deadline or set goals on how much I write each day. I just want to do it, just like I discovered long ago, I just like to take photos.

My hope is that maybe someone will enjoy a piece or a thought that makes them think or just smile at some levity. Or maybe my children or better half will read it and learn something about their dad/husband.

I love that there are so many styles and flavors of writing to choose from. I did some poetry a long time ago and enjoyed it immensely. Again it was beginner stuff mostly humorous, but it proved it hit right because people found it funny.

I like that I find myself thinking and growing more. I have no idea where I’m going with my writing in the future. All I can say is I’ll keep doing it and keep enjoying it, because as they say it’s the journey, not the destination.

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A Friday laugh

When I looked at my to-do list I laughed a bit this morning. Add the snow shoveling to the list and it’s overflowing. But of course, I want to keep up with this blogging challenge so I go check out the writing prompt and find it’s going to be a fun one. (What makes you laugh?)

I hope when people think of me now and when I’m gone they think of laughter. I love to laugh, I love to make others laugh.

Simple things like this couple having a different idea of directions. Photo by Mike Hartley

Laughter to me is the medicine of life. It sustains me in difficult times and lifts me to great heights when things are going well. It’s one cornerstone to almost all my relationships. I guess I like being around people who know how to laugh.

I remember getting the album “Class Clown” in 1972 when I was 15 of George Carlin. I can remember my mother’s reaction still when she heard “Seven words you can never say on television.” She was in shock but I saw her snickers in between.

So what makes me laugh? Videos of my 2-year-old granddaughter that my daughter sends me. I like the comic pages. A comedy club or just one of my friends. The irony in many work and political situations. Pets, old people, and young children. Being tickled. YouTube videos. Hell, I’ll laugh at just about anything, Highbrow to toilet humor. I love it all.

I guess I just got lucky to grow up in the time of the comedy masters. The likes of Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Lenny Bruce, Red Fox

Physical comedy is great -I loved Saturday night live since its start and in those early days with Chevy Chase and John Belushi it was a riot. Then Steve Martin and Chris Farley and so many more. And I still love it today.

Thinking comedy – Steven Wright, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Burr

Comedy nuts – Rodney Dangerfield, Sam Kinison, Bernie Mac, Johnathan Winters and Don Rickles.

And of course, I have to give the ladies their due – From groundbreakers like Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller. Too Amy, Tina, Wanda, Rossane.

I love Far Side and Dilbert’s daily calendars. I love live skit comedy. I love all late-night show comedians.

Looking for the laughter in each day really makes living a lot of fun, besides all the serious stuff that takes place.

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The shovel

Well, it was bound to happen, enough snow to shovel. The shoulder is feeling pretty good and this snow wasn’t deep enough that I couldn’t snowplow (just push the shovel along for distance) most of it. There might be 4-5 inches of fresh powder out there today. And with temps staying below freezing it wasn’t going anywhere unless I did it.

The snow-covered roof of the barn on Bethany Lane. Photo by Mike Hartley

That cold wind though was tough to avoid. I hope there are some young kids around the neighborhood when I get older. I’m closer to that day that I’ll need help or equipment to accomplish it instead of a shovel. And that will be a depressing day. I actually enjoy that exercise.

I was thinking of going to Arlington Cemetery Sunday morning but now they are calling for freezing rain. Guess I’ll have to do snow pictures another day. Might have to see what tomorrow looks like. I discovered snow shots were one season I was lacking in pictures from there.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more hope I have the happier I am. Because with hope there is optimism.
  • Still see a lot of cars/suv’s that people still don’t clean off before going out. Pretty much status quo, people doing what they want to or don’t.
  • Gamble – do I wait in the pharmcey line where there are 8 cars or go into the store and see what the line is there. I went in, one person at the counter finishing up. Step right up, out in 3 minutes. I’ll have to keep that in mind, people don’t like getting out of their cars in the cold.
  • Ledo pizza is still one of my favorites.

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The timing of today’s writing prompt (Who is someone that inspires you and why) left me with two minds. I was thinking about family and friends that had inspired me. I thought of a few sports stars I’ve followed and then maybe a mentor or two I’ve had on the job. I thought about my parents. But then I got a text about an old work friend who was being given last rights and being moved to hospice. Ironically I had just written him a few hours earlier in the day. This news inspired me to select him because he has inspired me these last months.

Shrine of St Anthony off Homewood Road. I use this photo because he used to go to services here. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I recognize the courage and faith an old friend displayed fighting brutal cancer these past several months. And I don’t use those two words (faith and courage) lightly. I never heard his faith waver. I never heard a complaint about the horrible things that come along with chemo and advanced cancers. As a good friend said to a few of us today “dying is hard work and he has faced things worse than death. I wish his spirit peace and freedom from pain.”

We worked together over 20 years ago but when I heard of his diagnosis I felt the need to reconnect. I try to reach out to others who have to fight cancer and help support and encourage where I can.

One thing he noted right away which is kind of unique but not uncommon in relationships with people who worked at PPC is that despite decades apart, we all pick up like we were together yesterday. So I tried to write often and now I wish I had written more because he said he enjoyed the notes.

Ahh, the old magic of the local newspaper days. I think the ease of these long-term friendships or connections to each other that are rekindled from time to time like close friends who were separated but never stopped loving each other. I think that was for a few reasons like the size of the company 300-400 people, the unusual amount of years we all worked together, and the passion for the work we did. But the final and special factor is that there just seemed to be a lot of special, caring, fun, and loving people there. And he was certainly one of them.

He’s inspiring me to live each day to the fullest. He’s made me think about doing things both professionally and personally before time runs out. He was a man that exuded life and that is a very good trait to try to emulate to fill voices like his that are taken too soon. A gregarious personality with a baritone laugh. A man of many talents and skills. A man that has me evaluating my own faith.

I used the picture above because he told me he went there to “focus on my soul and my faith.” I think I’ll stop by there on my next trip to Columbia and wish his soul well, thank him for his friendship, and that he be granted peace from this cruel situation.

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Good day all, another wonderful day to be alive. Therefore our wishing may go on.

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

Today’s writing prompt is:

This is a great question and one to consider more than the surface of it. If you wish you knew how to do it, then what is preventing it?

Today, I was practicing one of my loves and that is listening to music. Knowing how to be a musician, is something I wish I knew how to do.

  • I’d like to play bass like John Entwistle.
  • I’d like to write songs like Ronnie Van Zant
  • I’d like to play the drums with the maniacal energy of Keith Moon but the technical expertise of Neil Peart.
  • I’d like to be able to do the guttural yell Roger Daltrey does on the song Won’t get fooled again. And at the same time be able to harmonize like CSN.
  • I’d like to play piano like Billy Powell
  • I’d like to play guitar with the grace of Carlos Santana and the occasional windmill of Pete Townsend.
  • You know, maybe if I live a long life I’ll give it a shot.

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The writing challenge of the day is back again.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And today’s prompt was What was your favorite toy as a child.

The first thing that popped into my mind was my basketball. I remember feeling secure with the ball in my hand. It was my first therapist. If there was bad weather or snow on the ground I’d use the tiled basement floor as my court. And when it was nice I was outside with it.

It helped me make friends, it gave me confidence and something to look forward to. Thankfully there were a great number of friends who also like to play. And play we did, pretty much year-round.

Actually, I sat for a while thinking about this. I remember very little about my early childhood and play and toys. I know why I blocked some of it out, but it’s been so long I have been unable to recall the good times. I know there were some. But some things made toys not that important.

The most important thing to me as a youngin was the kitten my dad brought home. So a kitty and a basketball were the most important toys to me as a child. They were both good listeners and help me think things out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Time to hunker down at home for a while. Why chance catching something if I don’t have to. Plus we need to give our healthcare workers a break so there are some of them left after the pandemic to treat us for all the other stuff that was happening before this.
  • I’m learning to laugh more when others are petty. A trait I didn’t always posess.
  • I keep in touch with some people that are very ill. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words.


Comfort Zone

So today’s writing prompt is The last time I left my comfort zone.

I left my comfort zone yesterday when I crawled out of bed. Of course, that is creature comfort and I don’t believe that was the intent of the question.

Oh, I know, I’m well out of my comfort zone because it’s snowing this morning to remind me of my least and most uncomfortable season, Winter is here. Too lame.

I kind of leave my comfort zone each day when I post my blog. Because the quote “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt” keeps popping in my head right before I hit the publish button. Yet I don’t think this meets the criteria of the question.

I left my comfort zone last Friday when I left my home. And I mean comfort in that I know the virus isn’t here at my home. But again, that isn’t the meaning of the question.

Some never have a comfort zone. Photo by Mike Hartley

Let’s see, something big, maybe changing jobs would qualify as leaving the comfort zone? Oops. Only had 3 jobs since I was 18. Been at the last one for almost 25 years. I have moved to different positions throughout my career but the last one was 7-8 years ago. So let me see if I can find something more recent.

Ah, I got it, we had our kitchen remodeled and it’s gone over schedule, and while about 95% complete it’s still not done and we certainly left our comfort zone for about 2 months not having one. Nah, that still doesn’t sound good enough.

