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Painter’s View: Contractual Commitments – At Work, At Home, In Life

Happy Birthday, Sis!

 

 

 

Starting in childhood, we learn about making commitments. We enter into agreements to do certain things in certain ways, and at certain times. Often, these agreements are put into writing, especially as we reach college age, and slide into adulthood. They’re called, “contracts.”

 

It really doesn’t matter what type of contract we ae talking about. Generally, the rules are the same. The expectations are spelled out, too. And, every party that enters into the contract needs the other party or parties to (1) take the agreement seriously and (2) comply with the terms set forth in that contract.

 

At work, and in business, we must deal with various contracts: employer and employee, department director/supervisor and team member; company representative and vendor/supplier; employee/staff member and customer/guest; even business owners/managers and/government.

 

At home, and in personal life, we form contracts that may be more flexible and personal: between spouses, parent and child, siblings, and relatives; or personal business such as lender and borrower, seller and buyer, servicer and customer/client.

 

In life, we agree to honor certain contracts, too: as human beings, as residents of planet Earth, as citizens and taxpayers, as neighbors, as a part of a community.

 

Last month, my sister phoned. She was in tears, frightened, and in desperation.

 

For over four years, a person supposedly close to her had been defaulting on a number of their joint, and long-term, legally-binding contracts. The person’s gross negligence had already cost my sister huge financial losses. The person’s total disregard for those contracts had set in motion certain business and legal transactions. And practically everything that my sister holds dear is in jeopardy: home, health, security, friendships and relationships, and her career since 1986.

 

By the way, my sister is a person that enters into every contract, even informal ones, totally committed to fulfilling them.

 

As a child, she honored whatever agreements she had made. At school, she poured her soul into assignments, group projects, club memberships, etc. At home, she did her chores… helped her family, friends and neighbors… looked out for the wild creatures that came anywhere near our back door. In church, she learned her lines for programs, completed her Sunday School lessons, and put a part of her small allowance into the offering plate.

 

On her first job, she stepped in and grabbed a spatula when the cook at Friendly’s Restaurant got ill. Recovering from cervical spine surgery, she completed college freshman assignments and exams – on time. At her U/Miami and Miami-Date Community College internships, she exceeded the terms of the three-way contract among the university-college, employer/company, and herself.

 

With the same employer since 1986, she helps the major corporation meet their contractual obligations and corporate initiatives, as though she is one of the contract co-signers. She tweaks projects and activities to help fulfill her company’s international commitment to serve people of all ages, cultures, backgrounds, and interests. Often traveling wherever to help do that.

 

That said: My sister is one of the first persons on earth that deserves much better than what’s been happening – for much longer than four years, by the way. She is one of the last persons on this earth that deserves such cruel and uncaring, unnecessary, and illegal treatment.

 

So, everyone out there: Please say a little prayer for my sister, Donna Mareé C.

By the way, she’s the same lady that I’ve mentioned in a number of other blog posts.

 

MANY THANKS from everyone in our family!

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An ethical sibling is a real treasure, and worth every paint project she asks you to do.

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Copyright August 5, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved

 

 

 

Painter’s View: Tony Mareno: What He Does Know!

In the film, “Saturday Night Fever,” (1977), John Travolta plays Tony Mareno. A “nineteen, almost twenty year old,” he knows that he wants to be something. But he tells Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) that he just doesn’t know what.

 

WHAT TONY DOES KNOW:

 

  1. He wants to become an adult, and build a future for himself.
  2. He wants to make his own decisions about his own life.
  3. He wants the responsibility of a regular job.
  4. He wants to have fun with his friends, but within the law and not at the expense of anyone else’s life.
  5. He wants to be respected and trusted much more than he wants to be liked.
  6. He wants to be loved for the right reasons.
  7. And, he wants his dance partner and himself to win that competition’s first prize of $200 because they really are the best.

 

Through every situation, Tony works to maintain a set of values that even he does not yet know how deeply rooted they are within himself.

 

At the time of the movie’s release, beginning painters, under age 21, had the same types of goals and aspirations as young Tony. (And young Travolta, for that matter.) Most painters that I met in the late 1970s didn’t seem to think much about working hard to achieve respect, trust and success. They worked hard because that was what adults were supposed to do. That’s what they did to get the paint job done – on time, within budget, and satisfactorily.

 

In the 1980s, the climate started to change. I met and worked around more painters that shared my father’s view of the trade – and his set of standards. Painting and decorating was a profession, not just a job. With above-average hourly wages and great benefits, if you were a union painter.

 

More painters were approaching every aspect of the painting job seriously. And, with intent and focus.

