IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

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


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A DAY IN THE LIFE: AN OPEN LETTER TO BROOKLYN ARIEL

My Darling and Most Precious Angel,

Your name is Brooklyn Ariel and you’ve finally arrived, brought into this world on June 3rd of the year, 2019. This was a day that your “Poppi” had anticipated for some time. Not specifically Jun 3rd, but the day that you would join us. You are very small and won’t understand these words for a while, but I hope you will get the chance to and hopefully cherish their intent.

You were born a special little girl. Your Mommy and Daddy love you very much and they have been blessed with the greatest gift ever. You! And in that, you received a wonderful gift in having them as your parents, parent that wanted you and cared enough to have you. The gift of you keeps paying forward as you are also a blessing to your Grandparents, Grandma Jan and me, “Poppi”; G.G. and Grandpa Michael, Aunt Dre (Andrea) and Uncle Joshua, and a lot of cousins. Even your furry friends are happy you are here. Guinness and Marvel and Roman have taken on the job of watching over you and protecting you.

I can tell you as your “Poppi” that I cried when I heard you were born. They were not sad tears in the least. The birth of you is the happiest day of my life in a long string of happy days that I have seen. So, understand that happy tears are the best thing you could have.

In this short week of your life (as of today, June 10th), you have been an incredible joy and a reason to awaken each morning with a glow in my heart and the hope of seeing your beautiful face, your warm “smile” (even if it is gas), and the gentle sounds that come from deep within you. All of that stems from a contentment that you seem to display every day.

But, as your grandfather – your Mommy’s dad – your “Poppi”, let me offer my hopeful thoughts to you for your growth…

…I wish you could know right now how completely loved you are. There is no greater gift than that. I know one day you will understand this, but for now I hope you can bask in its glow.

…I hope to teach you as much as I can from this store of “knowledge” available to me. Know that “Poppi” is not the smartest guy in the world, but he knows enough to get by! I will try to help you see the promise of each new day, and the beauty of every sunset that graces your days. Whether in the sights they provide or in the words that describe them in the most poetic of ways, I hope you will find the hand of God in everything you witness. I promise to help you.

…I want you to know the music in the world around you. And the music in your very soul. Music is important. It will help you express your joy. It will help you understand your sorrows. It will ease your fears. Music will even make you happy for no reason other that just hearing it. And it will make you dance. Dance and music go together like Brooklyn and Poppi. You are my music. If I have the chance, I will teach you how to play music so you will never be without it. We’ll find your unique song (we each have one inside us) and we’ll dance to that too! And you’ll know the Beatles!

…I hope you never lose sight of who you are and where you’ve come from. It is nice to have nice things. But they will not make your life any better, only flashier. Your imagination will serve you well as long as you don’t get fooled into thinking you were meant to be something or someone you are not. Do not place more value on material things than you do on the people around you. They are your true wealth. They will make you rich in heart and mind, and that’s what is important! Be a good person. Be good to people. You are Brooklyn Ariel. Don’t forget it. And don’t get me wrong. It is ok to have nice things, if they are what you want and what you will work hard for. Things don’t come easily, but you’ll appreciate their worth when you work hard for them.

…Of all the gifts I can possibly give you, there is only one that truly matters; the only thing I can give you in great abundance. That is love. You are so loved, and will continue to be as long as I am able to be with you. Know that love will keep me with you no matter where I am. If given the choice of something of great expense or something as priceless as love, I hope you will know to choose love every time. In the end, love is worth so much more.

You are a beautiful little girl. You will grow to be everything you want to be and were meant to be. People will adore you for being the special person you are and will become. But not nearly as much as your Poppi does. Stay well, grow to be happy and love everything around you and you will be even more amazing than I already believe you are. I will forever carry you in my heart, Brooklyn.

 

With so much love,

Poppi


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BREAKING BACK

Who’s this guy Walter White? This Wojtanik guy came ready to leave it all on the table. The age-old fable stems from tales that Dad taught me. The carpenter and apprentice building a bond in the home that he remodeled. Today, the story has a new chapter and is carried forward. Yes, it is hard to believe (I’m finding it hard anyway) but, I’ve completed my siding project. Well there’s still a matter of the downspouts, byr for all intents and purposes, I’m declaring this (in my best  Borat voice – “Great Success!”, “Very nice!”)

We’ll be here twenty-four years in December (Yes, we moved in on December 1st) and through the first three years in which I vowed it would be done, the third year finally ended today. It felt like a long one!

The green shake shingles were an eyesore for all these years (although the green was reminiscent of the old homestead in Lackawanna, growing up on Wood Street.) Dad finally relented for a pastel yellow, but the green was where I began. It seemed fitting to start here, but as with Dad, change was in desperate need.

Vinyl siding, an undertaking I’ve never attempted (well versed in wooden clapboard – thanks Dad!) But I taught myself quickly. The month of August was a dedicated effort to finish. A new month takes control today; it is  right that final touches were completed by the time burgers and dogs hit the grill surface. Labor has ceased on Labor Day.