OK, I think I got it. I had two different cancers in my 50s. So I’ve been being monitored for about a dozen years now. Thankfully after my last cancer surgery and radiation, I migrated all the way to annual testing. Once a year is great. It’s so infrequent you don’t spend time in thought about it. And after you get a couple of years under your belt your think you might be home-free. But 2021 brought a change that took me out of my comfort zone. A number went up and now I’m back to every 6 months for the next 2 years. Yes, it’s better than quarterly but it’s the last thing I wanted to hear at this time.

In some ways the lack of a comfort zone I have about cancer almost everyone knows about now, with this virus. Am I going to catch it, will I get deathly ill and die in a hospital, or be burdened with life-altering long-term effects from it. I know everyone doesn’t look at the virus, like that, but maybe if more did they would get the vaccines.

I don’t go worrying about cancer every day, or every week or every month. No, I worry about it when I get a new ache or an old ache gets more severe. I worry about it when I hear a friend with pancreatic cancer is struggling. I worry about it when the office calls and says it’s test time and then I worry till I talk to the doctor. I worry that when I look into the eyes of my grandchildren that I’m there for them as they grow up. I worry that something might affect me growing old with my better half. I worry about it when one of my best friends goes under the knife for it. I worry about it when I see someone in a cancer chatroom at the job who is struggling.

I worry about a fight I might not win. So I left my permanent comfort zone over a decade ago when I realized I wasn’t invincible. I was just starting to feel good again last year for the first time in a long time when in September 2021 the increased testing came along and removed my comfort zone again.

But I’ve gained knowledge and inspiration from each time this happens. It’s a good reminder to make the best use of each day. Tell people you love them. Show them by your actions. Talk to people like there is a chance you might not get to again and how you would want to be remembered by them. Get to the things you love in life. Get to the people you love in life. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Remember there are a lot of people who consider a comfort zone a warm place to sleep and a meal. So regardless of health issues that are out of my control, I need to get busy again working and being with the loves of my life so my comfort zone returns.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Snow is beautiful when you don’t have to shovel it.
  • There is a lot of action involved in setting up a good still life photo.
  • I hear its cold outside, more incentive to not leave the keyboard.
  • It’s tough returning to a night shift after a week of living and sleeping like a normal human being.
  • I might add chef to the list of things I’d like to become in retirement.


Road Trip

Good first Sunday of 2022. It signals a return to the job that pays the bills after a week of vacation. A tough night ahead. But until then, onward with my goals and changes in this new year.

Maryland has some great roads. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Today’s writing prompt: What is a road trip you would love to take.

The words “Road Trip” always remind me of the movie Animal House which came out in my youth. So every adventure we used to go, short or long, someone would always call out “Road Trip” and a roar would go up.

Given my love of driving and being closer to retirement than ever, my mind has been wandering towards the thought of a road trip or several in the U.S.

The first thing about a trip I would “LOVE” to take means that there is no job to schedule vacation from and no job to return to after the trip. I’ve always wanted to savor a trip. Work prevents that. In some years work could ruin my entire good vacation vibe in one day.

And when I take a trip with my better half I want it to be a memorable experience before we even leave and for many years afterward. There are a lot of areas I would love to visit in this great country. My wife would love a road trip up the west coast from San Diego up to San Francisco and into the Napa region.

Of course, I’ve always had a desire to see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. Maybe rent an RV and just drive and see for a month. I’ve also been thinking of two east coast trips also. I thought about going through southern Maryland and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel to Virginia Beach. Then down to what I think is called the outer banks, Nags Head, Hatteras, and then hug the coast down to Charleston and Savanah which are two towns we would spend some time in. Maybe a stop at NASA in Florida and then down to the Keys. Of course, I’d have to stop and say hello to one of my best friends in FLA.

The other east coast trip involves going north to see New York City, Boston, and then along the coast of Maine. Returning through Vermont and down through the central part of New York and Pennsylvania to back home in Maryland.

Regardless I hope to fill this year with many road trips (shorter in nature) to many places we have yet to explore or want to explore again. I don’t know what of the big trips I can even afford but if I can, we will go and have the trip or trips of our lives.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It feels good to get back to my goal of blogging daily.
  • One of the best things about being an ametaur photographer is you are leaving your friends and family many memories that will bring many smiles and rememberances well after I’m gone.
  • I see winter is coming to our area this week. Time to find the extension cord so I can strap that space heater to my behind.
  • I’m reading again and it feels good. Feels even better that it’s books my children got me.
  • The first couple days on the treadmill are also working out well. But that dreaded incline button is waiting for me.


To get me going again

Good morning all, and a Happy New Year.

Time to get paddling. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s always good to have a commitment to something. I started blogging in 2014 and my goal was to do daily posts. Well, I’ve never accomplished that goal but it’s never too late to start trying again. So I saw this WordPress challenge for blogging every day in the month of January. So here we go.

And today’s writing prompt was:

Wow, this prompt makes you think and try to remember way back. One because my teenage self was about 50 years ago. In some ways, those days are very clear and in other ways, they are a total blur. Those were very difficult but also some fun times.

My father died when I was 9. So I started growing up before the time I was a teen, I think I might have been rebelling against it a bit. At 10 yrs old I biked a fairly large paper route for a couple of years, would dog sit, landscape work, odd construction help. When I turned 14, I helped my Mom buy a car. She let me drive it to a night job working a factory kitchen after school. I didn’t have a license till I was 16. I worked most of my entire teens and just before I was 19 I dropped my first year of college (lack of funds) and started my lifelong career in Newspapers.

I worked hard and played harder as a teen. And so did most of my friends. Many mistakes were made but also lots of great memories.

  • I would say if you’re going to work hard to impress someone make sure it’s the right people with the right things.
  • I wold say put that cigarette down and never pick up another one.
  • I would say you are not invincible.
  • I would say to find another way to deal with pain and insecurity than drinking and drugs.
  • I would say don’t put off or give up on your artistic interest.
  • I would say have a lot more confidence in yourself.
  • I would have said don’t be afraid or think it was uncool to succeed.
  • I would say don’t drink and drive you FOOL. No, I never hurt anyone or myself but I drove far too many times when I shouldn’t have.
  • I would say listen more and talk less.
  • I would probably suggest a helmet and roll cage when drag racing and the high-speed runs we made.
  • I would have told me that learning is fun and get to it.
  • I would say aspire to things you think might not be possible, more in life.
  • Life is fun, enjoy it and take better care of yourself because you will live longer than you and others would think.

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Ah, the last day of the year and I sit and think, what to blog about today? Do I go over what I’m thankful for, which is a very long list? Do I go over my personal, home, hobby, and travel goals for 2022 and spoil a few new ideas that I want to spring on my better half later today?

Nope, I think I’ll focus on today. Something I should do more every day. Because that is all I got to work with and make the best of. And if I keep making the best of it maybe I’ll make it better for my children and their children. Wow, if I could pull something like that off wouldn’t it be an accomplishment.

Look it’s Mommy. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s tough and getting tougher but we have to be strong, keep the love flowing because it’s all about the children. Yes, our grown children who are having or have children that make you grandparents or if your very lucky to live long enough, great grandparents. They are the future and wouldn’t it be beautiful to pass along a healthy and peaceful world. We have to show we can still make a difference working together.

I need to work on leaving them the earth to flourish in, not some wasteland. I’m going to focus on what I can do as an individual/family this year to help that effort. I’m thinking about these things and others because my family is expanding. I’ve looked into the eyes of my children and their children and while I’m sharing love and laughter with them, at the same time worry about what type of world I might be leaving them. Both in environment and culture.

New Years’ is becoming one of my favorite holidays. People are in good spirits. 2 days of nothing but sports food, celebration. No gifts to worry about. Being with family is optional. Being alone with your significant other like our plans are tonight at home is somewhat more special than other nights of the year.

Fireworks over the Bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

I happen to be off this New Years’ holiday, my last one for a few years, and I’m soaking it in. I’ve had time to open a book and read more than a chapter. I’ll have time to eat a relaxed dinner. I’ve spoken to friends without them or me feeling pressed for time. I’ll talk to my children later and hear the excitement in their voices. I’ll give and get a very meaningful embrace from my other half.

She will make a few special treats to snack on and we might go out for some carry-out. Football is on from morning till late evening a few hours before the countdown begins. Not that I want to sit in front of the TV for any amount of time but it’s a good diversion every few minutes till the good games come on later.

Tomorrow while the rest of the world is recovering from a hangover I’ll be trying to make a high-performance holeshot of production to start 22 right.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if the future is as foggy as it is outside here in Maryland this morning where visibility was about 0?
  • Worthwhile things take time.
  • I’m discovering the joy of books again. Well maybe the first time.
  • I’m going to try to colaborate more this coming year.
  • Look for what you can do instead of what you can’t now.
  • I hope everyone can find something to feel good about from 2021. For those who lost loved ones and or friends I know this is very difficult and I wish you peace.