 

Beyond painting trade, eg. IBPAT/IUPAT, journey-level certifications, they pursued goals and aspirations that were forward-thinking. They sought out training workshops and courses that led to specialized certifications. Some completed two-year or four-year college degrees in chemistry, construction management, construction/materials/civil engineering, business administration, etc. Many looked toward working for themselves: starting their own painting contracting companies.

 

They worked a lot of overtime to save for business start-up costs.

. Licenses, insurances, permits

. Paintshop space, business phone number and address

. Yellow Pages advertising; business cards, stationery, customer estimate sheets, contract forms

. Enough tools and equipment to take on jobs.

. Start-up capital, business bank account and credit card, account at nearest, major paint store (s).

 

Many of these painters wanted to build a solid future in the painting trade. And, they were willing to do whatever was necessary to start out, and stay, on the right path.

 

Some of these painters have done well as contractors. As entrepreneurs. Some of their one-man shops have grown into top contracting firms in their respective area, state and even region. Some keep thirty-to-fifty or more craftspersons busy full-time, year-round. Plus shop people, office staff, and part-timers.

 

They, their companies and their crews are recognized for doing top quality work. With finely-tuned business savvy, they run multiple jobs simultaneously. And they consistently bring in projects under budget.

 

Ironically, few of these successful painters and entrepreneurs anticipated such success. They either loved to paint and wanted to do that the rest of their painting career lives. Or, they loved the painting business and wanted to be the big boss. Their way!

 

My old boss, Ron, was one of those success stories. His company, eventually sold years ago to his partner, continues to thrive. Every painter there pursues his or her job with professionalism. Every painter, and employee, maintains the same commitment to high standards upon which the company was founded in the 1970s.

 

A non-painter, Ron ran with his entrepreneurial dream. Before taking that step, he grabbed on board one of the best commercial and industrial painters in the Midwest: my father. And, with only a one-painter crew, he opened a union painting company.

 

I remember hearing part of a kitchen table conversation when my dad and Ron brainstormed about starting a new painting contractor firm. It was very clear: Dad’s boss knew what type of business he wanted to run, and how he wanted to run it. He knew what commercial and industrial clients in the Midwest wanted, needed and expected. And, he knew how to give it to them.

 

Today, new painting company entrepreneurs can draw from the examples that people like Ron left. They can turn their goals and aspirations into realities. They can build very successful careers in a trade that appreciates creativity, commitment, and core quality.

 

And, they can thrive in a trade and industry – painting and decorating, and construction – that continues to be linked to strong architecture/design/engineering/building innovativeness, invention, and investment.

 

Congratulations to every painter-turned-contractor that has stayed true to his or her mission!

 

Footnote: Travolta and his wife, Kelly, still call “home” their plane-port community near Ocala, Florida. One of the rewards of a 40-plus year career in entertainment.

 

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Stay true to yourself, and always fly true to your mission!

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Copyright June 14, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

Painter’s View: July 4th On and Off the Job

Many hotel and facility painters must work on July 4th. Particularly if they are scheduled for that day of the week. Some painters, especially with maintenance capabilities, opt to work, switching slots so that a married teammate can enjoy the holiday with his or her family.

 

I liked to work on holidays, including July 4. Such a great day: festive, informal atmosphere; light-hearted, friendly people; great food from the chef; lots of games; full occupancy; bosses more easy-going. (And the time-and-a-half pay was nice, too.)

 

Painters that work for contractors usually get off for legal holidays, including July 4. My father, for instance, worked as superintendent for a major union contractor, and also on his own. Either way, he was free to take the holiday off. And, when the 4th fell on a week-end, it was that much sweeter. “Two whole days to have Dad to ourselves.” That’s how I looked at it, as a kid.

 

And, in our family, July 4th was a big deal: a holiday celebrated together. From the time that we got up in the morning – 7 A.M. – till bedtime – 11 P.M.

 

Here’s how a typical JULY 4 played out in our family.

 

1. 7:30 A.M. – BREAKFAST

– Typical menu: Stuffed omelet, pancakes, bacon, buttered toast, orange juice, coffee (for Dad).

– Some years, we took our plates out to the patio, and ate amidst the birds, flowers and rabbits, ladybugs and deer.

2. 9:00 A.M. – GET-READY-TO-ROLL TIME.

– Pack mid-sized cooler with snacks, cans of sodas, bag of ice. Put on comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Grab four folding chairs. Stick everything into Dad’s SUV.

3. 9:30 SHARP – GET-SITUATED TIME

– Find a good parking spot in Hobart. Walk to Ridge Road or Main Street. Set up chairs and cooler at curb. Look for friends and neighbors. Wave “HI.”

