THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


Thank you and Condolences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home for a few decades. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

There were planters filled with trees and flowers in a vast open lobby in Columbia. Kind of ironic if you think about it. The only trees that came into Main street were in the form of Newsprint rolls that weighed around 2 tons each. If you brought a plant into the Main Street office it would have been dead in 24 hours due to the chemical and ink smell, lack of light, and covered with the newsprint lint. The bathrooms were clean in this new office. You didn’t worry about ruining clothes by accidentally brushing a wall or door as you did on Main Street. It had air conditioning which that old drafty and dirty location in EC only had in the front offices. In the summer we would sweat like pigs and in the winter we would freeze our behinds off.

The new building was one of the first things I warmed up to. Maybe because it actually did have heat and A/C. But in meeting Bob I could see where his inspiration for the remarkable design of the Flier came from. He would always give me a warm smile just like the skylights scattered throughout the building did. He would stop and talk or invite me to his office which was next door to our photography/reproduction area to look at new architectural drawings. Bob was a talker. I know because they say it takes one to know one, and I am one. I think one of my first visits to the building for my interview for a job, Bob was out in the lobby and introduced himself with a welcoming smile. He wasn’t part of PPC but he was in a special way.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The longer I was there the more it felt like home. New friendships were made and many have lasted to this current day. It was a special place to work. With Bob’s design and Jean’s spirit that place was as alive as anything, I’ve experienced. Jean was a driving force for that organization. And their spirit was infectious to many who worked there for many years.

Thankfully many people above me allowed me opportunities that allowed my career to flourish. And in that, I got to work and touch many areas. There might be only a small handful of people who know that building better than I do. I think I crawled and worked in every inch of it several times over. I was there day and night so I got a great view from it. You always knew what the weather was because there was a window or skylight everywhere. Well, not the restrooms but everywhere else.

You could see your friends coming in from a good distance so you could prepare pranks on them. You could see who was having a rough day and was out walking or sitting in the parking lot or deck behind the building. You could look out the back windows at the huge daycare facility and watch the hundreds of little tykes in their Halloween costumes doing their annual parade around the parking lot. You could go up the ladder in the loading dock to the roof with a folding chair and look out over Columbia. Oops, that part wasn’t well known.

The old Editorial area. Photo by Mike Hartley

The place had a grand lobby. It was where we would gather for our company photos. It was where half my crew would be caught trying to chat up the receptionist of the day after dropping off reproductions to the design departments.

I lost count of the times the interior space was redesigned for our constant expansion. And Bob seemed to be part of that process often. The whole building felt like my home. It was small enough where you knew all the inhabitants but large enough to not be a mom and pop shop. We were the second-largest publisher in the state of Maryland behind the Baltimore Sun which eventually purchased the company shortly after I left.

Light from above. Photo by Mike Hartley

They say the tone of a company comes from the top. Well, Bob and Jean created a beautiful place, filled with a beautiful spirit, a ton of ambition and dedication. And that feeling seemed to trickle down to everyone who walked through those doors to work there. And when I left there I had some tears in my eyes because I knew something special was passing.

Bob faced some daunting and huge medical challenges in his life but that smile remained.

So thank you Bob for designing a wonderful home and to you both for making it feel like a real family lived there. RIP Bob.

PS: Please forgive the quality of these pictures. I had the opportunity to visit the building after it closed and the staff had moved downtown Baltimore. So it’s far from its pristine and beautiful days. Especially when it was filled with a lot of great people doing wonderful work and having fun together.

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Its time

I guess with a high temp of 50 degrees and the low dipping into the ’20s the next few days, it’s time to put the shorts and flip flops away. Always a depressing thought and action for me.

Goodbye till spring. Photo by Mike Hartley

So onto a winter season, we go. I know, we are a month away officially but once the temps get below 60 it’s winter to me. Despite this prospect, I’m in fairly good spirits. For the long term, forecasters say it will be a mild one here in the mid-Atlantic.

Those worn hardwood floors under my feet in the photo have all been sanded down today and it looks wonderful. Once the stain and sealer are on it will look great. Then the molding and the job will be complete. I’m more of a carpet man myself but I’m willing to go with this change because it makes my better half so happy.

She really does have a very good decorating sense and concepts and it always looks much better when she makes changes. She talked me out of doing the refinishing job myself. It would have taken me too long to do all those floors and moldings. I would have had to rent or buy a good size sander. Having it completed in a few days is the way to go for a job like this. We will be a day moving everything back in and hanging everything up again once we get the all-clear on the clear being dry.

Maybe I’ll try that move Tom Cruise did in that movie Risky Business with the socks sliding across the floor.

I was able to spend a few hours with my Son on Sunday and it was great. I’m so afraid things are going to get to the point where we won’t see each other for a while again. I hate the thought of that. It broke my heart the first time and I’m sure it will again when I can’t see my children and grandchildren.

For the first time this football season, I came out on top of my son’s and I head to head contest. I will probably return to the pasting I’ve been receiving all year next week. Sports have always been a good connection for us. For a few minutes, each week where we trade emails of our picks, text a few times on who’s ahead, and then someone gloats at the end of the day. We talk about our favorite teams and players. We hit a few games here and there.

Football season leads us into our favorite, College BasketBall Season. It would be nice to see that but it appears football will even have a tough time finishing so my optimism is guarded about basketball. This may be the first time I don’t see a Maryland game in person in decades. Maybe I should pull the ball out of the closet and shoot a few hoops myself, I know I could use the exercise. I thought I heard the treadmill laugh at me when I passed it the other day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The definition of a poor loser is being redefined daily.
  • You know what I like. When I hand someone a photographic print and then look intently at it for a while and without a spoken word I can feel their happiness. I think I’ll get busy making more prints for people.
  • What if the scales you weigh yourself with came with sound effects?
  • Work through it or nap through it. Whatever works for you.
  • Uh Oh, I need to order more ink.

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So many ways

There are so many ways to be successful. I never knew this for a long time. One of the things that enlightened me to this was to stop using other people’s measures. And that success comes in small pieces. Mainly along the way before others see success.

Take the Climb Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t give myself much credit for success till late in life. I should have but my own measure was way too high and sometimes unrealistic during lots of my early years. I should have been a lot more sure of myself and not full of doubts. I worked hard and made good decisions.

I didn’t appreciate the responsibilities when getting married, getting a home, starting a family, and raising children and would panic throughout those days. I didn’t see the change from myself as a kid in school who didn’t apply himself to a working professional who did. And when I started to climb the ladder I didn’t see myself as an equal, when many times I was probably more experienced and or knowledgeable. I didn’t know how much energy both physically and mentally playing a caregiver role could be and I always questioned myself every step of the way. Only well after her passing did I realize effort.

Success is not always the top management position or lead engineer. Success in your professional career shouldn’t negatively impact your personal life. A lot of top jobs do and it’s hard to keep that balance and perspective.

I struggle with keeping that balance even late in my career at times. I put in extra hours for nothing but far less than I’ve done for most of my life. I love what I do and work hard to be very good at it, but the job is now a means to an end instead of one of the primary forces in my life.

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

Performance reviews are far from what they were, earlier in life. Yes, I still listen because there is always someone smarter and I hope to pick up some view or knowledge I didn’t have before. Maybe a direction change or role shift. But in regards to how I feel about how other grades of me, they aren’t threatening anymore in the least. I know how I do. Salary reviews don’t hold the weight they used to. No more feeling resentful for too little or overjoyed at a nice one or bonus.

So I’m closer to being at peace with myself than at any point in my life and that is kind of nice. And though I regret the decades without the knowledge and feeling I have now I’m not going to spend time regretting anything from the past but be proud of it because my measures of success now allow me to look back and smile.

I’m also excited to get a jump on retirement, not for the relaxation or the travel or the resting on past laurels or reminiscing about the old days. I look forward to creating much through the arts of images, words, carvings, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Also on my making my better half happy and laughing. And most of all seeing my children and grandchildren grow up and inspire them. And I won’t be offended by being known as the old guy who likes classic rock music loud once in a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I were smart I’d give up drinking so many Cokes. But my taste buds apparently have veto power over the brain.
  • My son has been kicking my behind in football picks this year. Which is a good reminder of why I gave up gambling many decades ago.
  • The home office remake begins today. Well, at least I’ll begin picking it up a bit.
  • I get to see my son’s new foster dog today. I had better get the cameras out.

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Adapt and enjoy

We all are adapting. Do we like it? No is the easy answer. The trouble is we’re not on the same page so this isn’t getting better. This morning I was discussing with a few co-workers the stress and anxiety you can see in everyone.

After that conversation was over my mind wandered to the day ahead and watching my granddaughter. And then it hit me. My survival guide for the next few months is going to be. I’m going to look at each day like a young child would, full of opportunities and possibilities, new experiences, and wonderful things to discover. But I’m going to act like an adult and exercise caution, take steps to be as safe as possible, listen to those with greater knowledge and act on those recommendations.

The first (thinking like a child) should improve and carry my outlook and attitude forward each day. The second (acting like an adult) will carry me to many more days beyond this crisis.

Some days are cereal days. Some are just a fruit and nut bar on the run. And then there are those days where you have some leftover steak from the night before and you decide to cook an egg with it and you get a double yoke. That is the sign of a good morning.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I wonder where I’m going when walking on the treadmill.
  • I don’t know who came up with shrimp tacos but hats off to you.
  • My song for the day “Ain’t Wasting Time No More” by the Allman Brothers.
  • Time to step up again and support your local restaurants and small businesses.

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Remember and appreciate

Thinking of my father and other family members who have served in our military on this Veterans Day 2020. And thank you to all the families that have served or supported those members who have.

Beautiful headstone from Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe we can take some clues from these individuals. They had it hard. All we have to do is keep our heads above water till a vaccine can restore some order. Let’s try to be brave from their examples, and support each other, as the troops did for each other.

Previously we have been able to pull together to accomplish great things and have great freedoms and prosperity. That is what sets this country apart. What do you think our allies and enemies are thinking now. We used to have this illusion that this was one nation. And we proved it actually at various points in our history. Will we be able to return to those days?

Looking for my edge again. For some reason, I’ve lost that relaxed feeling in my mind that allows the unfocused, random, and trivial thoughts to emanate from this clouded and cluttered mind with frequency. Actually, now that I think about it and I know the reasons. But I must overcome them and utilize my days wisely.

Like today. I got to hug my daughter. It made my day. I worry that I might have to go without hugging my children again for a while. I didn’t think about when I was hugging her but something felt intense about the hug today. Kind of shared but unspoken knowledge of facing tough times now and ahead.

I saw this in Ellicott City the other day. I believe there was a sidewalk sale going on. Looks like someone was selling a set of clubs and offering their tools to level out your game.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feels good to put hands to keys. I think the saying used to be “putting pen to paper.”
  • It’s not only important to listen but to choose wisely in whom to listen to.
  • Last night of the workweek. I’ll feel a lot better in about 12 hours.
  • Incorporating music again today. And it feels good.
  • It’s a good soup day.

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But for how long

I was down in Ellicott City taking a few shots and I saw the Bar Open sign on the Manor Hill establishment and I thought for a second for how much longer. I see our Governor did an update the other day because like most states our numbers are climbing again. I like his frankness when he said “Just wear a damn mask.”

Bar Open for how long? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m guessing it won’t be long till we are reverting back to some rules we had earlier this year if things don’t improve. I know I’m going to start scaling back again. But at the same time, I hope to get out more for a little exercise. This holiday season is a good time for me to work on the beach body. Not that this has been a successful effort the last few years but I’ll always keep trying. At this age, I’ll settle for a 4 pack.

I really don’t like the sun going down so early. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday’s walk was nice because I was able to wear shorts and a tee-shirt and that weather will make it a nice few days ahead also. And this Friday didn’t disappoint at all.