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Not adding to the shortage

I’m not traveling so I don’t need a covid test. I’m not sick now so I don’t need one. They are in such short supply in areas why would I take one from someone who needs it. I’m not going to dine out anymore till this surge is well over. I won’t be going to a New Years’ party. I’m one of the lucky ones and I’ll continue to work from home. We will shop at odd hours to minimize exposure.

Here’s looking at you, Babe. Photo by Mike Hartley

But why do I need to go out and get these rapid tests? If I do get one in January through the mail I’ll save it for my unvaccinated infant grandchildren. If I feel like I have a mild cold or easy flu I’m staying my ass inside unless I feel really ill and then I’ll go to the hospital. I’ve had my boosters and flu vaccines. Will the government have my statistics of which thing I actually had, no! Will I infect others or possibly get infected by something else trying to find out what I have, no? I choose not to take that chance at this time. Maybe in a month or two or three down the road.

Do I want to catch pneumonia standing in line for 8 hours in the middle of winter waiting for a test? Hell, standing in line for 8 hours on cold concrete could punish my back so much I would regret doing it for a week. And just being out and about is getting more dangerous. Driving, flying, public transportation are all YouTube specials daily now. You can be standing in line at a store and a melee can break out.

So I’ll continue to support my family and friends and try to keep the stresses of each day in perspective and maybe help someone laugh about a tough situation. Or just listen to them vent about something that is complex and difficult or dangerous. I’ll continue to complement those servicing us all and thank those who provide the essential services. Whatever I can do to help those important to me and anyone else I cross paths with to survive the next day.

Onto greater things this morning. Learning and learning and some more learning. And reading and reading and more reading. And experimenting and tinkering and testings new settings. All the tripods are set with cameras and video ready to roll. Makeshift studio at the ready. Pay no attention to that banging in my office honey.

Together again, blow in the New Year safely tomorrow night. Photo by Mike Hartley

Plans for tomorrow night with close friends for dinner and celebration were scrapped so my better half and I will ring in the New Year at home together which I’m looking forward to.

Random Thoughts of the Day / Morning edition

  • I want to get all my goals on paper before the end of the year so I can focus all my time in 22 accomplishing them.
  • My family is growing again and my career as grandparent expands. As my tee shirts say “Life is Good”
  • This coming weekend I’m going to spend a lot of time watching basketball and football, before they are all possibley rescheduled or postponed or cancelled.
  • Even thought this virus seems to affect older people more physically, I think mentally it’s tougher on younger people.

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Damp and cloudy

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

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

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

Photos by Mike Hartley

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Tude shift

I had an attitude shift for the better yesterday. One that was needed to free the creative thoughts and ideas. Mood sets such an important tone for everything. I guess some artists use the struggle for inspiration. Usually, it takes away my inspiration. And now that I have it back I’m calling deep within myself to think outside the box.

And it’s a good thing because a few days of vacation at home relaxing and organizing and completing some tasks before the year-end feels good. A huge year ahead and lots of uncertainties to ride shotgun the whole year with us.

They will not deter me, it’s going to be a great year, maybe the best in a long time. Having two functioning arms after years of pain is going to be sweet. I hope to get on the basketball court again and maybe play a round of golf once again with one of my best friends. I was just starting to learn the game 4 years ago when I had my first rotator cuff tear.

Street lights illuminate grass at night. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s going to be a special year with family and friends also. One that I’m going to try to make special with a lot of effort and focus on them. I’ve already got a jump on it by writing more this month to my children and friends. And I’m going to be there every time they need me.

I hope to enlist some of the expertise of some friends as I get started on some creative endeavors. I’m going to wear out this nice Canon printer I have.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Looks like we could be zooming out of the office again.
  • The only good thing I can think about winter is that your ice cream doesn’t melt on the way home from the grocery store.
  • Did you ever realize how easy it is to fill up vacation hours with other work and tasks?
  • Sometimes I think for asking for a coming year of health is selfish but I’m going to do it anyway.
  • Attention – Friday 12/31 – amatuer night – avoid the roads.

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My friends and I have been reflecting back on this past year and some, including myself, have a long list of goals for next year. The list of reflections touches on work, vacations, new homes and remodeling, retirement planning, health both in a pandemic, and the regular trials we face with our various afflictions, exercise and recreation activities, and of course family and children.

Reflection is wise. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m starting a few transition years and some changes in focus are being made. The work I aspire to do will take a primary position in my professional life. I also hope to make great strides in my personal life this year with family and friends with increased interaction, events, and activities. It’s going to be a tough year to pull both off but I’m very hopeful and optimistic.

A focus on health and losing that 10-15lbs I don’t need. But at the same time, I have a much-increased interest in cooking. Well, that means I’m going to have to exercise to balance those two out. Another great duel on the agenda. Did I really say exercise?

I also have lofty goals here and I’m starting out with the WP Bloganuary challenge in January that gives daily writing challenges but really focuses on just writing each day that month. My hope is to use that as a tool to get a little more discipline in my schedule to accomplish daily posting. And therefore get more serious about my blogging future.

The photo and video side of my plans are long and still in progress but I hope to show you throughout the year what they are. And of course, I’m going to really begin to learn the art of woodworking and keeping all my digits intact.

But what’s the rush, we still have 6 days left this year and I intend on making good use of them. And that means I’m going to be thrashing away at the keyboard and shooting fresh material. A lot can be done and accomplished in short amounts of time. You hear about classic songs being written in a matter of minutes or a few hours. Well, maybe one of those images or stories or poems is ahead of me.

Playing with a few logos, what for I don’t know but might be good to have to start branding a bit more.

attempt 1
attempt 2

Well, I do have a lot more important things to do today besides playing with Canva and logo designs.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Because we didn’t eat it all there are probably a few turkey sandwiches in my near future. But also some tasty morcels left for consumption.
  • It feels really good to have your grown children include you in their regular life often.
  • I’m happy to take an image of a family member or friend that they deeply cherished and never get an iconic image that many would recognize. But it would be nice to accomplish both.
  • Finally, a year that buying scratchoffs as stocking stuffers paid off.

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To all a good night

Merry Christmas everyone. A wonderful night that had the traditional gift wrapping starting at 3 am. Then some prayers for those fighting illness and loss of spirit. Remembering those who have passed before me and asking for another year of health for loved ones and friends.

At the same time looking forward to the look in my children’s and grandchild’s eyes when we gather later today. And I’ll give thanks for the love we have for one another and I’ll silently say to myself that I’m the luckiest man on earth sometime during the day and probably a few times.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I believe I’ll go shoot some new Christmas displays this coming week. You can never have enough stock photos and I need to get some experience in low light situations because I’d like to do a lot more night photography.

Oh crap, I better charge up some batteries on the cameras for the day’s family shots.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s an especially nice morning to be alive.
  • The antisipation of being able to surprise someone is a lot of fun.
  • Time and effort are very good gifts.
  • My Mom used to be an artist at wrapping gifts.
  • Wishing for a day of peace and love for each other.

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When these waves of infections come along it’s much easier in my situation to stay fairly healthy. I work from home and that goes a long way in reducing risk. I curtail my outside exposure as needed but still try to get outside and stay a bit active. I’ll wear a mask indoors and shop or eat at times when others aren’t.

I think I also am able to adapt easier than some. For instance, I’m taking an interest in cooking more and different things at home. Not that I don’t like to eat out, I will resume that full-time again when safer again. Writing, photography, and woodworking aren’t things that are very impacted by reduced contacts. At least the kind that I do.

Welcome to Winter, my least favorite season. Photo by Mike Hartley

I can shop at unconventional hours if needed. ie: CVS at 4 am this morning. I don’t mind the thought of going back to curbside pickup.

But what freaks me out is how we are ripping the fabric of our medical system apart. We are not equipped to service all the possible people who could get sick. Look at the number of people freaking out because they can’t get a Covid test. The lines for those tests. Do you want to stand in a line outside a hospital for a bed to open up?

And what about the people trying to get treatments for heart or cancer and other medical issues? Their difficulty in getting in and out for treatments and risk has gone through the roof. How many are putting off regular visits?

Even if we work together we still might have trouble beating this. Working apart just makes its job easier to make us sick or kill some of us.

Well, enough doom and gloom. Christmas day is fast approaching. Good feelings should be coursing through our veins, in our hearts and good deeds should be flowing from our hands and mouths. Guess I should get busy. I think I can afford a few more donations. I haven’t been out to see a Salvation Army kettle but I’ll find one and stuff some bills in.

I’ll have to do a better job at keeping the giving spirit alive each month of the year this coming year. I want to spread it around to different organizations and people.

And I’m also including a lot more support time for others in my giving efforts.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Isn’t it interesting that the number of solutions to the problems we face is the exact same number as the people that partisipated in the discussion of them.
  • I was always a good tipper before the Virus. Now I’m a very good tipper.
  • I was talking to a gentleman while gettting some carry-out pizza last night. I noted it was strange not to see anyone here and he said the switch flipped and its going back to carry-out. And he was right because the 5 minutes I waited (I was early) 3-4 others came in for carry-out also.
  • What a year to have the flu vaccine miss the mark.
  • I know the NFL has a penalty for too many men on the field. I wonder if they have one for too few men on the field?