4. 10:00-11:30 A.M. – HUGE JULY 4 PARADE

– Floats designed and put together by locals; school marching bands; sports teams from local schools, baton twirlers, children’s and teen gymnastic and dance groups;

– Equestrian groups, prize Arabian stallions from Wayne Pavel’s Shiloh Farms;

– Celebrities and local/state/even national politicians;

– Siren-blaring, lights-flashing police cars and fire engines. Thousands of wrapped candies and Bazooka Bubble Gum, tossed to children along the parade route.

5. 12:00 Noon – LUNCH at Nearby Park

– Watch music performers at Bandstand.

6. 1:30-4:00 P.M. – TIME TO VISIT

– Drive around and briefly visit different relatives and friends.

– Grandparents, Dad’s favorite uncle and family, more housebound relatives.

– Some years, we joined a large picnic at a family friend’s home.

7. 5:00-6:00 P.M. – HOME-AND-RECOUP-TIME

– Family pitched in and cleaned out cooler and put leftover snacks and drinks away from activities earlier in the day.

– Take our time taking care of a few chores, feeding twin puppies and Donna’s gerbil.

– Resting or playing outdoors.

8. 6:00-6:30 P.M. – LIGHT DINNER/SUPPER – often on patio.

– Featured “make-your-own” sandwiches, also tossed salad, chips, homemade cookies, and chilled ice tea (made with real spearmint leaves).

9. 6:30-7:30 P.M. – INDIVIDUAL TIME

– Family talk-fest around kitchen table, or on patio.

– Board game, game of 500 Rummy.

10. 8:00 P.M. – GET-READY-TO-GO-AGAIN TIME

– Pack snacks and drinks, change clothes and put on comfortable shoes again, grab warm jackets or sweaters. Oh yes: Also seat cushions.

– Head for Hobart High School’s Football Field.

11. 9:00-10:00 P.M. – BIG TIME AND EAR-SHATTERING FIREWORKS SHOW!

– Find good spot (? hard bleachers)  with close family friends, near old classmates and neighbors;

– Seated within seeing distance of neighbors, even co-workers, boss, local doctors and families.

–  A great, feel-good way to end a July 4th holiday at home.

12. 10:15 P.M. – HEAD for HOME

– Ringing/deafened ears, tired feet, sore hind-end and muscles, little upset stomach.

– Exhausted, sleepy.

13. 10:40 P.M. – HOME and BED!

 

OUR AWAY-FROM-HOME JULY 4 CELEBRATIONS

 

1. When my sister and I were young, we spent a few July 4 week-ends with our grandparents in southern Indiana. At 9:30 A.M. on the Fourth, we gathered at the curb. Then we watched Linton’s award-winning parade. Even big-name celebrities and politicians vied to ride in that parade.

 

2. When Donna and I entered our teen years, our family took 10-12 day vacations during July 4-time.

* Several times, we stayed on Lake Wawasee, in the great cottage of a family friend. On the 4th, we watched the huge Water/Flotilla Parade, then awesome on-the-water fireworks. There, Dad and Mom taught my sister and me to water-ski.

– Wawasee, located near Syracuse, Indiana, was the summer home of Eli Lilly, aeronautical inventor George E. Manis, insurance magnate Peter Heller, etc.

– The lake also served as location of United Methodist’s Church largest summer camp and retreat and Catholic church’s largest training center and retreat for priests and monks.

– The lake was site of famed “Chinese Pagoda Garden,” a privately-owned replica of the Royal garden.

* Several times, we vacationed at Lake Maxinkuckee. There Dad taught his two teens to handle an inboard cruiser. Note: Famed, private Culver Military Academy was located nearby.

 

Point Is: July 4th was about family. Hanging out together, and because all four of us wanted to do that. In my fifties now, and basically fatherless since 1993, I appreciate more than ever those July 4ths with our entire family. Somehow, it makes every 4th, as an adult, very valuable.

 

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MESSAGE: Do-the-Time this July 4. And, do it with family – by birth, design, or choice.

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Copyright July 1, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: Little Acts of Appreciation

Every day, a painter’s world includes opportunities to show his or her appreciation. To someone. For something.

