IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.


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WATCHING WALLENDA

Nik Wallenda.

What can you say about him? The guy is insane. He’s nuts. He has a death wish. He is extremely talented, And focused. And driven.

Nik Wallenda is amazing.

My knees knock on an extension ladder more than a story high. They say, “Don’t look down!” I look down and worry about falling and breaking something. What does that say about Wallenda? (What does it say about me?)

To be so sure that’s what you want to do when you grow up is commendable. To achieve your dream is a gift from somewhere way North of the horizon. It’s no wonder Nik Wallenda is so successful at what he does. He’s the seventh generation in the “Family Business”. And he walks with Jesus.

Now this isn’t a religious diatribe. It’s just that from his first step over the gorge that is as deep as the Empire State Building is tall, Wallenda was thankful for every new step forward he was “allowed” to take. And if he were going down, he’d go down with his prayer in his heart. But, Nik Wallenda was held aloft. As you watched (if you watched) his incredible feat, you noticed something. After a while, the high wire disappeared. It blended into the grandeur of the Grand Canyon’s magnificence. And there he was, the Great Karl Wallenda’s great-grandson suspended in mid air walking with the most spectacular view in the house.

Nik

Photo credit: AP

It laughs in the face of the old joke, “Why does Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon (and last year, Niagara Falls)?” It’s obvious. To get to the other side (which was the side this whole trek started on before helicopter whisked him to the starting point!)

Every ending is a beginning, after all!


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IN CELEBRATION OF FATHERS

Let’s see… I have two Martins, two Walters, two Josephs, a James, a Richard and a John. I celebrate them all today.

The “Martins” are the anglicized versions of the Polish, Marcin (both Great-Grandfathers – Marcin Wojtanik and Marcin Kura).

The succession of Walters ends with me; Walter Francis (Grandfather) and Walter Edwin (Father) broke the name in; I just added some flair.

One Joseph (Great-Grandfather, Josef Jakubowski – Paternal Grandmother’s father) lived well into his nineties (as did many of his progeny). One daughter, Theresa (a Felician Nun – S.M. Consolata) lived days shy of her 100th birthday.

Joseph (Jozef) Kura was my mother’s father. He was my mentor and role model, having spent many hours together in my formative years. A naturalized Polish immigrant, I didn’t know a day without his influence until the day he passed in September of 1974.

James (Maciej) Wasiela was my other Great-Grandfather, (my mother’s, mother’s father). Richard Wojtanik was my Godfather (Dad’s brother) and John Burkowski, my Father-in-law, is the only living celebrant – he is of a diminished capacity in the throes of Parkinson’s and Dementia, but still holding onto this precious life.

Congratulations to my brothers as well: Paul, Tim, Ken (Wojtanik) and Brother-in-law Ray Sahr for carrying on the “tradition”. Happy Father’s Day to every last one!


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… SAMUEL CLEMENS (MARK TWAIN)

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Mark Twain lived in Buffalo from 1869-1871. This is significant in that it shaped him as a writer and as a person.

His time in Buffalo was the longest period that Twain had lived in one place since early childhood. Buffalo was the first place he lived as a married man, the birthplace of his first child, the first place he owned a home (truth here is his new bride and father-in-law conspired to buy the house, a luxury that a fledgling newspaper man could not easily afford) and the first place that he became co-owner of a newspaper. Buffalo was a place of many “firsts” in Samuel Clemens life.

Though a time of great productivity for Twain, it was also a period of his greatest tragedies. His father-in-law died from cancer and his wife Olivia (Livvy) from Typhoid. His son Langdon died tragically early in his life as well.

There is a collection of his writings from this traumatic period, entitled Mark Twain at The Buffalo Express: Articles and Sketches by America’s Favorite Humorist (Northern Illinois University Press; 1999).

Mark Twain honed his writing acumen in Buffalo during his time as the editor of The Buffalo Express newspaper, (he often collaborated on articles and columns with  Joseph Larned, his co-editor and friend).

For more on Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) click here.

 


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RAISE THE FLAG

It’s my father’s flag. It flew in our yard for years and when he passed and it was lower for the last time, was the final statement of his life.

But now, I have his flag. A corner is a bit tattered, and my intention is to have it repaired and preserved. A noble gesture to some. A frustration for me in that I don’t want to fly it without. Plus, I can’t remember where I had put it since last year.

Picture 094So on this Flag Day, I needed to get a new flag. It’s still the standard under which we live and I love the idea and principals behind it. So I bought a new one, pretty much assuring I will find my father’s flag.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?

Who knew I’d be quoting “Big Yellow Taxi” on Flag Day?


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WTF, PEOPLE?

WTF!