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Usually, I’m going to bed on Monday morning around 6 or 7 am. But I had the night off and I was up early at 3:30 am and decided to stay up and get an early start on the day. What’s strange is that instead of gasping for a second wind to complete the worknight, I’m fresh and ready to go.

So off to CVS I went to pick up meds for a sick family member who wants to remain nameless (alias my better half). That cold air will really get your attention and wake you up.

Jellyfish hotel Photo by Mike Hartley

The Tree – With our home renovations project running way behind schedule, we hadn’t had room to bring in a live tree to our normal spot, so instead of going at the beginning of December to get one, we waited till the 19th. Complicating matters, our normal tree purchasing spot hadn’t opened this year for some reason.

Well, we got a tree that isn’t the normal family live tree. A normal family tree I have trouble carrying myself and getting in the house and into the stand. It never fits in the SUV so the bungee cords come along. This year, it fits inside the SUV, carrying it inside the home and setup was a breeze. I wonder if the kids will notice because they usually walk in the family room and comment on the “Dad Tree”. I think I’ll make a sign over it saying “Due to Construction delays we have a Dads Charlie Brown Tree Year.”

I put the lights on it and it still looks sad, I’ll try decorations next.

It’s strange not to have parents at this time of year. When you go from years of caregiving to gone, it’s a void indeed. Not to mention the special memories that come rushing back at the holidays. Maybe special dishes or meals, maybe the unique gifts, maybe the long embrace and kiss, maybe their smile or laughter at games the family would play together, maybe their decorations or music. Whatever or all of these and more are things are now just memories in our mind that cause us to pause.

I can still see them pulling in the driveway, and walking in our door. Sometimes when we’re sitting around I’ll think that is where Mom used to sit and I’ll remember handing her a gift. For some reason, these and many more memories have come back the last several nights. I think when I opened an ornament box and saw some old ones that reminded me of the home tree it started a flood of thoughts.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is more fluid when it rains.
  • Well, I’ve settled in with a new barber again. Took a few years after the guy who cut my hair about 3 decades moved.
  • First couple nights I’ve felt I had to wear my winter coat out.
  • 15 more hours of work and then the chains come off.

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On holidays, I think it’s possible to both love and hate them at the same time. There are times when I’m very happy and times when I’m very depressed. Sometimes within the same day. I think when I’m retired in a few years I’ll enjoy them a lot more because I won’t have to work on them again.

Not in a Ho Ho spirit yet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Having to work is at least half my issue with holidays, I don’t get many real holidays. Yeah I know, I’m far from alone. But over the years I can see there is no appreciation for it. No thank you’s, no extra pay at times, no recognition. In my last two years before retirement, our team of 2 is scheduled to work 13 of 16. Somehow being this close to retirement I’m wondering if I want to do that. Well, that was enough wondering, I don’t want to.

It’s also a time of high stress on so many levels it’s too broad to capture here. But being older now my stresses are less than they were in years past but the sadness of missing loved ones who have passed is getting more difficult.

At the same time, I feel there has never been more to be thankful for. So that is the ball I have to keep my eye on.

I do have a goal for the coming year already related to the Xmas holiday. I want to start making gifts. I like the idea of giving something personal. I got to get a list together and some ideas for what I would do for each. This will get me on my woodworking-type projects a bit more this coming year.

It’s funny, I got so excited about it, took a break from writing, and came up with a few great ideas already that I can’t wait to get started on, there are a lot of people that I need to do something personal for. So I should get busy and get on some kind of schedule each week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish I had better luck with contrators. I try to be nice but it seems to work against me. Seems that they want to poke the bear.
  • This virus must be driving the guys who set the betting line crazy. You don’t know if the game is going to be played or who’s going to be playing in it till gametime.
  • Speaking of games. I heard a stat I think on ESPN that there are 44 College Football Bowl games. So I had to consult Google for the answer and double check my source. (Note I would have checked with my better half who knows everything – but Sports) and they confirm its 44. Sounds like lots of partisipation trophys to me.
  • I’m on cloud 9 today.

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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home – A rock’n tune by Motley Crue but also the feeling I have about mine. I love my home. It’s not perfect but it’s ours. We’ve raised a family here. Thrown some good parties and made many improvements over the almost 4 decades and most of all shared a lot of love and laughs. Yeah, some raised voices here and there but these walls would certainly say thanks for being good and fun caretakers.

Even though we own the home and have lived here a long time and plan on staying here a long time it’s still going to be someone else’s someday. We are just the residents of this timeframe. Even if it were to stay in the family. And who’s home stays in the family anymore?

Take me home. Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t imagine losing my home. I look at the people in those tornados and you can see the pain on them losing their homes and possessions. Of course, the most important thing in life is being alive and in good health. Homes can be rebuilt but possessions and keepsakes and photos can’t be. I imagine the loss of those items causes a person to lose a part of themselves.

Could it be? A lot of the blinders being put on are about to be removed because it looks like things are starting to shut down again. Sport, with all the high profile players and teams being placed in protocols, is a prominent headline but it goes down to Colleges and primary schools starting to cut back activities.

Some companies have pushed back return to work dates back or are getting more vigilant in checks or vaccinations. Things are going south again and we need to be strong and weather another storm. Look, if my better half hasn’t killed me yet for being home the last 2 years then the rest of you should be safe.

Naw, really just encouraging everyone to try to stay as healthy as possible. It’s all so confusing at times. You know I would have a hard time trying to figure out what to do if I wasn’t feeling right besides staying in and away from others. Do I really want to go to a testing site with probably a ton of really sick people to find out if I have the regular flu or which version of the Covid I may have? Or do I just stay home, hope it passes and the flu and covid vaccines and boosters I’ve got keep it at bay where no hospitals are involved.

So find some outlets again to keep you, your family, and friends sane for the coming months because we are in for another test. No pun intended.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Does it seem like there are more people putting up holiday lights this year?
  • Putting the top down on the car on December 16th and going for an afternoon spin is what I call a bonus day.
  • The indifference in the face of death, goes to prove some people missed the line for common sense.
  • I remember the days I rode a motorcycle and today was one of those days you either got on the bike regardless of what else was happening, or you would curse yourself for a week for missing a nice ride.
  • The older I get the more and less I understand at the same time.

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No time

I’m turning the meaning of no time around from now on. I complained about having no time. But now I’m looking at every moment as no time to waste. And that means looking at my priorities and making decisions on how to best use time and get moving. Actually, reverse that last one, I’m good at multitasking so I can be moving and making decisions at the same time.

Adding more Sand. Photo by Mike Hartley

Watching a baby’s first birthday party this past weekend was a delight. It was my niece’s first child and their family’s first grandchild. And the cycle of life continues as a new generation is populating the family. I hope I’m around to watch it grow and flourish because I saw the joy it gave our parents.

Joy is something that I wished more people focused on instead of anger.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Much respect to Bob Dole. The WWII Memorial is one of the most beautiful in DC.
  • Those images of destruction from the tornados moved me to the Red Cross site to donate.
  • Some people pretend to care but really don’t. There are lots of those people actually.
  • Work hard at your job but if your working for someone else remember there is a good chance your best interest may not be in their heart.



I miss the raw emotion and energy of the old Rock and Roll at live shows. Old R&R where people at concerts weren’t holding up phones, their hands and fist were in the air, bodies jumping and twisting as one in a herd of tens of thousands all in sync like a flock of birds. Holding a phone up would have been impossible and it still makes me ask why in some ways because I grew up in the days of rotary dial phones. And being at a concert seems like a personal experience that I wouldn’t enjoy if I was trying to record it at the same time.

I wonder if the energy I used to have at a concert in my teens, 20s, or 30s is still there? I believe it is and only the hesitation of being seen as an out-of-place old man trying to relive his youth keeps it from coming out. I’m in the process of trying to lose that hesitation and let my body and spirit react to the music or art.

All I need is the spark of music. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yeah, it’s easy to play drums on the steering wheel. But bust loose at a party or event, that’s another thing. But what the hell, I’ve got to go more with the feeling. Because not going with it seems to be a kind of surrender. Especially if that spirit is deep inside you still. That the feelings a song can evoke could be repressed seems wrong now.

But that is the social norm. God forbid someone starts to stand or move to the music or break into a windmill guitar solo in public unless they are under 30 years old. It’s interesting now watching some of the older groups playing to older audiences and some stay seated for parts of the show. And I don’t fully believe that it’s the group that has changed but the listener.

I used to listen to music as I mowed the yard when I was younger, must have looked like Keith Moon on 4 wheels. I can’t remember dancing while mowing in maybe a decade. I’ll have to change that when the warm temps return.

In the meantime, I’ll keep practicing each day. And if the mood strikes me I’ll move to the music. Or maybe let out an occasional yell. Or just pump my fist in the air at a high note. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a flashback and do my Christopher Walken impression to Fatboy Slim up and down the isles at Home Depot.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • All I know today, is all I know. But think of what I will add to it tomorrow.
  • Yes I’m late putting holiday lights up but the mission has started.
  • Sports betting in Maryland. Further down the rabbit hole we go.
  • When I retire from my career in Newspapers I think I’ll start wrapping all the gifts I give in newsprint. It will help the enviroment and they will know who its from so I don’t have to put my name on it, I can just write the recipient.

