IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

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


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MEMORIAL DAY 2013

I cook dogs and burgers any day of the week. And with an “empty nest”, my wife and I can enjoy them when we want. They never make the day special. They just make us well fed. Shopping spree sales seduce shoppers to spend whenever the yen to do so hits. Still not making for a memorable day. A day off to cut the lawn and become broccoli (vegetate) is not the allure.

The end of May brings us to more pressing thoughts (or at least it ought to). Memorial Day is an abused celebration for most of the wrong reasons. Remembering the fallen heroes of our armed forces should be the sole reason; recollections and dedicating honor to those who are most deserving. A chance to decorate (a throwback to the original holiday, Decoration Day) lives offered up and spent in service of freedom and liberty.

A chance to renew my fervor for a project I began last Memorial Day. I named it, “Of Honor and Remembrance”.   The purpose of this site is to simply honor and remember the military men and women who have passed on. It started as I said, last May when I took my handful of flags to plant at my father’s grave and the neighboring “heroes” who lacked that honor (or someone to present it). I was overwhelmed by the number of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines (from many different conflicts – some decorated with Silver and Bronze Stars and many Purple Heart recipients) who had been neglected by time and age. Marker stones almost completely covered with mud and grass, nearly obliterated. I began the monumental task of cleaning and clearing the obstructions so these people would be remembered.

The “Honor” part is in accumulating the names and service designations, as well as their Death Dates to post on the “Of Honor and Remembrance” blog. Currently, I am working on the fact gathering at local Buffalo area cemeteries and trying to determine what form the tributes will take. But until these are completed, I will continue to honor and remember the fallen pillars of our Free Nation.

If there are service men and women whom you would like to add to the Honor Roll, send an e-mail to the address found at “Of Honor and Remembrance”. Send all the information as it appears on the marker or headstone and the cemetery (city and state) and I will be glad to include it. This is a monumental undertaking and I have been overwhelmed but the sheer number of names I have accumulated from a small corner of two local burial places. But it remains to be done… to in some small way, Honor and Remember in the hopes of reclaiming the Memorial of what should be a decorated day!


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WEDDING KRUSE

It was a blur. From start to finish, the day went by in the bat of an eye. A strategic move, bringing home base to a central hotel to make the travel from hotel to Glen Falls Park to Church (St. Gregory the Great R.C. Church, Williamsville, NY) and to a reception at the Hearthstone Manor (Depew, NY), a smooth undertaking. Despite traffic and construction, I think it went off without a hitch. A blurry hitch-less piece of work.

It had been a year and a half in the making. I was “invited” for a cup of coffee by my oldest daughter’s boyfriend of three years, Ryan. He needed to ask me something. Now, I’ve never been on a turnip truck, so falling off of one wasn’t an option. I knew the question. And I knew my answer.

And as I said, we had 18 months to prepare. But it came so quickly (and was over so soon) that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it completely. But I guess I have plenty of time for that (God willing). My family had expanded by one, the son I hadn’t had until now. A sportsman and a sports fan. A Dave Matthews, Zac Brown fan (and as we found out, John Mayer… not so much) But we have one major thing in common that goes a long way in making this connection work.

We both love my daughter, Melissa very much. And now it’s his turn to take care of her in the way she’s become accustomed. In a very simple way, but fully and completely. Not a bad proposition, since he’s had a running start at it.

Now I can sit back and catch my breath for a while. I have another daughter that will take my breath away in due time. Keep the oxygen handy. NEXT… !


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TIME FLEES

It’s been a week since I last posted. You see, I’ve been distracted, but I’ll go back and fill in with thoughts or profiles or attractions. I had done so well, and then it hit me squarely between the eyes.

My oldest daughter is getting married tomorrow. The past week was filled with preparations, last minute changes, fittings and gatherings and a whole mess of panic as it ebbed and flowed. But sitting here now I still find no relief.

The girls are off doing girly things (nails and the last blasts of tanning) before the rehearsal. And I find myself as Steve Martin did at the beginning of “Father of the Bride”; lost in a chronology leading to this day. Twenty seven years passes quickly when you aren’t paying attention.