 

Ten Acts of Appreciation a Hotel Painter Can Try

 

  1. Thank your teammates, supervisor, and other coworkers for their help, support, etc.
  2. Go easy on the teammate that goofed, again. Even if he or she could have prevented it.
  3. Hold the door open for a hotel guest trying to get moved into his or her room.
  4. Offer to hold something so a guest can strap his or her toddler into the safety car seat.
  5. Cut your chief engineer some slack. Tell him or her, “That’s okay. I can see that you’re under a lot of extra pressure right now…”
  6. Volunteer an extra pair of hands to a teammate, or staff member in another department.
  7. Offer that grumpier or aloof co-worker a way to talk to you without any explanation.
  8. Cover for a teammate when he or she needs to make a personal call during work time.
  9. Cut your co-workers some slack, especially when the work pressure is getting to them.
  10. Discreetly offer a “listening ear” to a co-worker whose mood/behavior/attitude has changed for some reason.

 

Ten Acts of Appreciation a Commercial-Industrial Painter Can Try

 

  1. Thank your fellow crew members for their efforts to bring in a project within constraints.
  2. Offer to cover for a co-worker who needs a little longer lunch or break time.
  3. Foreman: offer the worker, who is very pressured by personal responsibilities, the option to occasionally start work a little later. Or to leave a little earlier..
  4. Give the new guy a hand, or two. Even if he or she is experienced. Remember when you started out there?
  5. Cut that apprentice some slack. He or she is new to painting, and new to your company.
  6. Periodically, thank and visit your suppliers’ stores, shops, websites, LinkedIn.com, etc.
  7. Periodically connect with both your strong and less strong connections through social media. Acknowledge their recent accomplishments, or news. Thank them for any input they’ve given.
  8. On-site crew member: Loan a better paintbrush to a newer coworker, who might not yet own the size or type of brush needed to do the task.
  9. Thank and praise both long-standing and newer crew members. Especially when things have been going rough on the project, and/or for the company
  10. Thank your company’s office staff for making your job more doable. Please thank your foreman, superintendent/boss and company owner once periodically, too.

 

FOOTNOTE: I remember every person that has helped me, as a painter, to have a good day. Their smiles or laughs.  Their joking jabs. Their choices of words. Their handshakes. Their encouragement. The hands that they lent me. Their “training.” Their advice and constructive criticism. It all mattered to me. They all mattered to me.

 

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Showing appreciation works better when it’s sincere, spontaneous, and individualized.

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Behind “Painting with Bob” is a network of dedicated painters, professionals, friends, and editor.

Copyright 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

All That Good Food: Plates for the Homeless COUPLES

Three homeless couples sleep in an empty duplex in the east part of St. Cloud, Florida. Two couples are in their late fifties. The third couple is in their seventies.

 

Two of the men are military veterans. Their physical damages, from serving in the Afghanistan War, are not considered severe enough to qualify them for help from any of those TV-publicized organizations for veterans.

 

In November of 2017, the owner of the duplex learned about his “guests.” He had the utilities turned back on through April of 2018.

 

My mother heard about the couples, while helping her local Friends of the Library group host its annual luncheon for the library staff.

 

So, what did she do?

 

An hour or so after the event ended, she went into the library staff’s kitchen. And, she fixed plates of leftover food for those three couples.

 

For each person, she fixed a plate with the following: a 3-inch sub sandwich, fresh (finger) veggies, fresh fruit sections, a tomato slice and large spoonful of cut lettuce, a few Dorito chips, and, a large spoonful of popped corn. Plus a thick, creamy-frosting topped cupcake, dropped into a foam cup for safer traveling.

 

Then, she took the two plastic bags of plated food to the nearby trailer park resident that knew the couples’ location.

 

Did my mother do the right thing?

 

After the lunch, a large quantity of food remained. After she fixed those six plates, a lot of food still remained for the library staff to munch on later.

 

Hopefully, why what Mom did – and how she did it – will count for something.

 

Christmas season or not, people need to eat to keep up their strength. And to avert more serious health problems. People over age 55 tend to have less reserve. Thus, they need to eat regularly and healthily. Preferably more than once a day.

 

When word about the couples reached my mother’s ears, she knew what she needed to do.

 

Even if it meant leaving a ten-twenty dollar donation in the Friends of the Library’s “Jack Lynn Sorting Room” at the local library. (Which she’d do anyway.)

 

Even if it meant that she needed to inform the rest of her group about what she’d done. (Which she’s doing today.)

You see, until a year ago, all three men were able to work at least part time. One, in fact, as a residential painter. Now, only one of the men is able to stand or walk more than fifteen minutes at a time.

 

I’d like to say that Mom’s spontaneous, though unauthorized, act of kindness, on behalf of the group, was 100 percent okay. I don’t know for certain.

 

What my mother learned this morning, from that trailer park resident, makes me glad about things like the possible hidden opportunity that all that food provided.