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Distant early warning

Distant Early Warning. One of my favorite songs from Rush but also a very distinct feeling I have at the same time. Something in my survival instinct is on alert and preparations are needed. I’ve never felt like this since the 60’s when things also seemed out of control on so many levels that as a child I never really felt safe. I remember my Mom crying when JFK was killed, I was 6. Then MLK and RFK, protest and riots. I saw what war was doing to people and families when we would go to Bethesda Naval Hospital which was my father’s last station when he passed in the mid-1960s.

Into the fog. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m seeing more driving apart than together. It will be nice to see what effect this month of December has on society. We should look at the fellowship and commonality but we may be too far down the rabbit hole to make any real difference. In other words, the love and peace we share might be temporary and we return to our selfish mean spirited ways of thinking of each other as evil.

Now a lot of you would say no, people aren’t that way. And I do agree with that and look for the best in people and try to be the best I can be myself. We all see wonderful events of sharing, compassion, kindness each day. Far more than the selfish hateful acts. But I worry because I see some real seething hate and mistrust that gives way to alternate realities where it doesn’t even take events to trigger anger in reactions.

Well to hell with that serious stuff for a few days, I got a workweek to complete and a ton of chores. There are Xmas lights to hang outside. An artificial tree to assemble downstairs. A few party gifts to start wrapping and many other tasks.

There are family carvings I’d like to finish up before the end of the year. And I’ve got to get out and take some pictures around the county.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If these calls flooding me about Medicare plans are any indication of what getting older is like I’m going to pull the plug on my home phone.
  • My kids have newer tools than I do. Mine are broken in though.
  • The man that stole the Salvation Army Red Kettle with money is trying to set a new low in seasonal spirit.
  • It’s so nice gaining use of a limb again.
  • To the CEO who fired 900 people over a Zoom call, nice decision Bozo. To all the remaining employees. Your emporor has no cloths, RUN.

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Warmer thoughts

Warmer thoughts for a warmer day. I found an image I hadn’t used before that I liked and it kind of warmed my heart also because it reminded me of the goal of spending some time at the beach. A goal I didn’t do as well at this past year as I had hoped for.

But 2022 will be different. I’m going to wear a path between Woodstock and the Ocean this coming year. I think I’ll attend the arts/craft show in April, the Cruisin Car show in May, maybe a few day trips in June, and then a week in July. Then some more short stays in August and September.

Just throwing stuff out there is what I do. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve had a lot of ideas today, just not much time to execute them. And the same looks true for the rest of the weekend but I’ll squeeze something into the few free minutes I have.

I think I’ll spend some time tonight reviewing folders of work I might not have posted yet. Just like the shot above, I think I might have some images that might be enjoyed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m afraid I’m going to have a case of sticker shock when I go for a Xmas tree this week.
  • Gathered with some old friends yesterday morning for the first time in almost 2 years. We haven’t lost a beat.
  • Terps mens teams starts a new era today. I’m not pleased how we treated our last coach though.
  • If I clean my desk its just going to get dirty again because its my desk.
  • Refusal to adapt leads to a lot of issues.

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I’ve taken a few more sabbaticals from my blog this year. Some were planned, some just came about, and some were just spur of the moment where I had to just get away from the computer. Some were life or health interruptions.

One of those planned sabbaticals was when a group of my closest friends gathered for a weekend in October and had an excellent time. There were several observations I gained from it, for it had been quite a time since gathering for a fishing trip and party.

I’ll work my way back from the end of the weekend. Every goodbye was special. We had just shared some great times and the appreciation for it was foremost in our minds and hearts. And that has always been true but this time the realization that we are in our senior years now took a much more significant meaning at least to me, but I think I saw it in each of us.

Sunset at the end of the day of good friendships. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are things no longer taken for granted such as our health. Each of us has had medical challenges and continues to face some as most all older individuals do. So the realization has befallen all of us that each time we are ALL able to gather it’s priceless. It’s not like we haven’t already experienced a loss, one of the team passed in 2014, and that took us a while to recover from. When you have friendships that span several decades and they are close friendships, it suddenly changes things.

Think of a basketball team that has been together for decades. All of a sudden your shooting guard isn’t on the floor and you’re playing with 4 people. Everything you practiced all your life has been with 5, not 4. You learn the game again and after time passes you have lots of fun again, but that teammate who isn’t there really is because he isn’t forgotten. And as always he was toasted to again and remembered.

Another thing that is standing out is how honest and deep some of our conversations and expressions of what we have done together and meant to each other. Something this team always hasn’t the ability to do or we were just having too good a time along the way to say it. But it’s nice to hear and see being exchanged now.

It could be the age but I think it’s the relaxed confidence and comfort that old, excuse me, very old friends have that is unique among people. Conversations went from 1 on 1 to small groups of 2-4 and sometimes all of us around the kitchen and dining room or on the deck or porch laughing about tall tales from our past, wishes for our futures, the love of grandchildren, how many times we get up to piss which always reminds the beer pounders in the group its time for a piss. Topics were all over the place as usual but it was like a symphony with the timing and handoffs as clean as a gold medal relay team.

Oh and then there is the ripping on each other. We are brutal on any slip of the tongue and perceived or evident flaw. No quarter is given. Each mistake is focused on. Especially our unofficial leader, someone we call the Chief who takes the lion’s share of abuse being he is the most talented, knowledgable, personable, and kind human being. You can’t let someone with all those qualities skate now, can you?

I’m seeing that a few of the group have the potential to become chefs if we would like to, in our retirement years. I’m seeing that choices made during the lifetime affect the later years in life. I continue to see the gift of sharing which is inspiring. I see concern and advice being shared on a level deeper than in previous years. I see changes in attitudes based on changed locations and beliefs. But I also see a love for each other that overcomes that.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How can being a greeter at Walmart be a bad job. I mean you got to have a smile on your face all day from the laughter at some of the charators going in and out.
  • I’m finding I see things more clearly if I clean my glasses more often.
  • Taking short term solutions to long term problems probably won’t yeild the desired result.
  • And the forest will echo with laughter, does anyone remember laughter. – So asks Robert Plant.
  • Wild animals go matteress shopping every day.

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Is there anybody out there

The body and mind are in a fog to start this Sunday. Probably too much basketball watching. I’ll switch to football today to get a balance. And being we are still without a kitchen I’m going to fire up the grill later and cook a day or two of meals.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t accomplish what I had hoped for yesterday. A pretty common theme in my life but if I do take individual pieces of the day, I accomplished a lot of things. I haven’t determined if it’s better for me to plan a lot and shoot for that high goal and fail, or stop cramming the day and expecting perfection in everything I do and just be satisfied with what I’ve done that day. Usually, I try to do a mixture of both high goal setting and being satisfied at the end of the day but feelings of failure seep into my soul from time to time.

Why focus on the past when the day is ahead of us. I may be able to step outside, the temps might be in the 50’s for a few hours.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There isn’t a time of day that a Coke doesn’t taste great.
  • Strive for more information instead of rushing to judgement.
  • Remember just about everyone is missing someone special this time of year.
  • Well its for me to go look and find where I left my brain earlier this morning.
  • More to come later today because I have the time.

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Casting a new line

I’m in the final two years preparing for my new career, not much time. I’ll blink my eyes and it will be here and that is fine with me because the sooner I get to it, the better chance I have of getting proficient at it. This part-time effort is fun and frustrating.

The only frustration is knowing that I could do better with some time. I’m glad I started years ago. Photos I used to be proud of I now think about going back and shooting again. A million ideas of projects near and far, big and small. Starting some carving and etching projects again feels inspiring as they come to life.

As confidence grows with some small projects I look to challenge myself with new ideas. And there is something therapeutic about having a piece of sandpaper or a drill or Dremel tool in your hands.

Working on writing about something meaningful to people. Investing time in learning more about a subject matter and conveying that in words and images. And then there is a medium I really should be doing more with and that is video.

All these wonderful dreams and ideas and thoughts. And I sit here covered in sanding dust wishing I have time to accomplish them all. And while that is a pipe dream, maybe something I leave half done will inspire one of my children or grandchildren to pick it up someday.

Many mornings I look around and feel like a kid in a candy store. I look at a pad of Grumbacher paper and my pastels nest to it. Closer to me sit my tripods, one with a video camera and one with a digital camera. A beautiful color printer to my left.

I walk into my workroom and the beginning of a woodworking and etching/engraving station is taking place. And the tried and true trusty laptop that I bang out words and images, which sits on my father’s office desk is raring and ready to roll each day. Life is good even with limited time.

All I need now is the blessing of a full-time effort in the future.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m always amazed when I turn the calendar to the last month of the year. It really causes me to pause.
  • The true test of a good song is if it still makes the hair on your neck stand up decades later.
  • Advice from an old friend who is very sick. Spend time with family and friends and take advantage of every minute of life.
  • A difficult choice this weekend, do I overdose on college or pro sports or both? You know, I think sleep might win out tonight.