No twisted traffic today in town. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Today I put on my yard maintenance hat again and see if the body holds up to the day’s activities. Got the front half done yesterday. And if I’m fast about it I might take a walk with the camera later today. I also have to spend some time carving this evening.

Do you go to Happy Feet before or after the Distillery? Photo by Mike Hartley

One of my best friends just gave me some great news. I’m so happy for him and his wife. During these times it’s good to appreciate the good news of any type. Because life is about focusing on good moments.

Trees aren’t the only colorful thing in town. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I hope everyone is having both a healthy and good weather day to enjoy this wonderful Saturday.

I should blow up the part of the woman inside peering back at them. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Felt good feeling that sun on my skin yesterday. Would have felt better on the beach but I’ll take it while sitting on the tractor.
  • More sun and fun today. The top is coming down. High test in the tank. Traction control OFF.
  • I’m on a mission again. Feeling positive and challenged.
  • You know what is really funny. I see Trump’s family is asking the GOP to have some backbone. Don’t they know their father removed their spines long ago?

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All clear

With those winds changing the look of the trees by stripping them of leaves we have entered the least favorite time of year weather-wise for this guy. But at the same time, I’m glad I live in a spot that has a distinct change of seasons each year. The season change is also a good marker of time.

Fog behind tree Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes my mind wanders to the thought of how many seasons are their left to enjoy and watch pass. So I’ll try to go with the flow better in the next 5 months. Why not make the best of it. I hope I don’t repeat what I’ve seen some older people get into. Wasting what precious little time we all have in less than positive thinking or appreciation.

Speaking of time. This will be the 12th Presidential Election that I’ve had the pleasure of working at a newspaper. Election time is exciting. The whole operation is abuzz with activity. And by abuzz, I mean controlled and uncontrolled chaos. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same. I’m encouraged by what looks to be an increase in participation in the voting process. This is when it works for all of us.

Flying straight the last few days. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m hoping for a peaceful day, followed by another one and one after that. I can hope, can’t I? Well, I’ll try to maintain calm. That should be a pretty easy task being I intend on staying in. I voted early so no need to stand in any line today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The day is young, I’m not.
  • Math is important on a day like today.
  • I don’t know if I’ve been lucky or if the hard work paid off.
  • I think I’ll saute some mushrooms in butter.

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Go big or go home

I love some of the pumpkin art I’ve seen this year. It gives me hope that the human spirit is alive and well. At least the liquor stores are still open for those in need of inspiration. My favorites were the detailed carvings that looked like a zoom meeting.

Pumpkin from Bumpkin Yes that is a full size skid under it. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not a big pumpkin pie fan but it’s OK. I don’t do pumpkin-spiced anything. I haven’t dressed up in decades. We do decorate and hope for the kids at the door which didn’t materialize. The spirit for this year’s spirits seems to be muted just like many other parts of life.

In my neighbors garden. Photo by Mike Hartley

No big parties to show off costumes and revel with friends. No contact trick or treating if there was any. Let’s hope by this time next year it’s a different story.

Will we take the right path and direction into the holiday season? It’s difficult to even think about retreating where we were in March, April, May, and June, but it seems like it’s a possibility and approaching reality.

Lets get on the path to health again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I keep thinking back to what my parents and grandparents would be thinking now. They went through wars where they were continents away from families fighting for their lives each day. Limited to no communications for long periods. It’s no wonder those embraces at the end of wars look so intense.

And here we are complaining that we can’t have an indoor dinner or need to wear a mask. I’m going to try to appreciate each day and make the best out of it which is really easy if we think about it. Pretend you’re a Marine and Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. And one more thing, try to help those that can’t.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • A little voice inside me said, “get your ass in gear.”
  • I don’t believe I’ve ever seen businesses boarding up their stores before for an election. Well, times change I guess. Let’s hope we don’t have to repeat this 4 years from now.
  • These cold mornings remind me that hibernation is near.
  • We have lost our trust in many things. Very sad.
  • Feeling so loved by my children.

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A few minutes

Went out to drop my ballot off this morning and was lucky to catch the sunrise at a corner near my home. I’ve got to make a practice of getting out around sunrise because it just starts your day right.

Photos by Mike Hartley – from corner of Woodstock and Rt 99.

It gets me in a productive state of mind. Let’s see if I can keep the momentum going this fine Halloween Day.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I have discovered I need much less shampoo than when my hair was longer.
  • As the leaves fall this time of year, it reminds me I have neighbors through the woods behind us.
  • Working through difficult times makes you stronger. It does come with scars though.
  • I feel bad for the kids this year in regards to Trick or Treating. On the other hand, there may be more candy in the house.

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Speed and replenishment

The rapid pace of events has conspired again to overwhelm the resources of my time and energy. But it’s time to hop back on the fun train and regain my footing.

I read something recently about being over the hill and the pace picking up because you are now on the downhill slope. Sometimes it sure feels that way. I just hope I don’t do an imitation of a guy running down a sand dune so fast that they just start to tumble and crash.

My better half and I took a short break from the rat race this past weekend. And instead of being pulled apart by many waves of pressures and responsibilities, we took a few minutes together to replenish ourselves. Which was my thought while standing close to the closed beach at Bethany Delaware watching them do a sand replenishment to the shoreline.

Got to work together. Photo by Mike Hartley

I had just a few minutes to wander the boardwalk there before heading back home Tuesday. There were about 7 boats (tugs, barges, boats) executing the beach building.

Tug Sea Wolf pushing barge into place. Photo by Mike Hartley

Getting to the ocean for me is like this beach rebuilding operation. I rebuild my internal beach. I fortify it against the relentless pounding waves.

A whole fleet working on the project. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love Maryland and Delaware beaches. Why you may ask. They aren’t the whitest sands, they don’t have the best waves, they don’t have crystal blue waters. To start, I don’t have to get on a plane, in a few hour’s drive, I can be there. The sand is still really nice, fine, and clean. The surf is mild which is great for swimming unless there are storms offshore. The water seems to get clearer and cleaner each year. The temps are nice and the place is a ton of fun.

Tugging away. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s important to take those breaks. Sometimes just to be with that someone special even though you’re with them at home more now than ever. Getting away puts things in a different light.

So now that I have sand back in my step, bring on winter. Photo by Mike Hartley

And celebrating 40 years together was very nice. Oh, we stayed in Ocean City where the beach was still open.

Fishing is a splash. Photo by Mike Hartley

So get to your shore and refresh your batteries.

Catch the wave. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a strange sense this is the calm before the storm. Hopefully, it’s just a storm of good sentiment.
  • If there is one thing that cemented a choice I made long ago before the 2016 election was that I didn’t need Twitter in my life. Soon I won’t have to hear about tweets each day.
  • It’s funny and sad how others seem to think they know everything about you even though they have never met you based on political affiliation.
  • Time to start renewing and practicing being careful again.


Back in stride

I’m starting to feel productive in my personal hobbies and endeavors again. Just making some more time for it and enjoying it as much as I can. At the same time, the same old and new stresses continue. I’m getting used to it as the new abnormal.

It’s interesting how change and stress evolve over time. Some are able to turn it around, adapt, and get even more creative and motivated in support of life and others. The opposite also holds true though and many get more stressed and depressed. And probably the largest group in the middle as always trying their best to just tread water and stay positive despite being beaten down daily.

Having a bad hair day in that weather. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today doesn’t look like the best weather here in the state of Maryland to be out and about but I’m still going to grab the cameras and head out in it. I’m kind of excited just to have some time and be with my better half.

Last night was a special evening. A memorial mass and dinner for my father in law who passed earlier this year. I hadn’t been to church in a bit and it just happened to be in the church I got married 40 years ago almost to the day. So it was interesting the feelings that came up. I still remember him walking my better half up the aisle and giving her hand to mine.

As the whole family gathered in his honor I could almost feel him watching so intently. Soaking each one of the families loves up to him. As I scanned the church upper balconies for some reason I was looking for a face. I didn’t find a familiar one.

As I gazed forward my mother in law was directly in front of me but separated by an empty pew. If there was a spot where his presence would be it was right there. Right behind his wife who was flanked by his oldest son and daughter. I could imagine him leaning forward and wrapping his arms around mom and then all three of them.

I thought about the thousands of times my mother and father in law sat in that church together, hand in hand for weekly services. They also worked hard for that church in both time and resources. I believe it was appreciated but that isn’t why they did it. They were just two of many good people in this world who do things for others without recognition or gain in mind.

I worry about the toll the loss takes on Mom’s heart though. After all those many decades together, how does one get through the day? We all try to do our best to keep her spirits up and celebrate the things we can in small ways but these times create a lot of difficulties. The physical support of a hug or a kiss or whisper in the ear is changed. And that is such an important part of emotional support. Doing that elbow touch instead of that firm handshake and one arm hug just doesn’t cut it for me with the men in the family and I also miss the embraces of the backbone of the families (the ladies).

I’m not the most religious individual on the planet but you see people come together with that giving and loving spirit within them does make you think about a greater good.

My observation and I think my feeling about the way I’ve lived and seen others live that I respect, is that if you have done it right, your memory, spirit, inspiration, love, and quirks will live on far after you can no longer share them day by day. RIP Dad and let my parents know I made it to church without getting hit by lightning.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Mistakes. Last night I went to bed in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Dodgers up 7-6. I wake this morning and find Tampa Bay wins 8-7. This isn’t going to help me go to bed in the future.
  • The first day of the season where temps probably won’t get out of the 40 degrees range along with showers and drizzle. Normally this would trigger a hostile attitude but I’m going to go with the flow and dress for it.
  • Well, the sun isn’t up yet but I have a lot to accomplish this fine day so I’ll be leaving you till later. May everyone have a great Sunday.

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Stop, hey what’s that sound

The rhythm of the song was guiding me yesterday. Well, not all day, a lot of it was the hum of the mower engine and cutting deck for a few hours but I did tap my feet to some music I listened to before the cut.

Thanks Mother Nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

Don’t you worry, about a thing, those gutters will be cleaned before night. Says the song Three Little Birds. Don’t you worry about a thing, because every little thing will be alright.

I sure hope everything will be alright. Living in times of uncertainty. Maybe we will pull it together for the holidays and the soon approaching new year. I’ve been thinking this is a year that is for giving a bit more.

Well, I went and did it. I was going to let my hair grow for at least a year. I made it 8 1/2 months. My better half reminded me it didn’t look good and I agree, it just needed another year or two. Maybe I’ll give it another shot when I get older. It had reached Jerry Garcia’s length and the curl had returned. And I also have the grey beard, just a little shorter.

There are a couple of things I’m sure of. I try to tell people I love, that I love them, as often as I can. And when I’m gone they will always remember that even though I can no longer say it, they are loved endlessly.

Today was a good example of life. It was so foggy this morning nothing was clear. It was damp and wet which seemed to travel throughout my bones. Then the warmth started and the sun burned through the haze. The rest of the day was beautiful, satisfying, and relaxing. I felt like a fully charging solar panel. And as the song goes, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn some important lessons.
  • I think I’ll hit Ocean City next year when they have that cruising weekend. I love looking at classic and custom cars.
  • Hey Cheeto, Does “rounding the turn” include driving through the guardrail to our deaths?
  • Charging all the batteries today for a weekend full of shooting.

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I was helping watch my granddaughter yesterday and I love how it reminds me to look at life in a different light. When I’m with her I see that wonderment and discovery with that inquiring mind trying to figure things out. And that unbridled smile and laughter when things are going well.

Life can be a ball. Photo by Mike Hartley

Life between 1 and 2 years old is filled with discovery. Senses are being discovered. It’s almost like you can watch the gears turning inside their heads as they go through the day.