We’ve spent a lot of time together the past few days. Family meals at a full table were reminiscent of days past. Conversations and melancholy rambles and getting on each others nerves occasionally. (Old habits die hard). Evenings were special, as we watched every “wedding” related movie in our DVD library. Looking back at it, I think we’re ready to begin this new phase. It will be different for sure.

As you get older, the phrase “Time Flees” takes special meaning. But for one day, I am willing it to stand still.

I can hear God laughing now.


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ANDREA LEA

With the spotlight shining brightly on the soon-to-be, bride-to-be, I think it only fitting to present the other bookend, my daughter Andrea. (She prefers AN-DREE-YA, call her ON-DRAY-A and there’ll be much hell to pay). As you can sense, she is a lethal combination of beauty and brawn – an attitude a mile long and wide, and there’s no hiding the fact that my Andrea is Sassy! (Her self- proclaimed moniker) And she backs that up every time.

Maybe it’s just a defense mechanism, but she says what’s on her mind and means what she says. The “sass” comes naturally. But this “Little Darlin'” has a tender side (which unfortunately she doesn’t let out of its cage very often), which is being displayed as we near the marriage of her sister, Melissa. Andrea was so thrilled when asked to be Maid of Honor, and she lavished her older sister with gifts and all the attention deserving a teacher and mentor.

She has a playful repartee with her soon-to-be Brother-in-Law, Ryan, with neither passing the opportunity to nudge and cajole on many topics, but most decidedly – Ice Hockey and Music.

IMG_0058She loves ice hockey, and has a devotion to the local heroes (?), the Buffalo Sabres in general and her favorite #57. She spouts statistics and minutia that would have rivaled my mindless baseball trivia in my halcyon days. At last count Andrea has amassed 9(?) Sabres hockey jerseys and a Colorado Avalanche sweater. (Gabriel Landeskog is a god – IHHO!)

And there is no mistaking, the two sisters are as different as night and Pop Rocks. Melissa, always the levelheaded one, knew where she wanted to be and got there. Andrea has an idea what she wants and will know when she gets there. I have no doubt she will. My wife admonishes our youngest, “If you were my first born, you’d be an only child!” Knowing the headstrong nature of my Taurus, we all realize that’s a lot of bull. She would have emerged no matter what.

As she says, “Dad, timing is everything!”

As Andrea steps to the forefront, I tend to agree with her.


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WATCHING SISTERS GROWING CLOSER

IMG_0145(1)There is a seven year span between my two daughters. In their younger years, that difference was VERY apparent. The comparison between a six year old and a teenager is the shift from night to day. Neither was treated any differently; one not loved more than the other. So growing into that environment didn’t take a whole lot of work on my wife’s and my part. The girls had some figuring out to do.

Melissa, as you’ve found, is the older of the two. A brilliant student who actually struggled greatly early on. But she had found her stride and hit the ground running. Her levelheadedness and willingness to take constructive criticism in the nature it was given, allowed her to become the Salutatorian for her graduating class.

Andrea was our reader. She consumed material faster than I could travel to the library to keep her in fresh “meat”. She vowed to do her sister one better; to finish the top of her class. But fate and children can be very cruel and destructive. And Andrea found that out as she moved up into middle-school. She had been the target for a band of bullies – girls who two years prior were her dearest friends, found her success to be a currency she shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate.

She changed and in her defense found a new strength which became her new attitude. And believe me when I say ATTITUDE! However, she felt the need to wield that sword indiscriminately. Her mother, sister and I caught a stray edge every so often. And again to her credit, Andrea found how to use her “powers” for good. Today, Andrea refers to that time as “becoming Sassy!” She remains sassy to this day.

The girls found their bond naturally. They shared clothes, invading each others closets as if they were battling for the West Bank. They offered opinions on their musical style, often listening to the same groups or introducing the other to something new. Their communication expanded as their acumen with the new technologies left their mother and I scratching our heads.

And in the process a funny thing happened. Melissa and Andrea “became” the sisters we always hoped they’d be. They still “tussle” on occasion, but they work out their differences. As Melissa prepared for her upcoming wedding, her Maid-of-Honor (a title Andrea took great pride in accepting) became an extension of  her older (in chronological years) sister and they began to almost think the same thoughts. Andrea also accepted her new “brother” Ryan (with her own Ryan waiting in the wings). It was nearly perfect. My wife and I became very afraid! 😉

The process, though arduous at times became very clear. We did a decent job with the two of them. Two daughters who make us proud in their own right daily. And two sisters  in whom we’ve taken great joy watching grow closer.