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< THIS IS THE BEFORE PICTURE

I had ranted on the many hues of “Tan”. (A Woj-TAN-ik house had to find its grounding in the soft brownish hue.) But good God, there was tan and beige and buff, and khaki, and wicker and… you get my point, And being somewhat frugal, I stayed within budget and had foregone the “fancy” colors for tints right off the shelf which were $11 – $22 cheaper a case.

IMG_1185 IMG_1186 Home1THIS IS THE AFTER PICTURE—->

84% of the project was a one man ordeal and as the title mentioned, I busted my back to get to today! And my back isn’t in great shape to begin with! Battling Summer’s hottest and haziest, I sweated off some pounds and turned my skin to leather. Another shade of tan for the project.

I would be remiss if I failed to thank my “crew”: my daughter Melissa and my son (in-law) Ryan Kruse, my daughter Andrea and her BF and my right hand throughout, Cody Stanek, my ‘kid’ sister Laurie Anne Wojtanik and my Brother-in-law Tony Kujawinski (my second story man). The “Foreman” (my wife Janice) kept the construction on track.

And so what next? The back fence posts need to be reset and plumbed up. But for now, mission accomplished. Very nice. Great success!IMG_1189


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MAKING MY WAY BACK “HOME”

It’s been a while since I posted here. Situations and circumstances put life clearly on my doorstep. But we persevere. It’s what life is about.

So here I sit, less than two weeks to Christmas 2013. The tree’s up (the SECOND thing that gets my spirit right – the Christmas music that begins on Halloween not withstanding). That sight and those sounds brings the feeling closer to home. Those who know, understand. Losing both parents at Christmas time (mom on Christmas Eve ’86) it takes some doing every year to find my Christmas. It comes around eventually, but it is still a struggle. The girls are grown and all the magic of their wide-eyed Christmases lingers in the shadows. They “will” my spirit to come our and play!

So I am slowly coming home to Christmas. The decorations that have laced our traditions are being put into place. I will be ready.

A little known secret. Every year for twenty-six years, after all have retired to bed, I put on the suit to dress under the tree. All gifts wrapped and brightly adorned are placed beneath by me in the guise of the Jolly Old Guy! They believe because I believe. Even if only for ten minutes once a year on Christmas Eve, I AM the spirit of the Season. I am Santa Claus. We are all Santa Claus.

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For a journey through my Walter-ego, visit my poetry blog, I AM SANTA CLAUS ( iamsantaclaus.wordpress.com )


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HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY, JOHN!

DCIM100MEDIAMy father-in-law John turned 80. A milestone for anyone. But the fact he has lasted this long is a testament to his constitution. John has advanced Parkinson’s Disease. He had his stomach removed 6 years ago due to cancer. He no longer walks. To say he’s getting the best care at the hands of my mother-in-law, would be a blatant lie. (And she know all about that!)

John exists. His mind is failing. And when we pause to celebrate a momentous occasion, we have to do it  by halves of the family. It is equally divided. Anyone who would read the details would be amazed by the ignorance. And I would be embarrassed  to tell it. According to the mother-in-law, there are the haves and have-nots! The ones who have husbands, and good law abiding kids, and do not live above their means, who are not on public assistance and are not even treated like daughters… blah, blah, blah. The obverse is true for the other two, grown women both at 48 and 52 respectively. Mommy still cares for them. One milks her for she its worth; the other is a horrendous bully. And listening to reason is not a strong suit she’s ever held.

But, I digress. John exists, and it’s sad that things couldn’t be better for the man, but he holds on to live by a precarious thread. And while he does, we still celebrate. Happy Birthday John, on your 80th Birthday.


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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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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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BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY

A smart looking day today. Not overtly warm, but this Sunday holds the charm I remembered as a kid growing up in Lackawanna, New York. Screw the Blue Laws and other random restrictions, it was a guarantee that Sunday was a day of rest. Now I’m not gonna get all biblical on you. That is truly not my style. But after a week of work (with Saturday dedicated to the house and yard) you relished Sunday.

I remember my Grandfather, Josef Kura, a distinguished old (naturalized) immigrant from Igolomia, Poland. He worked in the yard in his later years, various gardens and flower beds; always with a rake or hoe or shovel in hand – the tools of his toil. He dressed in work pants, flannel shirt and ball cap drawn over his eyes. His handkerchief (bandana) hanging from a rear pocket to collect the sweat that beaded on his forehead.  But come Sunday, all that ceased. Dressed in his Sunday best, his going to church clothes – highly polished shoes, pressed pants, white shirt and tie, and a straw fedora perched on his head. This was his uniform for the day.

And it seemed that for a man that worked so extremely hard, it was almost out of character to see him so sedate and relaxed. He was a peaceful man that displayed that persona daily, but dressed for the part each and every Sunday. He rested on Sunday. Today is tailor-made for reminiscing about my mentor. And for kicking up heels and feeling his spirit. I can hear it in the rush of wind. It’s a beautiful Sunday!