Then there is something we could all use a reminder of. Love begets Love. Their simple hug or raising their hand toward yours to help them with a big step. Or that full out run and leap towards you on the last step when playing peek a boo. Maybe just her falling asleep on your side or the enjoyment of a new food or combination of something together and her signing MORE to me.

You know it also reminds me that a nap in the middle of the day isn’t such a bad thing. Wish I had time to take one. Maybe today. Anyway, it was a great day with the exception that I didn’t get to shoot much of anything. Let’s hope I can get my behind outside today.

And yes I’m aware my hardwood floors above need help. They are being refinished next month.

Thought I’d continue the round theme in the first image. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random of Thoughts of the Day

  • There are a lot of people now who need help. Soon there will be even more that need help. So let’s get to the business of helping them. Isn’t that the right thing to do?
  • Been a long time since the troops (my best friends) and I were on maneuvers.
  • It’s going to be a strange holiday season ahead.
  • Funny how hypocrites don’t know who they are. Or maybe they do and don’t care?

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that Spark

I was wondering where that personal and professional spark I used to see in some people went to? Hell, I used to wonder what I did to my creative spark for decades after I buried it. But I found it again and I feel lucky as hell.

The moon getting ready to rest for the morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

You need a spark in life in some fashion. Some people carry around a box of sparklers they have so much energy in so many areas. But a few will pull you through. I hope to tickle a few of my sparks today to put me in a better place.

I’m going to try a new spark this week by trying my hand in the kitchen. Making something really good to eat is almost as good as a good picture. I guess that is why I rarely take food pictures. As soon as my visual or smell senses are triggered the time between that and eating is too short to grab the camera.

But I’ll take a break from food to try to get a few new images this week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The final series coming up for the boys of summer.
  • Know yourself well. The more you like what you see, the better you’re doing day by day.
  • I think I have a new goal in life. I’m well underway in redefining Tired.
  • I see Coke the makers of the diet drink Tab are discontinuing the drink. I wonder if someone will make a New Tab?
  • I always keep a few of the first photos that I was proud of around to see how far I’ve come.

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Around Town

A nice ride around town Thursday. Well not town, more like country. The warm breeze and sun hitting my arms and legs getting the last few minutes of strong sunshine to maintain my fading tan. But as my tan fades the colors in nature are starting to explode.

Fall in HoCo Photo by Mike Hartley

The sunlight also did what I was hoping and that was to improve my mood. It seemed like a long work week. I wasn’t getting enough rest and could feel the stress building up. And having the top down with no destination other than enjoying a ride and finding a spot for lunch was the best.

And that spot was Anthony’s NY Pizza and Pasta House in Clarksville. Each time I go there I’m more impressed. It’s a ways from home but quality Italian food is worth a drive. We will be returning.

Finished the day with my two best friends, filled with laughter and fun. I had intended to post when I got home but promptly fell asleep. Thursday is my transition day from a night existence to a normal daytime life. This switching back and forth seems to be taking a much higher tool on life than it used to when I was younger.

I’m trying to hold on for another few years but it’s not going to be easy. Sometimes it’s physically tough, sometimes mentally. But now it seems to be both each week. Such is life. This is an easier cross to bear than many others in these times.

Today music is saving and inspiring me at the same time after that dreary Friday. Sort of like waves hitting the beach. So much so, I want to get up and kick myself in the behind for not incorporating it more in my professional part of the week.

As I was blowing leaves off my deck today I decided to leave this one on the screen alone.

Hang on till spring returns. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The cold this morning royally pissed me off.
  • Does anyone get the feeling everyone is about to explode?
  • Wasted time and wasted opportunities are difficult to overcome but if you don’t you won’t enjoy life. So just move onto something that is worth the time and makes you happy. I think I’ll work on a carving I started for my son.
  • Picking up the camera again the last couple of days feels good.

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Look for the right things

Today I looked in the mirror after washing my hands and saw this oval shape on my shoulder of my black tee shirt. I looked a little closer and it was the shape of a mouth. And then a smile crossed my face as I remembered picking up my granddaughter after lunch and she put her face into my shoulder after she had taken a big sip of milk. I’ve never been so proud to be a napkin in my life.

Come back soon. Well when it gets warmer. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • After the nice day ahead tomorrow, I think I’ll settle in for my winter hibernation.
  • I have a taste for ribs brewing.
  • In some ways, we have the opportunity to make some really good changes for the world and the people in it ahead.
  • Pain has re-entered my life as a frequent visitor. I’ve got to remember how to deal with it and move on also till it goes away again.

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Breaks and beginnings

Sorry about the break from posting the last week. That apology is to both you and myself. Life intervened again, some good some not. I really miss reading other blogs and doing my own to the point that returning to it today seems so sweet. Hopefully, this will mark a new beginning and I can get back to some of my own hobbies again.

Only some of my life is in focus. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going along more with the swings of life than I used to I guess partly because I just know that is the way life goes. Experience is a wonderful teacher. Control sometimes isn’t within your grasp and for us control freaks that’s troubling. So you have to adapt and modify actions and expectations. Let’s see how this kid can do it again.

In the spring its the pollen. In the fall its the leaf prints covering my car.

Each leaf leaves its fingerprint. And there are a lot of fingerprints on my car today. Photo by Mike Hartley
And the deck and gutters will soon have their fill. Photo by Mike Hartley

The next few days promise some warmth so outside I will be.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling like my creative mojo is on vacation.
  • Time to remake the gallery in my office.
  • Pain relief = having the help you need with the stuff that hurts you if you do it alone.
  • Not driving as much as I used to for years now, the crazy stuff I see now surprises me more than it used to. Which means I was getting immune to some really bad stuff.
  • Happy B-Day to the US Navy and RIP Berta.

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Busy is good

I’m finally getting a handle on busy. I just needed to prioritize and act. The more I prioritize that I really don’t need to do the more time I have. And if I spend that and the other time acting more gets done. It’s an interesting balance to maintain. Doing it often and correctly is entirely another matter.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes its very simple. Do I cut the lower back yard every week? Hell no, because it isn’t used and isn’t seen for the most part. I used to at one time cut it every week because I was concerned about the look of my yard. Yeah, I cut it every other week and nobody is the worse for wear.

Other times it’s very complicated decisions. Cancer woke me up a few times this last decade and changed my thinking. Family and friends are kings of my life and time now. Expressing myself in different ways is important to me. Be they just sharing time and love to taking a picture or writing or making something for them.

For years I prioritized some of the wrong things. Too much emphasis on career/work. Not enough on my children and wife. Sometimes for selfish fun. Not sorry I took some time for that but at times it was out of place.

At different times in your life, you might be asked to step up and put your life on hold. Caregivers know what this means. Grandparents raising children know of this. Caring for extended family or friends. These things can take busy to new levels. Just be careful.

But my busy lately has been balanced and good. Glad I have my health to stay busy.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve been listening to a lot of old Crosby Stills and Nash and CSNY lately. I wonder if its the influence of the long hair I have again.
  • I guess the people who don’t believe the virus is real or much to worry about don’t spend much time praying for the families affected by it.
  • World Teachers Day – Much love to the two wonderful teachers in our family and all those that do so much for our children.
  • The lack of common sense and ignorance among people is very disturbing.

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Feeling good this weekend. Had my granddaughter a few days this week and they were wonderful. The innocence of a child’s laughter and smiles. There wonderment when you play games and tricks with them. The enjoyment of watching them eat new foods. And just in case my daughter is reading this one I didn’t give her anything bad. By the way, she likes bacon.

Thankfully my better half reminded me there was more to Saturday than chores. And I was feeling better after a rude Friday evening. We took a 2-hour ride around the county and enjoyed the sights. Seemed like everyone had the same idea because traffic was intense for that afternoon. Even on the back roads.

Old EC was hoping. Photo by Mike Hartley

So a beautiful Saturday was had. Could be a little warmer but I’ll cope. What I’m having trouble coping with is the neighbor’s roosters each day. Getting miffed every morning when they wake me before dawn. And forget taking a nap during the day because they go off several times during the daylight also. And when I’m working a night shift its just brutal to try to get some sleep. But I’ll get into that another day. Maybe I need a visit to this establishment on Main Street that I haven’t been in. I think its the building where the Horse Spirits Gallary was.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though its only in the ’60s for a high temp today that means its still a top-down day on the car because the warmth of the sun will be there. That drive yesterday was nice. I just have to remember a day like that in January or February would revive my soul so I won’t complain about it being a little chilly.

I wonder if the population of this country (U.S.) will get its act together enough to overcome this virus? I have my doubts. So many needless deaths and people sick for short and long periods. It makes me wonder about people’s lack of compassion for each other.

I saw a blogger ask what’s in your drafts folder. At this moment I have 270 draft posts in there. Some of which will never see the light of day, some may be a germ of an idea that gets developed or one that should be trashed. I’ve had drafts come back years later and seem more relevant or have a photo or two that I need for another post.

Some are photo ideas I’d like to work on more because I’m not satisfied with the images. Some are images I’m very pleased with and I don’t have the right words to go with them.

I guess I should really clean it out and finish some of those.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Too bad everyone can’t get half the care the President gets.
  • I found out where the time goes, to the past.
  • Holly crap, I forgot to flip my wall calendars again.
  • I have no idea how people go through life without a significant partner.
  • Could you imagine what we could accomplish if we were on the same page?

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Change it

I observed someone change the conversation yesterday back to some positivity. It was a nice thing to watch. It took him some time but he persisted and redirected it. Everyone benefited from this one act. Which got me to thinking how do I get a balance in my conversation.

Going to water some positive thoughts in my own way. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lots of issues, serious ones need discussion. But they also are very difficult at times and not likely to leave anyone laughing. But there is a time a place for them. Some much of that is mixed into our normal course of getting together that it’s easy to let that become too much a part of important things like love and encouragement and laughter and joy.

Well, I’m going to try to be much more conscious of interjecting observations or my beliefs. In other words, know your audience. Then again there are times to be serious and let at least family members you hold dear your thoughts on safety, preparation, and emergencies. Remember, you just don’t flip a set of car keys to a 15-year-old and say have at it. So why would the rest of life be different?

Timing is another thing to pick carefully. Sometimes communication on difficult issues isn’t in our control and must be made even in awkward times.

But overall I’m going to try to keep more to myself. I’ve always tried to be a better listener than a talker anyway but I fear as I’ve aged my balance is out of whack. So in my effort to make what might be a stressful winter and holiday season, I’ll try to be a sign of optimism. That is till I have a bad caregiver or childcare day, Then all bets are off. Just kidding. Maybe

As I cut the yard yesterday I noticed we already have a pretty good supply of leaves on the ground. Enough where even though I have a mulching mower and cut into a circle center, there is enough that needed raking

Colors soon to appear. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Good start for the Lakers the other night. Let’s keep it going this evening.
  • Karma can be a bitch.
  • Do you ever feel not like yourself?
  • Got to get out and do some shooting today. The camera kind.
  • It’s that in-between season again where a pair of gym shorts and flip flops ain’t cutting it.

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It’s on

My friends are well aware of my dislike for cold temps, cold winds, cold precipitation. So my best friend sends me a picture of his pool closing with the cover on and says he has extended the invitation for The Hawk (our term for cold). So it’s on, the battle for the season of dread is on.

I need the Bubble. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I go to the Farmers Almanac and check their prediction and what do I see? BAD NEWS. The headline Extra Cold and Snow this winter for the state of Maryland. All right, at least I know what I’m dealing with. A little extra fuel for the generator if an emergency strikes. Chop some firewood. Stock up on food. Hibernate.

Keep that flame going. Photo by Mike Hartley

But on the very good side, I don’t have to worry about making that long commute into the bowels of D.C. And that is a very good thing. So that will make this fall season a little better without that hanging over my head for the months after that.