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I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving to those observing this holiday. Hat’s off to all the working stiffs who keep things going on this and many other holidays. So many take these few for granted. Being one who works a lot of holidays my respect to those who power through and miss events or come to them tired.

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

Well, this was a first for my better half and me. Alone without family on a Thanksgiving. Both children are out of town and our parents have passed. So we decided to go out to eat (no option our kitchen is undergoing some work) which lead to something I haven’t had to do in a bit. Find a pair of pants fit to take on a power feed.

I’ve been one of those lucky work-at-home stiffs so the need to put on slacks is few and far between. Well on the 3rd try I found a pair that had some room if I really decided to ignore common sense and go for it. We did have a wonderful meal at Alexandra’s in Turf Valley. And how could I go wrong with the company? And a really nice buffet that allowed for a lot more than turkey. I think I ate more prime rib than turkey. But it was close. Glazed ham and salmon were also very good.

Fog and early morning light. Photo by Mike Hartley

And sitting here thankful for a wonderful meal I’m reminded to share my good fortune and donate to the Maryland Foodbank so others can have that feeling. So I just did that. Remember the best gift is making someone less fortunate know they count.

But back to pants, I have returned to sweat pants and that is what I will remain in till the next occasion rolls around which is mid-December, and then it’s casual time again to finish out the year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Black Friday is one of the best days of the year to stay home. Everyone else is out shopping and I have the house to myself.
  • Home improvements just spur more ideas for more home improvements.
  • Rules of the road, if you want to play chicken wait till I’m in my 13 year old Chevy.
  • Lots of skills aren’t discovered till you start working on them.

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Just dropping by

Everyone is fully settled in, belly’s full, football still on the tube. I give thanks for all I have been blessed with and hope to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

A few more drops of life have recharged me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Oddly enough I had more prime rib than turkey today. I haven’t had prime rib in ages.
  • I miss the smell of a home that has been cooked in for the last few days.
  • Think of the car you don’t know in front of you or behind you that just did something stupid as being driven by your parents or best friend before reacting.
  • Tomorrow work will be turning some wood into sawdust.

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A sweet reminder

In the carnage of the world on a daily basis sometimes it’s hard to think that things will be OK. And maybe it won’t be but spending a day with my granddaughter yesterday after a few weeks’ absences have renewed my effort yet again to make it better.

Love entered my heart again. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I got a note from one of the sweet administrators I work with who always looks out for us night folks. She keeps us as much as possible in the swag that usually gets decimated by the dayside and today she let us know that the 2022 calendars are on our desk. People who do the little things for you speak volumes of the people they probably are on a larger part.

Sweet Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of sweet, my better half is always keeping this sweet tooth satisfied. I think I was born with a couple more than just one.

I woke up this morning and reminded myself how lucky I was to wake up today. You see that is something I don’t take for granted but waking up in pain from the surgery the last few weeks kind of made me put that to the side and that lack of appreciation almost became a habit till I caught myself this morning and paused for a moment of thanks. Ain’t life sweet.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Giving Tuesday should be a weekly thing.
  • Truth is a hard thing for everyone and the easiest thing at the same time.
  • The older I get the more respect for the body I have. I think I should have started earlier.
  • Please be careful on the roads. We all have loved ones.

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Hey, where did my ride go

Could someone call me an Uber or Lyft. My season is over and I need to be stored away properly.

Just an old friend in need of a ride. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about the absence again but made some good progress on a few projects. Especially the one where I finally got my Arlington National Cemetery photos printed, well most of them till I ran out of paper. I have 237 4×6 prints covering one of my office walls now. I should have picked a bigger wall.

Actually, I put them up to really get some friends and family opinions on what were the best ones to fine-tune and make larger prints for framing. I’ve found it really helps to get others’ opinions. But being out of paper and I have more images to print, I guess I’ll clear some space on another wall for the overflow.

At least I covered up all those pushpin holes. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I’ve been working on this the last couple of days I’ve had some different thoughts than when I first started out. First was there is a lot more in this wonderful place to capture. I probably haven’t scratched the surface.

I’d love to shoot more people but I have a great deal of respect for those who have loved ones here. And I believe that would be an invasion of privacy. I’ve seen a lot of those pictures. They are real and moving and I still don’t want to do it. I’ll shoot people from the back from a distance but I know how I feel when I’m at my parent’s grave and those tour buses roll around. I just keep my back to it. This is my private time and I’m guessing a great number of people feel that way.

I’ve discovered I have pretty good seasonal coverage except for the winter snow. So I’m going to have to make a trip this winter when we get a bit and see what snow transforms the place into. There are also some fairly good images with my old digital and I mean OLD so I might go back with the Nikon when I’m able to hold that cinder block again.

I also think that now that I have an abundance of 4×6 prints I’ll start cutting them into a photo collage as a future project. But first I’ve got to order some more paper and maybe ink while I’m at it and finish the last 40-50 images.

But I also have a few personal favorites that I know I want to frame, so I’ll get started on the larger prints today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The treadmill and I are becoming friends.
  • In regard to the weather forecast. I won’t be going outside on Tuesday.
  • There is a booster shot in my near future.
  • I feel like I’m starting to get my priorities right. With a few exceptions.

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This guy at the edge of the shore says sea levels are rising. I’d say he has the right vantage point. Google says 40% of our population in the U.S. lives in coastal areas but it only represents 10% of the land in this country. Look at it this way, at least we have someplace to retreat to. I wonder how we expect the world to work together when we can’t even agree on things at home.

Yep, they have risen. Photo by Mike Hartley

I wouldn’t mind being back at the beach now. The thought of a long winter season away from it is depressing. Only a few weeks ago I had my toes in the sand and the salt breeze blowing in my face. And what do I see as I walk to the sliding door in the basement but the snow shovels lurking in the corner? I hope it waits to snow till my shoulder is fully recovered.

Photo by Mike Hartley

No problem, I’ve made it through past winters and I hope to make it past this one. But as I said to my friends today. I opened the door felt the cold and I shut it and decided to stay in today. This may be repeated many times in the coming months.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can now raise the camera to my eyes and hold it there for more than a few seconds and take pictures. Not too many though.
  • The space heater has been activated. Man cave secure and warm.
  • Pain can take important minutes of the day away.
  • Do you ever wonder how many more calendars you will get in your lifetime.

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100 Yesterday

Arlington National Cemetery held commemorative events marking the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier yesterday. And a beautiful day it was for such an event. The Tomb is a spot I visit often. My parents are buried in an adjoining section, which is very near this. I always walk down and watch the changing of the guard after I visit with them.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I’ll walk through the empty Memorial Ampletheater, sometimes around the outside of it. I try to stand in a different spot each time as I watch the changing of the guard. I marvel at the precision and details of the Old Guard.

Tomb Guard. Photo by Mike Hartley

Most people come as visitors, but those who come for personal connections it’s part of our home. It’s a place of many and all emotions. Some very raw. Some that are just as painful as the day they became reality. Sometimes you see a smile. Sometimes you see people looking skyward. Sometimes just a bowed head. Many take a knee and embrace a headstone.

Looking for family. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I shed a few tears even before I pull in the main gate. Thankfully I’ve been able to pull it together by the time of the security checks. But then the drive up to their row sometimes triggers emotions. I usually feel good as I exit the car and begin the walk down their row. When I get to their grave sometimes it’s very good. Like this summer visit when I just sat and told them stories about the children and what we were up to. Just like a summer visit sitting outside chatting and I left with a smile and good feeling. Other times I miss them so bad I have trouble standing there and am just silent, wiping tears the whole visit.

Sometimes I think those different feelings are due to the different times of the year. Of course, I miss them more during the holiday times. Especially Xmas and Thanksgiving times. And summers for us were always more upbeat.

So I’ll end here and get back to work on the project of gathering some of the shots I’ve taken there on the wall for my friends and family to sort through for what is the best work. To me, it’s just pointed out a few things I think I need to go back and work on or shoot again, and other things I need to shoot for the first time.

Random Thoughts of the Day this morning

  • I long for the day I don’t wake in pain. But I also will think more about those that are fighting much more difficult battles.
  • Today I have many opportunities to make progress. Will I choose to do so is the question?
  • I forgot to add yesterday my appreciation for all that serve and have served this wonderful country. I hope you know the appreciation is there every day of the year, not just Veterans Day.
  • I’ve got to work on enlarging my palette of color.
  • It feels like reading season. It’s #39 in my book of things to do instead of going outside in the cold.

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Pull it together

Finding myself at the fringes of sanity lately. Lack of sleep, pain when awake, and stress from the job. But I will power on and this is one tool I find helpful in turning it around. Blogging helps me slow and gather my thoughts and sometimes adapt or change directions to cure what is ailing me.

Which Direction to choose today. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I need to look for some positives today. Well, it is beautiful outside in the mid-Atlantic region of the US today. So nice I’m going to fire up the grill again. Being our kitchen is under renovations the grill comes in very handy to cook with. I think even when the kitchen is done I’m going to continue to grill out more.