I’ll make a broad leap here and assume that you learned something in Driver’s Education. I could be wrong, and you’ve taken every opportunity to prove me so. A refresher course is in order.

It’s red. It has eight sides (I won’t confuse the morons amongst you by calling it an “Octagon”). Big bright white letters (four of them, as a matter of fact. I know you know all about four-letter words) that spell out the word S-T-O-P. Stop! As in “Do not go”. I don’t give a rat’s ass if there’s no one coming or in the intersection. I don’t care what time of the night (or early morning) it is . If the f-ing sign is red, and the f-ing sign has eight sides (an Octagon, very good class) and the f-ing sign says stop, then you FUCKING STOP!

You don’t reduce speed and cruise through, you STOP! Don’t look at me approaching WITH THE RIGHT OF WAY and stare me down until the last possible second and still proceed to pull out in front of me, You STOP.

This isn’t meant to be a race to the next sign you totally ignore. It isn’t supposed to be a race at all. What are you saving? Three seconds of your precious life that could have been spent…what? Flipping off the guy you almost killed because he had the audacity to be on the road when you were cruising the boulevard for God knows what.

So I have become “that” guy. The guy that comes to a complete stop and looks in all directions before even remembering I have a gas pedal. Yes, I’m holding you up and maybe saving your life. I’m the guy that drives the speed limit because I know idiots like you are in a hurry. Yes, I’m the guy slowing you down and possibly saving my own life. With all the modern time-saving devices nowadays, there still seems to never be enough time that we have to rush all over ignoring traffic signs, or other drivers, or pedestrians (those are the people that are walking, morons). Life is not a game of Grand Theft Auto or Fast and Furious. Once they’re dead, mangled or injured, they stay that way!

For two straight days I have had near-misses with the same driver no less, blowing through his red light as I start to advance into my green arrow indicated left turn. Who needs rules! I guess they think they have the “right” to drive with reckless abandon. But, there’s a funny thing about “rights”. Yours end when they infringe on my right to stay alive.

And one more thing (now that you revved my engine). Since when has every driver suddenly become a mathematician? I know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But the sprint diagonally across a parking lot is as brainless as the aforementioned rant on the sign. (The red one. Eight-sides, S-T-…).

And these are the wide-awake and sober drivers! I won’t even attempt to open THAT can of worms at the moment.

WTF, people?


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TRYING TO CUT THE MUSTARD PLAYING CATCH-UP

I’m a poet mostly. I dabble in musical composition and short fiction. Screenplays and scripts for stage become the rage on occasion. And juggling all those balls is an eventual losing proposition.

Getting the word out (or multitude of words out) is akin to reaching into the haystack without a glove. Sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck. And on more than one happenstance. Chances are you fall far enough behind that you give up the ghost and recoup, starting somewhere in the middle.

So I fiddle around with my muse, choosing to saturate my poetry places with pieces of verse and curse the day I discovered like sounding words. Time constraints (and those of a more physical nature) have handcuffed me somewhat, keeping the glut of work I am apt to pen to a manageable minimum.

As of this moment, I think I am at par with the rest of the jackbooted poets, at least on the sites I have chosen to frequent. Keeping up with the Jones and Whitmans and Wordsworths takes some effort. I relish the opportunity, cutting the mustard playing catch-up and being dog tired.

I think it’s lunch time. I just made myself hungry!


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RETROGRADE

Screw George Jetson!

His space aged flying sportsters are still a pipe dream (although it seems we’ve pretty much nailed Jet Screamer on the wall sized television sets!) The move forward keeps taking steps backward.

When I was a kid with visions of having my license, I saw a Mustang, or Camaro, or a Challenger or Charger in my future. Rather myopic, agreed! But I was a kid. Give me a freakin’ break. And before I could realize owning any one of these, they disappeared from sight (or had gotten ugly enough to not even be considered.) I mean really, who the hell envisioned a Dodge Charger as a luxury car Cordoba wannabe. Fine Corinthian leather, my ass!

So on my drive in to work this morning, in my reliable and roomy family car (a gas guzzling S.U.V., you tree hugging bastards!) I noticed I was in a string of cars that included of all things a retro-Mustang, a revamped Camaro, and awesome looking Charger and a reincarnation of the old Dodge Dart. Four-for-six, an awesome statistic.

In my day, I came close. My first car, a ’72 Plymouth Duster, was a pretty awesome car (and would have made a great “project car” now – but family obligations blah, blah, blah…) and a two time try in Pontiac Firebirds (Camario’s poorer cousins – a ’77 and an ’80). But as always, no cigar!

So I live vicariously through your cars as I go through ice, mud and snow. I guess for the time being, the only way to go!