The start of the workweek has been brutal. And yet I’m in very good spirits. I guess it all depends on the perspective. With the debate tonight I figure it’s going to be an extra busy night for news. Which means volume, late deadlines, and lots of eyes on everyone. So let me get back to the madness.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it ironic the show “The Weakest Link” is on right before the Presidential Debate?
  • Today I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Trading Places. “You know it occurs to me, the best way to hurt rich people is turning them into poor people.” Ain’t karma wonderful.
  • Life is short, eat well.


Soggy, sad, but looking up

This wet damp weather must not be good for my body or mind. Feeling like crap this weekend. But what I’m really bothered with this morning is the fact that I missed National Daughters day. My children are the most important thing in the world to me and the last thing I want them to feel is that they are anything less than the most important thing in the world to me.

Time to find the light. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, I try to let both of them know each day of the year how special they are to us. Yes, I try to keep up with these new observances but the more I try to get away from Facebook the less I’m aware of these events. I guess I should go out and look at a yearly calendar and put them in my events to make note of.

Today I’m trying to turn this less than 100% physical hulk and dampened attitude around. I read something from an old coworker about how they just tuned out all the political stuff for the last 3 weeks. and we’re getting there sanity and cheerfulness back. That sounds like a good idea. I know who I’m voting for. Nothing is going to change that. So why spend time listening to this. Well, I do have to pay attention to it on my job but when I’m off I think I’ll just ditch the news except for sports and the weather.

I feel like I’m in a fog. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being comfortable in your own home is very important.
  • I’m concerned that things are going to get far more complicated quickly and soon.
  • My better half made my day by fixing me some eggs and biscuits the other morning. Little things count for a LOT.
  • Sometimes you think you know someone.

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I’m free

I’m Free again till Sunday night when the workweek resumes but till then this kid is in charge. Well as much as the illusion allows. I don’t know if it’s over 5 decades of full-time work (I started young) or if it’s just the point and place in my career after all those years that has me tired.

Kicking it to sunrise Photo by Mike Hartley

Please don’t get me wrong. I go into work each week trying to improve, be the best in my area and group, support my teammates, and give more than an honest day’s work. In my job even when I’m off I’ve never really been off. Being on-call or just an emergency resource leads to some strange hours.

But this break from the job that pays the bills is nice. Oh, the choices of things to do with those precious hours. Maybe hug my better half, work on my crafts, catch up on some rest, watch a game with the boys, get some exercise, work on the yard and home. So many choices and so little time.

Thinking of some great friends at Bethany Beach Delaware . Photo by Mike Hartley

I was relaxed on the couch and a commercial came on that started me thinking about the holiday season coming up. And it’s funny my first reaction was not one of joy and anticipation. It wasn’t a chill of what special gift ideas I needed to come up with to get those smiles I look for in my loved one’s faces. It wasn’t thinking about who’s home, the rotation is this year for Thanksgiving and Xmas. It wasn’t about the positive energy of anticipation I feel going into a New Year.

It was a sense of sorrow and uncertainty. It was a sense of almost dread of what was on the other side. Just because the calendar changes doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that 2021 is going to be better than this year. It’s a sense that gatherings will be smaller or not at all. It’s a sense of the chaos of the last 4 years will ratchet up in the coming months. It’s a feeling of medical uncertainty. Its a feeling of financial uncertainty.

I’m sure I’ll push those to the side and behind me as much as possible and put on a positive and fun holiday face. But just below that smile is one of sadness knowing many families will be experiencing holidays with the loss of loved ones, sick family members, facing great financial strain or employment issues. Or just the stress of all that has transpired and will in the coming months.

So let’s help keep the spirits up as best possible. Let’s not forget those in pain and struggling. Let’s try to keep our cool.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Unless you have the patience of Job don’t try to be a caregiver.
  • There are so many people skating on thin ice it’s bound to give way.
  • I’m a firm believer in “Be nice, until its time not to be nice”

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Decked Out

I used to be the only one laying on my deck but looks like I’ll be sharing it with the leaves for a few months now. The time to layout and catch a few rays is dwindling away. Think I’ll take a day or two of vacation and enjoy it before I don’t want to go outside at all.

Photo by Mike Hartley

What a beautiful day outside. Time to head out and put the top down and go for a spin. I was thinking about that the other day. How many people just enjoy cruising anymore. The percentage of time where people are running from spot to spot for appointments, jobs, errands, visits versus just getting in the car on a nice day with no direction/destination known other than what your hands do on the wheel when you come to an intersection.

The feeling of hitting some backcountry roads instead of the congested main arteries. No time constraints or need to rush. Just taking in the twist and turns in the road. Listening to some of your favorite tunes. Going slow enough to glance left or right and see something new that you would never look at any other time you’re going from A to B.

The time to do this seems so few and far between now. I guess that is why I look longingly of the days in my teens and early 20’s when we would spend lots of time in the cars. But maybe someday in the near future that time will be available in large quantities again.

Oh yeah, happy first day of Fall.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Along Sand Hill Road – Howard County MD.

Patterns – Photo by Mike Hartley
Organizing – Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to work on getting my balance back this weekend.
  • I’d like to know the number of deaths that will shock us into the proper action to at least save some future lives. Right now it appears there isn’t one.
  • My new neighbors have enlightened me to the decades of peaceful living I had before they got here.
  • The tougher things get the pool of people to help gets smaller quickly.

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Keep learning

I enjoy learning. Sometimes the book and technical kind but the learning about life, people, myself, nature, love, raising family, animals, arts are all more my passions. I got too busy at times with the technical learning that I lost my balance and found myself not as happy with the learning process. It was leaving me to saturated and drained to enjoy those other things. Well now I’m turning that balance the other way and I’m enjoying life much more. But the common thread is I’m still learning. And if I ever slow or stop learning I’m hoping the two teachers in our family remind me how much fun it is and get me moving again.

The Baltimore Aquarian is a good place for young and old to learn from. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday I got busy learning about woodworking by doing it. Going to try to do a few pieces a month. Starting off with some items for family members. Either they will be good for a memento from Dad or good for a family laugh or maybe both. We will see, I have some basic tools, drill, jigsaw, sander, Dremel tool. And most importantly a large supply of wood to make mistakes with.

Today looks beautiful outside so out I go to enjoy some SUN. Well at least for a few minutes while grilling up some burgers before sunset.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Don’t wait till you’re older to start appreciating living each day.
  • Seafood dinner for the last 3 weekends. Life is good. Just following the Governer’s suggestion in supporting our local industry in the month of September.
  • The last 4 years have taught me a lot more about people.
  • There are many good points about being anonymous.
  • The last year has been filled with extreme highs and lows. At least I can say it hasn’t been all bad.
  • I’m too busy to bitch about being too busy.

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I not sure I even know the goal anymore. I thought I knew the goal. Stay healthy, try to keep those you love healthy. You can’t say just stay safe. There as many interpretations of that as there are people. Some can minimize risk, many can’t. The disruption is so great its torn professional, academic, entertainment, travel, restaurants, hotels, air travel apart. Everything is being touched. The best you can hope for is that your companies are making good decisions and can be flexible and that you’re limiting the exposure to yourself and those around you, but maintaining some kind of contact and sanity.

I guess I got riled up today with the changing status of schools in the area. Having family members in the Education field worries me greatly. I can’t imagine what young professionals are feeling now. That uncertainty, if they haven’t been affected already has to weigh on them.

My apples for all the teachers stressing out. Photo by Mike Hartley

Both my better half and I have issues that make getting this virus a deadly threat. We have wavered in our diligence over the first part of this pandemic. Some done due to family emergencies, some not but overall we are more cautious than most from what I see.

Anyway, I just have a great deal of trepidation about these coming seasons. Fall and winter aren’t my best regardless of the year but this year might be really different and difficult. Going to do my best to keep in good spirits, try to stay positive, keep physically fit, and support family and friends. Oh yeah, I’ll start that stuff as soon as I get over this bronchitis.

OK, I’m going to get off my behind and get the cameras charged and get out the door tomorrow. Even if its cold in the morning I’m going out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Reading Facebook’s terms of service really makes me wonder about using that system.
  • I look at the beauty and grace of falling leaves and I spend a few minutes smiling watching them fall to earth. Then I think AHHHH Winters coming!
  • It’s too late in life for me to be redefining tired.
  • One of my neighbors is having trouble with boundaries. Even though I’m not a certified teacher I’m good at delivering messages.
  • Much respect to RBG.

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I have a project in a 2008 Chevy that I’m trying to bring back to life and make her look good again. And boy is this baby in need of some TLC. Mechanically she is back on the road and tagged. Yes legally. And if my test ride today was an indication I might have these wheels for a few years.

I kind of enjoy bringing things back to life. If you take care of it the resale value is the best. But I enjoy a clean and good looking ride. So I hope to take good care of this for a good while before its time to part ways to its next owner.

Another thing I’m detailing is homestead. Trying to get some wear and tear on the siding, brick and concrete cleaned and repaired. So tomorrow is a caulking and gap-filling day and if it’s dry enough I might pull that old John Deere out of the shed and take care of the yard so the weekend is free.

A lot of people look at these types of activities as work. I look at it like this. I enjoy every minute of it because one day I might not be able to do these things. So every lap of the mower or power washing something or digging a fence post, I’m thankful that I’m still upright and healthy enough to do them. I still remember the days inside recovering from surgeries dying to get outside and do yardwork.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The two things wrong with people who think they know everything is that they think they know everything and despite facts, they don’t know everything they will continue to believe they know everything.
  • My neighbor’s son is making his first start for the Baltimore Orioles tonight. Good luck Bruce.
  • I never thought I’d say this but there are too many sports on at the same time.
  • My annual cough is back.
  • Let’s all have a good weekend. I would hope that would be one thing we could agree on.

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Sometimes you just have to step outside and look and wonderment will be provided. I didn’t sleep all that well today. We were watching our granddaughter and had to go pick up a repaired car which was a steep bill. So I was feeling a little stressed with a full night of work ahead of me. I stepped out back like I do most nights before sunset. Some birds were flying around but then I noticed a Red-Headed Woodpecker hammering away on a dying tree out back. I got the camera and tried to grab a few frames and I couldn’t figure out why the bird kept moving around so much. I had it on max telephoto and kept having to refocus and move around the tree.

Photo by Mike Hartley

That is when I noticed it was a pair of them and they were playing. I watched them fly in circles around my and a neighbor’s yards. Darting in and out of the woods and then to clearings where they would really move and dive. Then a quick stop on a branch and in a blink of an eye they were off again but they were playing in radius centered in my back yard. They reminded me of two WW2 pilots zigging and zagging, with rapid ascents and dives.

Just the two of us. Photo by Mike Hartley.

It gave me joy and peace just to enjoy a few minutes of nature having fun and reminded me how simple life is at times. Like making my granddaughter laugh today. I feel like I have the world in my hand.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Smiles cure a lot of ills.
  • Grandchildren. A seniors workout system.
  • Last night of the workweek. HELL YEAH.
  • OK, enough of the cold nights. I want summer back.

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Pets are a wonderful blessing. They become family and very important to people at various stages of their lives. And this one was family and important in the first seconds she came to us. I’ve had the blessing many times over of the love and attachment of pets for our family.

Today’s anniversary marks the passing of one of those loved ones. A very special one who we thought might not make it at a young age. Siblings had feline leukemia and passed. After we survived that scare she landed in the vet hospital for many days with feline pancreatitis and almost died. That was the first time I ever had to make a financial decision about pet care because it was very expensive. Well, it really didn’t need a discussion. It just paused me because I knew it would set our family back and we had young children at the time and weren’t rich. Even if we spent a ton of money it wasn’t even clear she would survive. But those are the commitments you take on when you get pets. You are responsible for their wellbeing.