I’m thankful I have the common sense not to sit down and type after doing my PT exercises or you’d be subjected to a few paragraphs of explicative and other colorful languages I’ve picked up over the decades. And today is another adjustment by the therapist so it will feel good for a bit but once that ice wears off, I think Keith Jackson put it best with his phrase “Whoa Nellie”

At least the workweek is in the rearview mirror and I can concentrate on getting the strength to hold that Nikon up to my eye.

So let me get off the bench and into the game as the sun comes up on this fine morning.

Off those benches and into the day we go. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Working with young people is a good way to stay in touch with different schools of thought and logic.
  • Working with young people is a good way to share your experiences in hopes they don’t repeat mistakes that could be avoided.
  • Working with young people reminds me of the fun and energy I used to have and would like to return to.
  • Working with young people reminds me to think more openly and to live.
  • I guess that is another reason I like seeing my children and grandchildren, they remind me to live in today.

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Getting out

Wow, what a beautiful day outside. A wonderful day to dine outside if you have the chance. Or for that fact do anything outside and soak in these last few days of 60-degree temps and sunshine.

A wonderful day to dine outside. Photo by Mike Hartley

Get out of the office, hit the corner taco stand, or if you are rolling in disposable income sit down at that nice restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, but please make it outside.

Take a seat, any seat. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not at the office or flush in cash, so I’m going to heat up my lunch in the microwave, take it out to the deck, and soak up some rays. So don’t skip your break today and miss a wonderful day outside here in the Northeast.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Physical Therapy is making me think I need to get in touch with my body better.
  • The difference between outside projects and indoor projects, is where the dirt lands. One you don’t mind, the other bothers you.
  • It’s funny when you start working out, people talk about feeling the burn. Somehow my body skips that step and goes right to pain. But I hear rumor that this will pass.
  • All is right with the world, basketball seasons are under way again.

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A State of Mind

Wonderful state (Maryland) to be brought up in and raise a family in and now grow old in. But as with all good things, time can change them. Each one of those phases of my life has had its own challenges but has also made life special and presented many opportunities and joys. The central part of the state used to be very rural when we first moved here in the late ’50s, but that changed very rapidly. Now I hear many say and I agree, it’s gotten too congested.

Thankfully I might not have to fight rush hour traffic much longer to get to work, but getting anywhere is very difficult at times. All the things that people look for in successful communities are here. Good schools, good infrastructure, and services. Good employment opportunities. A place where you can drive west and hit the mountains in 2-3 hours or the bay and Atlantic ocean if going east at the same time or less.

Good day, Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

A state that has beautiful and very separate full seasons. It has wonderful small towns and big cities. Growth has changed a lot of things. I’ve always enjoyed the people very much. I’ve always thought of this as a friendly state and area. And I still do but it’s only in some areas I find now.

Maybe I just need to get out more and establish a new norm more like the old norm. A head nod and smile or hearty good morning/afternoon or just a simple hello or hi. And if it’s someone you know an extended hand and how are you. Well, I’ll extend the left one till the right side is healed.

In a lot of cases, as with a lot of things, it just takes the right effort with the right intentions and hopefully the right time to turn things around. And being the holiday seasons are soon upon us it won’t seem that out of place and I’ll just continue on from there. So off I go embarking on the eye contact and hellos. I will not be deterred by those who choose not to respond but to one day make them the exception instead of the rule.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to get a firepit soon but I can’t decide on the style I want. I got to get my better half in on this so a choice can be made.
  • I’m wondering how those people in the crowd felt after that concert where those people were crushed to death?
  • This week might be one of the last really nice ones outside for a bit.
  • I find a bag of frozen peas or corn more comfortable than an ice pack.

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Peaceful mornings

It was nice to have a Saturday morning where I didn’t have to jump up and get moving on chores or get ready to go someplace. But I do have one unpleasant mission and that is to work out the surgically repaired shoulder again today. I don’t want to get yelled at when I return to PT this week for not doing my homework.

That peaceful easy feeling. Photo by Mike Hartley

The mornings are the worst after it hasn’t been used all night to start stretching it out again first thing. Such is life though and I’ll continue to do what they ask because I’d like to get full range and use out of it again.

Hoping everyone has a smooth sailing Saturday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Seeing my best friends recharges me.
  • In a few short days Aaron Rodgers has gone from one of the NFL’s most popular players one of it’s least. More proof that you can really be good at a profession but still and idiot in life. Not only that the team and the NFL also have given preferentional treatment knowing he isn’t vacinated and making up rules as they go along for him and having another set for other players.
  • Seeing my children and grandchildren completes me.
  • An extra hour of sleep tonight. I could do without the time changes we have here.

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Saying more with less is a skill I don’t possess.

Too many words, too much banter, I must sound like a cantor.

Words that ramble on without end, yet I keep posting and do not bend.

For a blog that started out to be about pictures, I stir words around in bad mixtures.

There is no rhyme or reason for the thoughts of the day when I could just say hey.

But that wouldn’t be right, and then how could I learn to write.

So the effort will continue, I’m sorry for the learning curve, but that is life and learning to swerve.

I’m a man of limited time and means. So I’ll leave you with this moment of time in front of Justine’s.

St Michaels Maryland. Look at the little girl gazing inside while holding Mom’s hand walking by. Photo by Mike Hartley


I’ve got to admit I do like milestones. Be it the number of years one is married, the years at a profession, or a single employer. Or maybe something personal like surviving a medical crisis or the loss of a loved one. It could be the number of fishing trips together or vacations with friends together at a spot or a gazillion other fine events.

With family and good friends, these can span decades if you were lucky. And I have been one of the lucky ones. Some of my best friendships span over half a century now. I’ve had 46 years in the same profession with 3 employers, 2 of which are over 20 years.

But today’s milestone is my own. I was looking for my avg words per post, because I’m trying to do more with less, and I happened to glance at all-time numbers for this blog and it was at 1999, this post will be my 2,000th.

Yes, it’s less than I had originally hoped for at this point but I haven’t given up, and I kind of feel like I’m just starting because I’ve gained some confidence and a clearer picture of my goals and interest along the way. Which has reminded me it’s not the number at the end, it’s all the times that lead up to it.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The less I see on TV, the more I see.
  • Some day you just have to turn the volume all the way up.
  • It’s always a good time to spread some love.
  • Listening to so JJ Cale this morning. So “call me the breeze” because I’m out of here.

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Mistakes are cool

Every once in a while, well maybe a lot more than in the past, the old digital is showing its age. I’ll get home and some of the images just look as if they did something other than the settings I might have used. Or the focus isn’t right or my lazy behind didn’t get the tripod out, or a number of other things.

Hay bale in the morning haze along Woodstock Road. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Then again, it may be operator error which is very possible at this age. Regardless I’ll snap away and regal you with my ineptness or luck.

Not sure which mistake I like. Photo by Mike Hartley

And then again, maybe both were intentional? Hopefully I’ll be back later today with some more images.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Philly prezels are good.
  • Philly cheesesteaks are great.
  • Why are people from Philly mad about? Oh that’s right, Eagles, Phillies and Flyers.
  • Progress is an endorphin.
  • A workout is something that should be looked forward to.
  • You can ignore yourself but you can’t fool yourself.

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It’s interesting to learn how much I rely on my dominant arm/hand. And when you don’t have full use of it and have to change it’s quite the challenge. So for a few weeks, I get to practice being a Lefty. It’s made me think I should really do more with my left. So that will be one of my goals for the future. Ambidextrous I believe it’s called.

Trying to calm my mind while chaos swirls all about. Photo by Mike Hartley

I really tried yesterday to pull together a post, but physical therapy and a long workday left me a little behind in the schedule. And with an election night last night in our area, the business I’m in kept me plenty busy all night long. But tonight I’m taking a sick night because I have been hurting and I’ve got PT again this morning. I thought it was a pretty good effort to make it a normal week and not impact the job. Shoulder surgery on Friday, lots of pain on that night and Saturday. Worked Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings for at least 11 hours each.

My main objective was a good night’s rest for a change of pace. I just can’t find that balance. it’s either like the weekend before where I slept very well and for a good number of hours straight through, or very few hours of broken sleep. Maybe retirement will allow me to find that sweet spot. Because while I got 8 hours this evening I was awake every hour it seemed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you aren’t worrried yet, it might be time to start. But don’t spend all day on it.
  • It’s going to be very important to know who your real friends are in the future.
  • No matter what else is happening in my life the words “I love you Papa” make everything ok for a good while.
  • Each day I get closer to removing myself from Facebook.
  • I stepped outside yesterday early which removed all incentive to go back out during the day.
  • I’m trying to document my better halfs kitchen remodel project.
  • Life is a team game. Most people don’t get that.

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Lights out

Friday it was lights out for a few hours, the body went in for mechanical work on the right shoulder. Feeling poor and way to go for complete recovery. That is OK though because I’m looking forward to one less pain to deal with. It was causing loss of sleep and ability to do things and what I could do would be painful sometime later or immediately if I really screwed up.

I long for the day I can raise my right arm like this again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I wanted to get a fresh start in November and start working hard again here. It’s going to be tough with many PT sessions scheduled over the coming weeks but that will help me get out and about. Maybe it will get me using the tripod because holding that heavy Nikon isn’t in the cards anytime in the next week or two. It’s a slow lens anyway and could use the steady footing instead of this old man’s shakey back.