MLWALW1A2


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GROWING UP TO BE A K-BIG KID…

I was born a bit too late. I missed its inception and hung on every word and lyric of its heyday. Those who know me, know music is a big part of my life. For those who don’t know me, music is a big part of my life. You might say that back then music was a K-Big part of my life. I , like many youngsters of their day grew up listening to WKBW-AM 1520. “KB” was the 50,000 watt blowtorch that lit up the airwaves of Buffalo. On a clear night, the signal could be heard up and down the eastern seaboard and into Canada.

The music could have been heard anywhere along the dial, but the personalities that performed their magic at KB were as much the reason to listen .  The likes of Joey Reynolds, Dan Neaverth, Sandy Beach, Brother Shane,  Jackson Armstrong  were extraordinary talents, and the booming voice of then PD the late, great Jefferson Kaye , were well worth the trouble.

And highlights such as the KB Radio’s re-creation of H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds” (Based completely on Buffalo locations) and “Paul McCartney is Alive and Well… Maybe!” became must listen to features year after year at Halloween time.

My biggest (K-Biggest) complaint about radio these days is the lack of personality on radio. Everything is so sterile and that is the saddest commentary on our time. With even FM radio being more pre-programmed, the sound becomes a bastardization of what was once good.

I could listen to the music anywhere (on my computer, on my iTouch/iPhone). But I miss the humanity of a familiar voice you could grow to love.

Growing up a K-Big kid with 1520 was a rewarding  thing. I miss KB. (And all other radio that was once good!)

For more info and photos about WKBW-AM 1520, click HERE.


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SCHROEDER, LUCY AND THE IDES OF MAY…

Today , May 15th – a reprieve from the weather gods, a return to sunshine, blue skies and seventy degree temps. Ok, so I wussed out a bit when the mercury dipped. I’m just sick of those elongated “winters” three weeks from the first day of Summer.

Summer. (Follow closely kids, because here is where I go off on a tangent or a flashback if I get it right – a little mental slight of hand). Today I’m at work listening to music specifically from 1969 – “Summer of Love” (see how nicely I tied that in?) That was the year I became a teen. What did a debilitatingly shy momma’s boy know from rebellion? I just knew the music was boss. That year, and those tunes are the soundtrack for this life.

The melodies and lyrics so clearly sit right on the tip of my cerebellum.  I found my escape in what blasted from my transistor radio (we won’t get into it now kids, it would take some doing – think of it as an iPod in which someone else picks your playlist – yeah, scary, I know!). I also found my poetic powers that summer… in a roundabout way.

My parents bought a console organ – a nice piece of furniture since no one knew how to play the damn thing worth a lick. I was never sure what possessed them to make this acquisition, but all these years later I see the method to their collective madness. And I thank them. I taught myself how to play it. To this day I can not read a note of music, but I did learn to play. I would place my radio nearby and work out the melodies of the sounds I heard. It came as random noise at first (someone squeezing the life out of a goose) but I did eventually get better.

SchroederLucyThe neighbors started to call me “Schroeder” after the piano playing fool from the Peanuts comics. At first I hated the tag. I hated any nickname (I still shudder at them to this day, but have grown more tolerant). I seemed to grow into the moniker. I started writing melodies; “love songs for no one” (Thanks John Mayer). And at thirteen, I lamented lost love that was years from being reality. First crushes die hard. Needless to say, let she who throws the first Schroeder, be labeled the first Lucy (just to keep the illusion straight).

But for as badly as I tried to write the music, the words flowed sweetly and with a depth I never knew I could possess.  My lyrics could certainly stand on their own. My non-musical poetry.

The music on my 1969 playlist takes me home every time. I miss the house in which I grew up and the parents who gave me every thing I ever needed (wanted, on the other hand was a lesson hard learned). I miss the neighborhood and having an audience who came with lawn chairs to listen. I miss being the Schroeder of my youth. This one’s getting a little long in the tooth. I shoulda listened to my mother and practiced more. I coulda been somebody. Maybe even could have been a poet?

Maybe Schroeder?