But she survived and lived and loved for well over a decade more. She loved and took care of us as we did for her. But for one family member, she was more than a pet. The closeness between them was wonderful to watch. The support they gave each other. The loving sounds and play. The tears when and longing looks when they were apart. The excitement when reunited be it each day after grade school and waiting for them by the door to get off the bus. Or when she left for college and would return for visits.

Animals can teach us a lot about life. Loyalty, Love, Fun, and Rest. I’m a firm believer that pets are able to communicate with us and us with them. I’m so glad that my children have the love and respect for our 4 legged friends. I think that compassion for animals is essential in life.

I wish I had the words to say how special the relationship with your first pet is. It stays with you a lifetime. It provides both smiles and tears. It’s tough to do as you get older because the loss is harder to deal with. But I will always have the place for a pet in my home and heart. And I’ll support those who don’t have homes.

I know this is a difficult day for my daughter. I want to give her a hug but jobs and life are keeping us apart today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I worked hard all my life to become smarter. Now I’m finally there and I’m having trouble remembering it.
  • If your happy with what you have done in life. Good for you. I’m beginning to think that this is a limited club.
  • Some people can be very comfortable in very uncomfortable surroundings.
  • Some people underestimate the intelligence of people to their own peril.

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Cinnamon Buns

Any day that starts with a warm cinnamon bun being brought to you on the couch on a Sunday morning is a good day. Then again here I am on Sunday night and realizing another weekend has slipped away into the memory banks while another workweek starts. And I’m pulling a solo effort tonight which isn’t the way I hoped to start the week.

Another shot fishing at Danials Dam Photo by Mike Hartley

So time to pull the fishing pole from the water and return to the job. Hopefully, it will be a smooth one. I’ve had more than enough excitement for a career.

I believe you should stop and pause at least once a week to think about your accomplishments. It would probably be a good thing to do daily but those tasks are always put off to another day. But a week is about as far as it should go. I did it today and it felt great. I worked hard in the yard this weekend. I got an old car fixed and now I have a winter vehicle. The caregiver and childcare roles were done with joy and satisfaction. Another successful workweek with a complement from the bosses.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I forget my age. But usually, at the end of the day, my body reminds me.
  • For the first time in a very long time, I feel my hair moving in the wind.
  • Are you ready for some football? Interesting how all sports are being played at the same time now.

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Missing you

Yesterday was my Mothers birthday. She passed several years ago and I still miss her so much. I always will. But over time the missing them changes. At least it has for me. The pain changes. The memories that come back in reminders of them from time to time bring more smiles than tears as time goes by. The pain never goes away but the pain is mostly limited to those few days (her birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving, my birthday, graveside visits). The many other days of the year where I catch a glance of a photo of her or see something that reminds me of her I smile.

Eyes that could look into your heart. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even the smells of Thanksgiving dinner that used to be painful are now cause for a smile again. I remember how she loved to cook that day and see the smile on her face when she got everything on the table and was able to take a breath and sit down.

I try to imagine the smile on her face if she were able to see her great-grandchildren and hold them. I know how much she enjoyed and loved her own grandchildren.

It takes a while to get to this point. And I’m sure it’s different for everyone. Plus the times of death of a parent can have a dramatically different reaction. I can attest to that also with my father passing at a young age. I had a host of emotions from anger to rejection and abandonment. I lacked the age and wisdom to understand at 9. As I grew I didn’t deal with it. I ignored it and then I used it as an excuse to live hard. I had to come to peace with a number of things over the decades.

Anyway, there are a lot of people in a lot of pain on September 11th. But as time has passed for me and the memories of loved ones passed for many others, I hope that the smile that my parents now supply me in times of difficulty and missing them is extended to those who’s families were so tragically touched on September 11th.

So today begins anew. I wrote most of this post yesterday but the lack of rest caught up with me and I crashed. I’ve moved the tractor is out front waiting for the grass to dry. The push mower and string trimmer are at the ready out back. Now, normally I’d just put my head down and get to it with the thought I might at best get a draw with mother nature today. But I have an extra set of hands today with my son coming for a visit and offer of assistance. Maybe victory is at hand.

I’ll be glad not to ache at the end of the day and call that a victory.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Please always take a moment on September 11th each year for a few moments of silence. 8:46am – 9:03am – 9:37am – 9:59am – 10:03am – 10:28am. Thank you.
  • My body and mind sent me a shutdown command last night, very early.
  • The one consistent thing about a lying piece of SH*T is that they will never admit to being a lying piece of SH*T because that is what they do.
  • I wonder how the players and coaches felt when being booed at the NFL game Thursday night. Some fans might want to think that this might affect how future players (both black and white) consider playing or not for your organization.

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Well, isn’t that special

Don’t know why that phrase from the Church Lady skit on the old Saturday Night Live popped in my head. And because it did I had to go watch an old clip. Good for a laugh to start the day. Humor can cure a lot of ills. That is one of the things I do with my friends. We laugh and laugh and laugh. And we laugh some more. Sometimes we cry from laughing. Laughter has made people fall flat on the table or off their chairs. I’m looking forward to some laughter after the workweek is done tomorrow.

It was a foggy morning, but it turned into a nice day to get outside.

Fog over Lake Habeeb Photo by Mike Hartley

So Monday was Labor Day. I believe it says that this is a day to honor and recognize the American Labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the developments and achievements of the United States. I had to sit here and let that sink in for a minute.

I believe the August unemployment rate was about 8 and a half percent. So that is a lot of labor that is hurting. Seems like the bottom half is getting hit hard. Let me see, has that happened before?

Some ironic things also to be hit in the near future are state county and city budgets, that employee those EMT, Fire, and Police we need. They have gone through an incredible period of stress and now they face cut ranks.

I guess cutbacks could hit all aspects of the budget. Teachers, infrastructure, and more. They are coming, its just a matter of when and how much. Will we butcher it so it doesn’t even resemble a tree of services and resources?

What kind of haircut is this. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sleeping on a nice afternoon feels like a waste, till you have to stay up all night.
  • The good thing about letting your hair grow out is you can play with different styles as you shorten it instead of having it short and trying something and having to wait for it to grow back.
  • Way to go Lakers.
  • Despite my lack of work on the blog, its been a very productive last week.

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Decisions decisions, I wonder what the fall will bring. Will I have to return to the office next year? When will I feel comfortable eating inside again with many people? Will the country break out in civil war after November 3rd? What will the Christmas season look like this year? Will the flu shot be effective? Hitting the PAUSE button. Reset mind. Think of the sun setting on Summer and enjoying the last few warm days of the year.

Seasons changing soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, the choices I make today are enjoying the beautiful weather. Love those around me. Maybe take a few photos. Make a charitable contribution. Take a ride with the top down. Knock out a few chores and maybe a nap before my work week starts this evening.

As I was telling a friend the other day one of the things I’ll really enjoy about retirement is being able to have a holiday weekend. I’ve missed many over the years because of work. Such is life though. You would be surprised at how many people work on holidays and weekends. Think about the services you need 24/7/365. There are lots of them, aren’t there. A tip of the hat to all those working with me this holiday weekend. And to the day we can celebrate with the rest of society at the same time.

I’ve dried the morning dew from my ride and headed out and grabbed a few frames in one of my standby places. Old Ellicott City. They are having a sidewalk sale this weekend so it’s a good spot to go out, enjoy the weather, and support local merchants. Of course, I was there too early for them to be out so just a few joggers, cyclists, and couples out for a morning bite to eat and coffee.

The last Times Newspapers building when I left it in 1979. Photo by Mike Hartley

What a beautiful morning. A sweatshirt was needed with the top down because the temp on the car dash said 59 degrees as I cruised from my home to EC.

This used the be the loading dock entrance to the Times Papers. I unloaded many a truckload of newsprint there. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s a special town in many ways for me. It was my first job in my lifelong chosen profession. My wife is from this town. I started my own business in this town. I got married in this town.

I never get bored shooting this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve enjoyed shooting this town in good times. I’ve had to photograph it after floods and fires and it broke my heart. Sort of like life. Good times and difficult times.

I wouldn’t mind cycling into town. It’s the hills getting out of it I’d have an issue with. Photo by Mike Hartley

Everyone who moves from this area says how they miss this town. I can see why. There are a lot of friendly people here. Especially the locals and merchants.

Back in the 60s and 70s this was the firehouse. I believe they are still putting out fires, just with a different liquid. Photo by Mike Hartley.

It’s funny that the attachment still feels so strong. There has been so much changing there. Businesses I’ve loved gone. Important people passed or moved on. And now with the flood mitigation, the look of the town will change yet again when some buildings come down.

You can find it all here. Photo by Mike Hartley

It can be a challenging town to walk. Sidewalks aren’t that wide at points. But do venture up and down the side streets also and up to the courthouse area. Hell explore the whole town.

Might have to go visit this store, we will be looking for area rugs soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess I’ve shot enough of this city for a while. I think I’ll venture to a new town in Howard County tomorrow.

Welcome center and mural. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing everyone a great Labor Day Monday. Be safe.

Get up and GO. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no such thing as a bad nap.
  • Nothing like good weather to lift the spirits.
  • Having come from a military family I find comments of Losers and Suckers so disturbing and offensive that he should be barred from any military installation and cemetery. If he goes to Arlington I’ll be meeting him to tell him he is the only Loser and Sucker on these grounds.
  • I’m recharged, I saw my children this weekend.
  • To all the teachers. If Tuesday is your first day back I urge you to treat yourself to a relaxing and enjoyable day on Monday.

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A special day

I got up yesterday thinking it was special. I think I’ll try to look at each day like that. Helps start off in a more positive light. I really should have an attitude that morning. Work woke me in the middle of the night on my day off. I didn’t sleep worth crap with back pain which seems like I was up every 30 minutes.

Soar above the chaos. Photo by Mike Hartley

But for some strange reason, I woke with optimism and spirit of getting some things done and enjoying the day a little bit. So I opened the shed early and pulled out the tools and tractor and spent the day in the yard.

So today a little fun and relaxing before heading back to work tomorrow. I see a beautiful day ahead today. I think I might even go for a ride and find and feel the breeze in my hair. I always wore a helmet during the decades I rode a bike even before it was mandatory. That is one thing I like with the convertible, no helmet needed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t need a gym. I have a house and a big yard. And if I feel like that workout isn’t enough I see if a friend needs help.
  • The President chastising someone for wearing a mask is setting a new standard for the word Dumbass. Then again that seems to be his mission each day.
  • When in doubt ask yourself what your parents would want you to do? Even if they aren’t here to answer they will get a message to you.
  • I don’t care if it’s not cool as an older man to wear my baseball cap backward. It saves sunburn on my neck.
  • Today is Derby Day. Get your mint julip on at home this year.
  • Tough times give you perspective so you can appreciate the good days correctly.

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Fresh start

Feeling out of sorts still. Shift work is getting to this old man but its the weekend so I’m looking for a fresh start. And the unusual thing is I actually have some time tonight to create but I’m exhausted. And being the evening looks like this to start we are holding down the fort this evening at home.

Now that was impressive. Almost like the sky opened up for that stroke. Photo by Mike Hartley

A good night’s sleep is also tempting being the eyelids are feeling a bit heavy. I got up way too early this morning and I’m feeling it now. I could easily stay up and work for several more hours. But maybe a good night’s rest and then an early start on Friday. That sounds like the plan.

I had a few minutes earlier and worked with some videos I had taken. It’s kind of inspired me to tinker around with that medium a bit more in the future. I also hope to do some woodwork this weekend. So many hopes and dreams. I’ve got to work harder to make them happen. I just have to devote the time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever notice how the battery in your smoke detector only goes bad at night and you have to get up and unplug it in your sleep to keep it from beeping?
  • The day’s success all depends on who you run into.
  • What a buffoon.
  • If I can waste time how come I can’t save time?
  • The last few months shows me how many different opinions there are on earth.