So here is hoping we are off to a fresh start with fresh images and fresh thoughts.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Pain can reprioritize your day quickly.
  • Last night took the life out of me.
  • I’m going to work on being happy, they always say set a good example for your children and grandchildren.
  • As I look at my arm now I can’t image hoisting a basketball even a few feet and that would be an underhanded shot. But as I start rehab tomorrow I’m going to think about shooting 3 pointers all day long next spring and summer.
  • The first freeze watch is in effect for tomorrow night. I think I’ll bring in that really nice rose I see outside.

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Getting to the point

Interesting concept, getting to the point, one I dance around sometimes. Do I have to have a point? I suspect some days not. Some of the best writing doesn’t lead me to a specific point but makes me think outside a box and look at many points. Looking at other photographs doesn’t make me think I want to duplicate that point, it makes me say wow, I’ve got to try more but in my vision and with my subject matter and with my medium of choice.

Yes, it’s helpful to come to the point when debating maybe. It’s good to get to the point, on the plan of action. It’s certainly good to get to the point of your feelings about another person. You don’t have to share everyone and sometimes you might just keep it to yourself if there is a lack of trust for instance until it could be established. And if it’s someone you love make sure they know that point.

In the Town of St Michaels MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it’s about finding the right angle to make the point. As is in a lot of cases when I start a post, I see a picture like the one above, and a title or first sentence or paragraph just rolls out. Do they all make sense or hit the point? Probably not but it doesn’t deter me. I enjoy trying to create something that started out with a point but is still on a long journey finding it, or not. Like today’s rant.

I think there is an old adage “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” that I’ll use as an excuse till I find my path and point. For instance, I just stepped outside the previous evening and I saw lots of points in the sky that took my train of thought in an entirely different direction.

But back to getting to the point. I guess the point today is finding myself. I was reading a post from the Art Of Blogging on using a tool to find my blog’s niche. The reason I do this is mainly selfish. It makes me feel better. I find it helps me think more positively. I know it helps me learn because it spurs me to read more. It helps me create more and hopefully have something in it for others.

If nothing else just my thoughts and pictures for prosperity for my family. I started out thinking this was a way to exhibit some of my photography but it feels like it can be so much more. I’ll leave the determining of the niche of this blog and my other work to others to determine down the road. Now I see it as a very open-ended tool to learn and explore.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The day is young, The sun has barely cleared the horizon. Time for bed. (I wrote this one around 7am.)
  • When you realize you can never do enough for your better half, and they for you, then you have something special.
  • Progress is so much fun you can start to lose sleep over it.
  • It’s interesting when you realize the phrase “time catches up with us all” is real and may apply to you also.

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Something in common

Saw this guy on the beach trying to survive the other day. The seagulls were around and he was trying to make his way back to the water it appeared. And I thought to myself, hey we have a lot in common. We both like the sand, we both like the ocean and we love the sun.

Growing up. Photo by Mike Hartley

And even though he seemed to get defensive on my first shot I think he was glad to have a guard standing by being the seagulls had spotted him.

Can I make it to safety? Photo by Mike Hartley

And being I was enjoying the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and the sun peeking in and out I was in no hurry to leave.

Time to Run. Photo by Mike Hartley

So after adjusting his eyes from sideways to upright, he made a run for the water and we parted ways with his frustrated preditors circling overhead. And we both get to live another day and both of us are grateful.

Random Thoughts of the Early Morning

  • I always seem to bring a little of the beach home with me in the form of sand. Time to get the car vac out tomorrow.
  • Just fired up the furnace for the first time this year.
  • Working nights during winter months is depressing. Then again not having a paycheck is really depressing.
  • I just wondered if I do better work at night than I do during the day?
  • Feeling inspired, I hope it last.

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Isn’t it sweet when life just cruises along? I’ve been able to tune out the nonsense the last few days and it’s a very relaxing feeling not being caught in news cycles or work or chores. Of course today it’s back to the reality of earning a living and preparing for the coming cooler seasons.

But that is OK because I know I still have some time off to use this year in the bank. And I feel like I’m getting a better balance on the things I’d like to accomplish with those that others deem important. Getting back to work blogging and photographing is a good start.

Catching a breeze. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve made the mistake that life is this unending journey with infinite time. It isn’t and now I’m scrambling to do what I should have been working on all along. Not that I would change anything because the most precious things to me came out fine but I know I wasted time that I’ll never get back that could have also been productive.

So I remind myself each day to make the best of it, to be productive, and accomplish all the things I should have.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Mornings come around fast than evenings.
  • Thanks to my better half for putting up with me all these decades.
  • Some mornings moving my neck around sounds like driving down a gravel road.

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Just a short blast this morning before I head out the door before daybreak to work on my craft. It’s so nice to have a few minutes to work on the things I want instead of working for someone else doing the things they want.

Doing what we love, creating. Caught this young lady at St Michael’s on Saturday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do what you love. But sometime you have to work very hard at what you don’t to make the time for what you do.
  • Do you ever wonder how many sunrises you have left?
  • Some people live by half the adage (Do unto other) and forget the rest. Watch out for these people.
  • I’m really hoping the youth of this country can save us because the rest of us older ones don’t give me much hope.

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Details are important. That is why I try to read more than listen to sound bites or short clips or even news segments. Knowing details on the job has always been a strength of mine. Not that the big picture isn’t important, it’s just I’ve been on the doing things part of the job more than the management of it most of my career. Even when I was in management I liked getting into details of things.

I build my own toolshed of information and tips/tricks to make things happen or work. I’m looking forward to learning again in many ways. With my focus changing to things I’m far from an expert at, is going to take some time.

Loving nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

Details are easy to overlook and often are. From little stuff like getting that oil changed on the mower or adjusting the belt periodically. As I get more time to photograph and hopefully move into that sphere of work, I find myself involved in many details. Am I prepared when I go out? Things like knowing the environment and weather conditions. Are your tools ready to go and do you have all that you need? Do I know how to use my tools to the fullest extent?

When I shoot nature I’m always open to all my surroundings. Lots of time I might start out shooting some birds but end up focusing on the ground when I discover some fresh mushrooms growing from a rotted tree. Or maybe as I leave a wooded area how nature is interacting with man and his development. The examples are endless but it’s the tools/details you develop and thoughts that supply the inspiration for images.

I took a few minutes Thursday to detail and wash the go-cart a bit. That has been long overdue and I didn’t get to the engine compartment but the trunk and door and all the seams are clean. The interior could use some more work and will get it next week. Now that I have a cover for it life is good and that clean appearance can last a while.

Also went for a ride around the Ellicott City area. Probably one of the last, comfortable days (the mid-70s) with the top down and shorts/tee shirt and windows down. There will be many more days with the top down but the seat warmers and or heater might be employed. The windows might be halfway or all the way up. I rarely see people using the convertible option as late into the seasons as I do.

I’m not averse to throwing that top-down in mid-January if the temps go into the 50’s and it’s sunny. I think that wild hair comes from my motorcycle riding days where a mid-winter ride was needed for sanity. I’m so glad I got a convertible. I’ll never own another car without a drop-top.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t mind long drives if its to the right destination.
  • I wonder if there is a day where I will get everything done I hoped to do when the day started?
  • If I had the ability to make time I’d be too busy to get to it.
  • I promise not to curse out loud if the temps stay above freezing. All bets are off below that.

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Blown away

It was one of those weekends where you could step out the door and get blown away. So we went with it. It was downright windy on Sunday and Monday. But beautiful also with that crisp air and huge clouds making shadow patterns on the water from time to time.

Mist from the waves pounding on the shore was the only thing in the air besides huge birds gliding high above us. Time with the best of friends and good food. What is not to love. Oh yeah, had to come back to work and reality for a while, till next time.

Who’s imitating who? Photo by Mike Hartley
Wave crash. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Afternoon

  • It’s a car wash type of day today. Therefore tomorrow is a cruising day.
  • I take a good number of pictures for my friends. But when I hand them prints there is an excitement I get to see that I miss when I send them in email.
  • NBA action has started so all I need now is College basketball to begin.
  • Watching nature is beautiful. It can also be cruel as hell at times though.
  • I almost made the mistake of rolling up my hammock and putting it away for the cooler season. Today and tomorrow are excellent uses for such a device.

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A reckoning

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

Sunset Folly Quarter Road Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Folly Quarter Road in the fall. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Looking north on Folly Quarter Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Evening

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

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

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

Life is short, enjoy the view Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Morning

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

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Music powered

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

Start Me Up says the Stones. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Morning

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

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Stormy Monday

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

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Morning morning

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

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

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

Last night’s Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Morning

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

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Entertainment Nextdoor

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

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

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

Most popular questions:

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

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

Flags at attention today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Starting and finishing

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Rock On. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Missing out

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

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

Flip and Flop Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Mid-afternoon morning

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

Mornings are cool. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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A smoking good time

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Nothing else matters

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

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

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Fall in HoCo Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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A great night

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

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



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