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Busting loose

I want to feel that energy, the kind that I used to feel seeing a favorite band in my youth with thousands of others just busting loose with all kinds of dance and imitations of musical instruments being played at a volume that reverberates through your entire body. People singing at the top of their lungs, grabbing my better half and giving her a passionate kiss.

I want that optimism like starting the first day of vacation. That excitement of loading up the car to go someplace, anyplace. The exhilaration of arriving at the destination. Maybe putting a long fishing pole in my hands and reeling in a sailfish.

I want a sailfish on the line. Photo by Mike Hartley

I want that feeling of stepping in a car with way too much horsepower and busting lose the rear tires to warm them up and then line up across from a friend with a hot car and head down Rt 29 in the middle of the night together. I’d love to have a Hurst shifter with the T handle grip in my right hand again.

Cruising. Photo by Mike Hartley

I want that feeling that a person has on the day they retire. To have that excitement of driving a new car off the lot. To have the happiness of holding your children for the first time. To jumping for joy that you landed the job you wanted.

Well, that was the way I was feeling on Monday. It’s Wednesday evening now and I think I’ll settle with laying in my hammock at bit on Thursday because I’m beat from the workweek. Maybe I’ll think about busting loose again on Friday when I catch my second wind.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Dancing with my granddaughter in my arms while the live version of Hotel California was on the TV, singing to her, and watching her smile as I twirled with her around my basement, told me she liked it almost as much as I did.
  • I’m always glad and sad to welcome a new month.
  • I’m not sure which is more difficult, taking care of older people or younger ones.
  • Just because people in power say its OK, doesn’t always mean its OK.

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Catch up

Nothing like rain yesterday to put the mind at rest and catch up on some sleep. Friday night was the first good night I had in several days. I was hoping to spend part of Saturday catching up more on some rest. That didn’t happen so we will shoot for today. I was getting very little sleep this week due to a number of things and it was catching up with me in many ways.

Afternoon showers bring light to some looking for it. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not of the age I can continue to do this. I was making some improvements but this past week I slid back to the old days where a few hours or missing a night’s sleep was the norm. So time to reset and start taking care of myself a bit more. Too many conflicting needs going on in life right now.

I blink my eyes and a new workweek is starting. I’ve got to get back to health and what works for me first. And that is my immediate family, friends and my work. When I retire hopefully I’ll have time for the rest of it.

I’d like to blog more this coming week. And that means I need to get shooting again. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day today. Maybe I’ll prioritize correctly and be able to grab a few shots around the county. So let me get moving. It’s a good thing I didn’t know it was National Beach Day till I got up this morning or I might have planned and taken off for it in the middle of the night. Nothing like a sunrise on the beach.

First toes in the sand and board in the water wins. Photo by MIke Hartley

Seems like everything has its own day now. But I kind of like National Beach Day because the beach is one of my favorite places. Maybe I’ll take a day trip down in late September. The water is still warm, the sun is still fairly high in the sky and the sand is still hot. Plus no crowds.

Lets all pitch together and keep the Beaches clean. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I wish I knew the switch to turn off my internal alarm clock.
  • Anyone who laments there isn’t anything to do in life isn’t living.
  • Some days I can just see more clearly. Those are usually the days I clean my glasses.
  • I feel a sense of urgency to make today a good day.

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Live and learn

I’m full of progress lately. It feels good and rewarding in itself. Taking joy from simple tasks and big ones alike. I’ve discovered late in life it’s about how you go at and interpret life. That can really change many things about the joy experienced and outlook forward. It also can help you deal with past and present issues more effectively.

Sailboat Jeopardy Photo by Mike Hartley

I should have taken some clues earlier in life from both personal and professional friends. But I have it now and I’m developing that more positive attitude and life is good.

Better late than never. No that isn’t my boat or chairs.

One of my best friends purchased a new home on the water. I couldn’t be happier for him and his better half. It looks like a beautiful place and I’m excited as hell about spending some time with him there. But my thoughts are consumed with the coming distance between us. It will be a big change, being we have always lived about 15-20 minutes away from each other. There was even a time when we lived together at my Mom’s house. Plus he lived in a home in the neighborhood I grew up in for the last 3-4 decades and it’s like going home when I see him. I sometimes take a cruise around the old hood before or after a visit. It’s going to be a change for me but I’ll adapt. One of my favorite phrases from one of my favorite movies Animal House is “Road Trip”. And I love to drive so there are no excuses.

Who knows, he might find me living in his garage.

I’m not sure if I want to go to the lakefront if I can’t go to Clydes.

Columbia lakefront. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I made good choices today so far so I’m going to go with the flow.
  • Some nights the mute button comes in real handy.
  • Each day now it seems like I see a story of a restaurant or small business I know going out of business for good. It breaks my heart because of the people. Both the owners, employees but also the community. There is too much of this already and it’s getting worse. Please think about supporting your local businesses. Amazon, Walmarts, and fast food places already have enough money.
  • Music link of the day – CSN Wasted on the Way

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Caring takes energy. It takes patience. It takes listening. It takes intuition. It takes drive and endurance. It takes dedication and answering a call.

Lots of people are called upon to care. Medical professionals are drawn to the care of others. Some parents are thrust into horrible situations with their children and rise to incredible levels of care and compassion. People care for animals by supporting rescues or doing them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

There is care for our older family members where the term caregiver comes up. There are simple cares like for the respect for the place you live in by not littering or someone caring to walk the local roads and pick up other’s trash.

There is care when fires and hurricanes devastate our states. There is care when blood supplies get low. There is care when you see someone stumble and fall. Many people care and come to the aid in auto accidents.

There are many brave people that step in at personal risk to protect those being abused. Many steps forward each day to work in the feeding of those who don’t have enough to eat.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are people cutting older Veterans yards. Many charitable organizations care. Many religious groups care. Well, at least the people working and contributing to them do. Many young people who care deeply and show it by defending the country.

There are so many acts of caring for each and every day that it gives the world hope. These are the acts that children should admire. These are acts that should inspire more acts.

Now there is a formation. Photo by Mike Hartley

I say this because even though I think and try hard to care about a number of people, issues and causes I know I can do better. The need is getting larger and will need all our help. So self-examination time to see what I can do better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I see KFC has dropped its “Finger Licking Good” slogan in the age of COVID. What, don’t people wash their hands before they eat? Well if its no longer Finger Licking Good I’m not interested.
  • I could look at clouds all day. Well maybe with some music.
  • There seems to be no shortage of people that will leave you shaking your head.
  • If someone has an idea of how to steer those hurricanes towards those fires speak up now?

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Sun, steak an salmon

The tan got a boost from the outdoor work Sunday. Feels good to get that exercise. Grilled up a steak and a nice piece of salmon for dinner. My mother-in-law liked it so victory was had. And the sun lasted till I had finished grilling which was great because that was a nice thunderstorm that rolled through afterward.

Off the bench. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another end to the weekend. What a bummer. And almost the end of a strange summer. That is somewhat depressing, but there is still a lot of nice weather to enjoy.

I’m going to have to work on some planning for the winter season. My better half and I talked yesterday about getting the upstairs fireplace fixed so we can use that this year. That will keep me busy chopping some wood. It’s not like I’m going to run it to heat the house even though it does have a wood-burning insert with it that will run you out of the room and heat the upstairs fairly well.

But I also need a plan to stay mentally fresh during what always is a stressful and somewhat depressing time of year for me. On the good side, I won’t have to worry about commuting in bad weather so that takes a lot off the plate. But that also depends on being extended to work from home after the new year.

Whatever the case, I’ll make the best of it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I were to pick a week without TV this would be it.
  • But then again, I’m really enjoying the NBA playoffs. I’ve got to get my hoop fix now because the fall is looking suspect for colleges.
  • I’m working on my photo site again and that feels great.
  • Pick projects to work on that make you smile.

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I’m trying to find a balance between living and blogging. I really like blogging, I try each day and I try hard to keep to that schedule but life intercedes at times. Lots of times actually. I’m used to having only a few minutes to pull a post together and maybe edit a recent photo or find an old one that matches my thought train that day.

Cumberland Station Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s not like the days I don’t post something that I don’t sit down to write or take photos or work on something. Some of those are saved as drafts because it may be an idea that isn’t developed and I hope to return to it. Or like many, a quick start and then an interruption. And I’m sure more than a few that suck and I need to trash.

More often than not my post isn’t well thought out or planned. Rarely do I get any dedicated time for this. I either get up early or more often stay up late tinkering away. I have no list of topics or people to collaborate with. I sit down often with no conceived/idea plan and just start writing or editing photos I’ve taken. A lot of days a photo will spur a thought. Sometimes it’s an article or news segment I’ve seen earlier in the day. Sometimes it’s an experience I’ve had that day.

One of the nice views going to Western Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I only take a short amount of time each day for this I feel at times I’m being selfish and should be doing something for my family, friends, or someone in need. Maybe fixing something on the house or cars or just resting which I don’t get enough of.

The nice thing is that even though this might add to the lack of sleep, it does seem to reduce my stress level because its something I enjoy. Maybe because I’m challenging myself a little again.

Blogging has turned into a bit of a passion. I’m trying to get a good start on a base to build on when I retire from the job that pays the bills. It’s a passion that keeps me inspired to work on my arts. And who knows, with a little more time I’ll knock out something a little more worthwhile.

In yesterday’s random thoughts I put down that I miss seeing school busses on the road. That was in no means an endorsement that I think kids need to be in school now, at least in this area. I was just lamenting the beauty of kids getting on and off busses each day. Of course, it does save me the blinding RAGE I feel when I see someone blowing by a bus with its red flashing lights and stop signs extended.

I saw some very old friends yesterday at a zoom meeting. It was great and I can’t wait to see them again. A few were absent but it was still uplifting. And I also gathered with my two best friends Thursday night. Having these and strong family ties and communication has gotten me through these recent months. I think I’ll reach out to a few people who I know live alone and don’t get out and communicate that much.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s a top-down kind of day. Till the thunderstorms roll through.
  • Wooden Ships by CSN is a great song. Here’s a live clip from 1977
  • Having a long “to-do list” is not a bad thing.
  • I try to make a habit of listening to “Tuesdays Gone” just before midnight on Tuesday nights.
  • It’s all over but the voting.
  • I’m nervous about visiting the doctors again but for a completely different reason than in the past.

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In the flow

I feel like I’m in a good flow of both mental and physical health right now. Oh, there is a ton of things I can improve on. My diet and exercise to name a few. Yeah, I got aches and pains, that’s what older people get. I’m cancer-free and no other major issues to my knowledge. So I’m appreciating and loving each day I’m up and about.

A wave with a smile. Photo by Mike Hartley

That love and appreciation for each day seem like a simple thing but it’s hard to pull off from my life experience. I had to learn to be happy with myself and its taken a lifetime. I’ve had to learn to not let others control my emotions. I’ve had to learn to balance the various facets of professional, personal, and social life. I’ve had to learn how to prioritize and do the best I can and be happy with that effort. I’ve been my own worst enemy at times. I’ve been afraid of failure and I let that rule out opportunities. I let my mistakes stop me when I was taking chances and learning.

Steps to Where? Photo by Mike Hartley

Life is learning and adapting. Life is about appreciation and laughter. Each day is a blank slate to do as you will. Yes, things will affect that path but you also have control of directions, time, and being able to enjoy the journey.

So today my flow took me to the lawnmower. I know you didn’t see that coming. The mower is a wonderful place to think. I’m not sure if it’s the endorphins from the exercise or just the drone of the motor and letting my mind wander. I guess that is one benefit of having a good-sized yard. You get a couple of hours of uninterrupted thought.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope my kids know I think about them every day. Lots of times per day.
  • Don’t you hate it when it rains all weekend and the reward for that is having to cut the yard during the workweek?
  • In normal times living near a college must be cool.
  • You don’t need a metal detector to find treasure.

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Sunny disposition

I’m trying to think more positively and share a better attitude. Hard thing to accomplish as a realist at times but I’m improving. I’m giving it the old college try. So I changed up my Monday a bit. I didn’t get proper rest to start off with so I’m conscious of being touchy so I’m not stressing and trying to do too much.

Sunset on the bay behind Ocean City Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m also limiting the news input today and I’m going to enjoy watching some NBA action. My guess is this might be one of the few leagues to finish a season and playoffs so I’m not going to miss this. Sorry, that was my pragmatic side seeping out.

I’m saddened to see schools at the K-12 and some colleges already struggling with the virus. That doesn’t bode well for the fall sports seasons that haven’t been canceled already. I would have hoped our communication and planning would have been better in the few re-openings that have happened.

It’s going to be an interesting fall season. I hope that we all can have the patience and civility needed to get through the rest of this year. Somehow I don’t think watching the leaves turn is going to be an adequate substitute for football for some people.

Route 40 looking west in the fall. Nothing better than the next 40 miles of asphalt. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When I give someone a photo I’ve taken I give them something to remember me by even though its not of me.
  • It’s funny watching baseball games without fans. But then I think of a couple of fellow Yankee fans and I can still see us all reacting to each highlight with the same joy and fervor as we always had. Maybe if we are lucky we can get back to the real joy of the game at the stadiums next year.
  • Each day it gets easier to tell who the selfish people are.
  • Taking time to do something well is worth its weight in gold.

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Room and Board

Saw this picture of what looked like paddleboard school standing in front of a string of condos in the background inspired today’s title. But also the thought of many people being evicted in the coming days and months is also strongly on my mind.

Room and board. Paddleboard meeting on the water. Photo by Mike Hartley

Kind of ironic that the next song I heard was Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones. I’m afraid I might have a friend soon without a home. That is a long and twisted tale but homeless is homeless. It might not be long until we all know someone.

Ah, what to do about that and many other ills of the world. Those storms that rolled through Iowa and flattened everything in sight. Many days later still tens of thousands without power. I’ve been through that a few times and it’s not pretty.

So I think I’ll make a donation to the Red Cross towards that tomorrow morning. In addition this week I also have to do something to help someone personally. Be it a stranger or a friend. Being separated sometimes takes those opportunities away and hide them from you. But they are out there.

Stillness. Photo by Mike Hartley
Motion. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How many older musicians might we never see live again because of the virus closing things down?
  • Seeing my children can sometimes balance out all the other stresses in life because it is so calming and inspiring for me.
  • Coming back to work after vacation is a tough task.

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Saturday salutations

Even a rainy Saturday morning is nice. Any morning I wake up is nice. It was an early and painful morning but I’m alive and kicking and not sick. The body is just showing some age.

Even though the weekend looks like the sun could be MIA we can supply our own with pictures and a sunny attitude.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s been a good while since really changing up my office and workroom but I think its time. And I’ve enlisted the ruthless help of my better half. An expert at purging. I’m an expert in hoarding. Well not as bad as most but still on that side of the fence.

No this isn’t my office. But it does have some resemblance in spots. Actually this office was someones who was very smart and proficient in his work to almost a brilliant status. So a sloppy office doesn’t always equate to a sloppy mind.

Actually my cleaning is part wall makeover and opening it up by removing a desk. I’m going to take down a least one wall of photos I just have tacked up and put some good ones in frames for a nicer look.

Feels good taking care of things under my control. We really made some progress around the house during my week off from the job that pays the bills.

Caregiver mode engaged. My Mother-in-law returned to stay with us for a bit again and I’m glad to have her. Luckily she has enough family to keep her while this virus passes before she returns to assisted living. I can’t imagine the pain that is causing families not being able to see, hug, and kiss loved ones. Not to mention the worry about them at senior facilities.

The routine becomes a bit different and I have to put on a shirt again but I can cope. Plus its convention weeks ahead so I’ll be real busy at work for a good bit.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you can’t deliver the mail, you can’t be president.
  • Though we have had a few month’s practices, it’s going to be a strange fall and winter.
  • Remember when feeling your age used to be a good thing?
  • Now I know why my Mom had so many magnifying glasses around the house.
  • My posting average this week sucked. I vow to do better this coming week
  • In some ways, it feels like a normal year. Wildfire and hurricane seasons are in full swing.
  • Are you an email packrat?
  • I think the greatest shock in the last 6 months to most people is how fragile everything is. From healthcare and childcare to food to income.

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Hump day observations

Don’t you miss being part of a huge crowd at a concert with everyone moving in rhythm to the music and singing in unison together?

I miss seeing people smile. But then again I don’t miss all the people with snarls on their faces.

Boardwalk expressions. Photo by Mike Hartley

I miss feeling comfortable around people.

Does music seem more important now?

Memories keep drawing us back to dangerous behavior.

I suggest taking all the empty shopping malls and turn them into schools.

I saw some leaves falling today. I almost screamed NOOOOO. It’s far too early for fall.

Duchess Sandwich Shop

Sweet simple and satisfying. We went to this EC mainstay for a quick snack today being we put off our day trip to the Antinum battlefield. We got two sandwiches, a birch beer, and a chocolate shake. Oh yeah, a bag of chips all for under $15. Took it down to the parking lot B behind the building we started a business many years ago and looked over the river and had lunch with the top down. I sucked down the shake before I had a chance to take a picture of it.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I read from WJZ that the Annapolis Capital Gazette is closing its offices. They will continue to publish it says. I wonder what fate awaits me, back to the office, or work from home next year.
  • I’m very sorry to see the Maryland fall sports postponed/canceled this year but I believe it was the right decision for the safety of the kids and community.
  • I’m so tired today.

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Nice start to the week

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

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

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

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

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

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

The way to get around town. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roadside Theater. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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And here I thought I was going to have some time to play with my hobbies. I was just kidding myself with the projects we have going and just the overdue maintenance needed on the homestead. I’m finally getting the siding cleaned. I haven’t had the big ladder out in a while. So long that a bird had a chance to build a nest on it.

I still had time to grab a shot or two of visitors to my back yard. It was my favorite family again. Mom, Dad and young-in. Photo by Mike Hartley

But the result yesterday is that I feel good about the work accomplished because it shows some tangible results. For instance, we decided to take up some carpet we have had down forever in the living room and hall. Not that it was bad, my better half just wanted to go back to the hardwood floors underneath the carpet.

Even a simple task like that is a lot of work but the floors below do change the look of the house. They will really look nice when sanded and sealed again. But as I told her I really don’t like it because I can’t sneak up on her anymore with the quietness of the carpet gone. It’s like taking the high grass away from a hunting cheetah.

Dad is always aware of me first. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today was more chores like grass cutting and some more work on the recently exposed floors. I tried my hand at cooking some stuffed pork chops with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and mozzarella cheese. They were good.

Like yesterday I’ll pick up the camera and try to capture something to use here. Like this crew below, totally devoid of social distancing and no mask in view except for that white mask in the middle.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Doing battle with Mother Nature. She is a formidable foe. But I have a full 5-gallon tank of gas for the mower and another gallon for the string trimmer. I ran out last week and she laughed at me. I had to retreat unfinished in defeat.

I know my family doesn’t like it but I like doing some physical work outside during the summer. I take more breaks to appease them but I’ve discovered I also need them especially on hot days. So I’ll try to be smart with their assistance and guidance but still get the exercise. Because these tasks are also rewarding when things look good after the effort.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s shark week.
  • The wasp thought they were slick with their latest nest. Now they are slick with Raid.
  • Think about how special friendships will feel when you can hug that person again and get together and totally relax. You know, what we once used to do on a regular basis.

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Doing OK Today

Never wait to say what is in your heart.

I may be the luckiest man on earth for the wonders I’ve been given.

Get it together, help others get it together, help them help others get it together.

To my better half. I’m sorry I haven’t provided all the joys of life you so richly deserve.

I’m sorry if anyone feels I haven’t been there for them.

Time to relieve the pain.

I was catching up on some reading of events while I was on vacation a few weeks ago and read that Fernand G.M. Tersiguel passed. I can’t say I was a frequent diner but when I did it was a great meal and his smile and staff made it a great evening. Ellicott City will miss him.

Fernand Tersiguel standing outside his establishment. Photo by Mike Hartley

Good thing you guys don’t rely on me for breaking news.

There are few things as satisfying as a cold Coke in a Bottle. Especially after working outside in the 90-degree heat. I don’t know what it is about a bottled Coke but it is different. Maybe just colder, I don’t know but its better. I’ll go to Google it later. I’m sure there is an opinion or an actual reason.

So why don’t I buy it in bottles? I have no answer. I got a bottled 4 pack from my Son as a gift recently and I save them like a vintage wine. It’s almost ceremonial. When I have one, that is what I do for the next 10 minutes. I don’t open it and walk away, I don’t get up and go to my desk with it and sit it next to the warm computer. I kick back on the couch and sit it on the glass table in front of me. I lean forward and take a sip. Of course, that is followed by a belch and I lean back. This act is repeated like that plastic bird that would bend over and dip its beak in water and then bounce back to an upright position. Life’s simple pleasures. Well, back outside to work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I believe basic practical skills will once again be in great demand.
  • Time for a random donation today.
  • I’m conflicted. I’m beginning to like my hair long again but it’s not too popular with my better half.
  • If at any point in your life you discover how blessed you are no matter your circumstances, and you are able to just feel thankfulness, is the day you are alive and at peace. I don’t mean this in the religious or spiritual sense but just in life.

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Pizza Speed

Looks like Domino’s has a variety of delivery modes. I just happened to see these two on the same day on the same street in Ocean City. To each their own.

Fast – Photo by Mike Hartley
Slow but steady – Photo by Mike Hartley

Sort of like life yesterday. I wanted to get a strong start but slow and steady was the call of the day. You have to adjust and go with the flow at times. Work is taking a toll on me this week for some reason. I seem to have nothing left in the tank after 10+ hours.

I was saddened to hear of an old friend from my youth passing. A more common occurrence as we progress in years. A good reminder to appreciate today and take advantage of any and all opportunities.

I seem to be getting a lot of reminders like that. So I guess I better get busy and make something worthwhile for my family and friends.

This is going to be a different type of weekend. I have some great ideas to work on.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m surprised and not that the Sturgis rally is going on this year.
  • Loving hugs are in short supply. It’s like they all have been put in storage. I can’t wait for the day they unlock them.
  • It seems like a lot of people go missing.
  • No county fair. No state fair. No fair.

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Calm before the storm

When I heard 3-6 inches of rain was coming I had to get the cameras out because I love shooting water. Seeing the first few drops on the picnic table and hearing the thunder in the distance has my antenna up. I think I’ll venture out in the morning early for some images in the area. I would go out this evening but work is on the agenda.

The nice scene within walking distance of my front door. HoCo Conservancy. Well, a bit of a walk. Photo by Mike Hartley

Brought the wind chimes in instead of listening to the pound against the house tonight. Also secured a few other things. Just realized its been a while in having to do this. That was a really nice stretch of weather we had.

Trying to look on the bright side as much as possible. And when I can’t find that I try to look for the humor in life. And when I can’t find a laugh I sigh and say I’ve had a lot of good days and I’m thankful.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is a trip, but we’re all on a separate tour though.
  • To find the good in some people you just have to scratch the surface most of the time. There are those hard cases though that you better have brought your pick and shovel.
  • Not enough sleep takes a much higher toll now.
  • If you don’t like the opportunities provided, create some of your own.

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Ready Set Rock

Really excited to get off to a good start in August. And I’m feeling like it’s going to be a good month. Yes, it’s the toughest part of the year to spend time inside at the computer. It used to be at the enlarger and trays. I have to admit it was nice learning the old way of developing film and making prints. Watching masters dodge and burn with their hands or other hand made tools.

Photo editing even when you have minimal tools like myself is still part of a good shot. And it can be time-consuming. Be it a simple crop or radical adjustment. I really should learn more about this part and get some better tools in the future. I used to let excuses like that stop me but no longer. I do what I can with what I have and I love it.

Agent 004 – Stealth Skateboarder in OC – Photo by Mike Hartley

When I get nervous about what to create I don’t. When I have my confidence and just roll with the flow I am so much happier. Yeah it isn’t the best and if I took more time and energy it could be better, but that delay might prevent it from ever taking any shape and being shared.

The question is how to best manage me, and the time I have. There are so many wishes I have for the future. I just need to keep working hard at them each day. But I also need to cut some things out now that are time saps. Things like being smart about the TV. Recording stuff and then FF through commercials cutting viewing time. That works really well in sports like baseball.

Grab for that sliver of light each day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I also can reduce my news intake a bit and still be well informed. Just because I work in the industry doesn’t mean I have to OD on it. I’ve got to resume multitasking more. Making use of those few minutes between cooking or just getting moving earlier in the morning.

Regardless I’m getting back to the things I want to do more. I know, less talk, more action. And more pictures.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Started the day in pain, ending the day in pain. But everything in between was fine with me.
  • I’m missing smiles and hugs.
  • Some people never fail to disappoint. At least they are consistent.
  • Seashells give me good feelings.
  • Lots of rain coming they say. That always raises a few eyebrows given our water issues here in the best county in the state of MD.
  • Hey Jared K., you were right, July just ended and we’re really rocking now. And one day when you ask “why me” the answer will be Karma baby.

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Mid Season pause

I define summer as June through September. So being the last day of July I have reached the midpoint of my favorite season. I’ve used a little vacation and I have a little more to use this Aug/Sept. Both excitement and anticipation lie ahead for the remainder of the season. But I seemed to have blinked and the first two months were gone.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Seems to always work that way for summer, while winter will drag out with each week feeling like a month. So I better get busy soaking up the warm rays and tooling around with the top down. Maybe another day trip or two around the state.

It’s kind of a weird year but were all learning to adapt. Spent some time today being tested for the first time for the virus. We want to make sure we haven’t picked up anything before we bring my mother-in-law back for several weeks.

An interesting test, feels like a brain swab. I was encouraged when the guy says you got the look, you got it right. I guess the look is when you blink your eyes rapidly and shake your head a bit after pulling a tree branch with some cotton on the other end out from your cranium. But of all the medical tests I’ve had that is a piece of cake, even though I may have removed a few brain cells by accident.

I’m going to have to do a mindset reset. I’ve gotten a bit lax and I’m out and about too much. It’s time to start hunkering down at home again and when I do go out be smart about when I do.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tonight I sleep. Well, that is the intention.
  • I like it when the grass is so wet that I’m not even tempted to get the mowers out.
  • Not every day is a day at the beach.
  • Trends create disturbing graphs.
  • I can see by the boardwalk cams that the face-covering requirement is not being taken seriously. I would estimate that the percentage of folks wearing them might have moved to 50%. That is a big jump but not enough folks.

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Can you see the real me

Sometimes combinations in life come along. I turned on the tunes and the first one that came on as I started to select a photo to edit was “The Real Me” by The Who. And the first photo I looked at was this one.

Before Sunrise. Photo by Mike Hartley

And the line in the song “can you see the real me, doctor” is interesting. One of my nicknames is “Doctor”. And I spent some time looking inside me lately. And it’s just as foggy as this picture. Sitting on that chair on the beach waiting for the sun to rise and the morning fog to burn away. I can almost see myself through the camera in that chair on the left side of the photo. I feel like I spent a lot of my youth in this picture.

Some of my days stay dark and cloudy. Far less than before thankfully. And I try to have more control where I determine that it’s going to be a good day. But I still have periods of dark or clouded thought. But as I think more positively the sun seems to burn off some of that darkness more and more each day.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And then I remember that I’m so thankful to be alive and kicking. To have the opportunities that I do. To have the chance to love some more. To laugh and cry and be overwhelmed with joy.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to spread my wings as many times as possible. I’m going to ride the waves. I’m going to go with the flow and buck it at the same time. And maybe see if I can leave this a better place for my children and theirs.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The smile and joy of a toddler are heartwarming.
  • The Yankees beat the O’s again. And all is right with the world for a split second and then I leave fantasyland.
  • I suggest people go out and look at a few bio’s each day of the people, young and old, and in between that died that day of the virus. And continue to do it while people are dying in large numbers to remind yourself of the seriousness of these times. Then be thankful you don’t know any of them and that this hasn’t touched your family that way. Take the time to pause for a minute for those it has touched and be thankful it has stayed away from you. Then do something to make it safer for yourself and someone else.

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Got a couple of important lessons from my kids recently. I’m so glad they are already wiser than me. They taught me both the importance of staying motivated but mixing in some fun.

The other lesson and one really important to me is having a balance on the number of serious things going on all around us but also thinking about what is in our control and not letting those things overwhelm me and deplete my health.

So I thank them both for the helpful reminders on how to enjoy life and live long. They keep showing the benefits of having children.

So tomorrow is National Wing Day. Looks like I’ll have to go out and get some.

Boneless Teriyaki are one of my favorites. Photo by Mike Hartley

I could barely get the viewfinder to my eye because I started to laugh before I even snapped the shot of these two young ladies taking a selfie in front of a dumpster while waiting for their order at Belly Busters in OC.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some days you spend trying to find yourself. Other days it’s your keys.
  • Work hasn’t ruined my vacation vibe yet. Not that they aren’t trying, I’m just resisting well.
  • When I’m relaxed, life flows better.
  • By the way, its only a matter of time before people are shooting from car to car or just using their car as the weapon. There is some wild stuff going on out on the highways.
  • I didn’t do any new shooting today but I did charge the batteries and made some prints and uploaded some videos. So it wasn’t a total loss. I’ll do better tomorrow.

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I was out this morning early de-beaching my better half’s SUV. I wondered to myself if everyone vacuumed their car when they got back and if we saved all that sand and returned it to the beach if we could widen it more than it is?

I enjoy detailing a car. Getting it to look like new again. Or as close as possible depending on the age. And as I learned this weekend even with a lot of age they can look pretty good. Not by my hand but some collectors, I saw out in front of Wrights Market off Rt 50 outside Salsbury.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s so tempting to invest in an old piece of history and tool around in it till I can no longer drive well. Ah if I only have the years to live that dream. What I found interesting in people who own these masterpieces is they don’t drive them much. Yeah, they are nice to look at but you might as well enjoy it and let the wheels turn at the same time.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I’m feeling successful today. Spoke to many close people that I hadn’t talked to in a while. I’m busy at work again professionally and personally. I prioritized well today. And had a little fun. I even exercised a bit. Yeah I know, you don’t believe me.

This family strolled through my back yard this afternoon after feasting. Photo by Mike Hartley

At least I’m back in the habit of picking up the cameras each day again. Now is the challenge to keep it going while working again. The deer shot is from today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • First weekend into the MLB season and teams canceling games because of the virus. Who would have thunk it?
  • And in the continued path of sports, I find it funny and sad to think there will be any football this fall.
  • And colleges opening and closing will be the norm.
  • Oh yeah, the reason for this was in a wonderful quote by a comedian many years back. “You can’t fix stupid,” says Ron White. This might turn out to be one of the most underrated statements of all time.
  • On the good side today, I was able to do a lot of weeding by hand and not have back issues.

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Home again

Sorry about the 2-day hiatus. Was spending quality time with family and driving home from the beach. Getting settled in at the homestead again is nice. And even though I need a new mattress its miles better than the one I was sleeping in the last few days.

As the sun sets on our vacation I’m overwhelmed with great feelings on how special it is to spend time with your children and grandchildren. To have time to talk, enjoy a meal, to say good morning, To just sit and appreciate each other on the balcony or beach. To laugh and remember together.

The coast of Maryland and Delaware draw me like few other things. Photo by Mike Hartley

And while it was a different type of vacation, it was still a wonderful experience that I’ll tuck away in my mind and heart for the rest of my life.

Time to think. Vacation always provides me that ability which is pushed to the side during the normal weeks of the year. Work, chores, caregiving, and other things. But to sit on a balcony enjoying a breeze or with your toes in the sand, hat over face while soaking up some rays and listening to the waves on the beach. That is time for the mind, be it with eyes open or eyes shut. The mind gets computing cycles to sort things out.

Time to focus on what is important. Time to take in the events and how to adapt for the future. Time to think about what is important and prioritize. Time to take a breath and listen to your body. Time to watch an approaching thunderstorm in the distance. Time to appreciate the smells of the beach from food being prepared from restaurants, suntan lotion, or the salt air.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love coming home with a tan and having not burned while at the beach.
  • Maybe instead of waiting for great leadership, maybe we could all step it up a bit ourselves.
  • My birthday isn’t important. Getting to celebrate my children’s birthdays each year is the milestone I look forward to.

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Thankful day again

I’m thankful that both of my daughters who are teachers will be doing it remotely this first semester. They teach in different counties in the great state of Maryland. I was very concerned a few weeks ago when federal pressure was being applied for the return to students in schools again. Just like the economy, schools won’t return to normal until the virus is under control.

Sort of like our future, there is sun behind the storm. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m thankful that a general election is coming up. I hope the events have at least inspired people to vote. Personally I’ve never failed to vote in any election. I think this right is taken for granted by far to many. The more people that vote makes us a stronger nation.

I’m thankful that I have a loving family. I don’t take that for granted because I see so many families not having that luxury. And that is a real shame because if we can’t solve problems and issues within families we will have problems solving other issues as well outside them.

I’m thankful that I feel appreciation for so many things. That means I have a wealth that isn’t measured in money. I’m thankful to have the insight to not worship money, greed and to have a sharing bone in my body for those less fortunate.

I’m thankful for having finally gotten a balance on my work and personal life. Yes, it took me several decades to get there but at least I’m there and happy that I’ve had a few years to appreciate it.

I’m thankful that I can take the time and keep searching for truths and not lazy to just accept one or two opinions or follow people blindly because of their position.

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to develop an appreciation for the environment I live in. I try not to be wasteful. I try to respect the world I live in. I try to conserve resources.

I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and food to eat each day. I’m thankful for my health.

I’m glad I continue to think of things I’m thankful for as I go through each day in life. It’s a lot better than worrying about things I don’t have or desiring things I don’t even need. It’s good to just stop and be satisfied with all I do have.

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Time is sweet

Watching a young child grow is one of the special things in life. To see them discover and develop each day is a joy. Their innocence is delightful. Their wonder and discovery of things is a marvel to watch.

To see them figuring things out on there own is inspiring. That investigative look in their eyes. Or watching actions of those around them and quickly adapting them.

There outstretched arms towards you wanting to be lifted to the heights they can’t get to yet. The emotions of happiness and sadness that are so sudden and genuine.

The love of their hugs is so warming. The insistence of their pointing to what they want. The excitement and speed of their gate when they have first learned to walk and on a mission to get to the next destination. The surprise and shock when they fall.

My own children gave me these gifts and now my granddaughter is giving me them again. I’m one happy grandfather and father.

Those were some storms that rolled through today. I haven’t seen clouds move like that in some time.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m very glad I never spent time joining or reading anything on Twitter.
  • Few elected leaders are really leading. I think we need to remove them from their safety bubble so they can learn what the rest of us are feeling.
  • Missions become more important when time is limited.