 

Simply put: A need could be filled. Immediately.

 

HOW OFTEN DOES THAT HAPPEN WHERE YOU LIVE?

 

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Stepping out of one’s comfort and safety zone, for others, can be a sure step for society.

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Best regards. And thank you for clicking on “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

People Make the Difference: Inside Your Own Life

Time, circumstance and preferences change our holiday agendas. What we do, where we go (or stay), and who we spend the season with reflects our current take on life.

 

WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE INSIDE OF YOUR OWN LIFE?

 

Purdue U. friend Paul.

“I’m in a better place than a year ago. Thanks to prostrate scare, I’ve simplified. I retired as dean, and took a part-time teaching post. My wife and I moved back to southern Indiana. We’re within three hours of all of our children and grandchildren. We downsized to a 1,950 square feet English-style villa, from a 3,800-plus square feet, two-story Georgian with five acres to care for.”

 

Arizonan family friend.

“I’m ready to let someone else run this business. I don’t need to be in charge any more. I want to take my son and grandsons to the mountains, and fish…”

 

Aruban pilot pal.

“…leaving the destructive winds was the start of a new life. I sold the tourist charter plane service. I moved back to Columbia, and work with my cousins. At their family coffee plantation. We’ve always gotten along like brothers…”

 

Former PPG manufacturer’s rep.

“I asked for a smaller region. I had to move over 2,000 miles to get one. My wife and I were able to cut our expenses nearly a third. We were ready for a change of scenery. Relaxed life. More time…”

 

Painter friend Alex.

He first sent a Scrooge answer.

“The year’s been tough. I’m not in a good place. Nothing’s going right…”

 

Five minutes later his follow-up:

“Spinal surgery was a success. The doctors say that my son will be walking again by the middle of 2018. His wife, my daughter-in-law, has been able to return to full-time at work. My wife: she’s decorating everything in sight this Christmas…”

 

Southern Indiana cousin.

“Bob, I finally got it when my nephew asked, ‘Are you gonna be here next May to see me get my degree?’ I called my doctor…got my meds figured out… put myself on that Mediterranean-DASH diet…already lost fourteen pounds…”

 

Paleontology expert on Silver Lake region, CA.

“I look at my life as a history in the making. Not better than yesterday, or last year. Merely on track…”

 

My sister, always honest and creative.

“Bob? Who cares? When I get through the day, that’s doing better than when I got up in the morning, and went out the door…”

 

And me?

“Definitely, a no. 9 in the works. Books on course. Moving forward. Painting life in its right place. New hard drive installed; old one on its way to an expert to try to retrieve some special files… And two double batches of those Archway-like powdered sugar-coated Pecan balls, on the cooling racks.”

 

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Have a blessed and safe holiday week. And thanks from “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter – Vietnam Veteran That Makes A Difference

In the mid-1980s, my mother interviewed over 1,000 Vietnam veterans. Most of them had been suffering with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Other health problems as well. Fewer than 25 percent of those veterans were receiving the healthcare that they needed.

 

Within five years of being interviewed, over 60 percent of those with PTSD had died. For those still alive, life was full of ups and downs. The veterans struggled to get ongoing access to healthcare, job opportunities, and financing for education, home buying, business startups, etc.

 

Fast forward: It’s now 2017. Over forty years after the U. S. troops pulled out of South Vietnam. Over thirty years after my mother interviewed the last veteran on her list.

 

On November 6, 2017, a LinkedIn.com “Connect” request came into my home page. It was from a retired painter-painting contractor on the west coast.

 

The 72-year old man wanted to know if I was related to a “Sandra…….. Hajtovik.” (That’s my mother in case you haven’t made that connection.) If so, he asked, “Could you please put me in touch with her?… I’d appreciate it…”

 

A Vietnam veteran (U. S. Marines Green Beret), he’d been interviewed by my mother in 1984. He wanted to tell her what had happened with him in the last thirty-three years.. “How my life has been going…” he e-mailed.

 

Within a day of getting the message, my mother e-mailed the man.

 

So, how had his life been going?

 

  1. It turns out that he was the retired founder of one of the largest commercial painting companies on the west coast.

 

  1. Over the last twenty-five years, his company had given jobs to over fifty-five Vietnam veterans.

 

  1. Many of those “painters” – men and women – suffered on and off with PTSD and other medical conditions caused by toxic exposures while serving in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s.

 

  1. One of the “automatic benefits” available to all of his employees, particularly the Vietnam veterans, had been financial help to go to college or trade school, rent or buy a home, lease or buy a vehicle, get emergency or surgery treatment, even bury a close relative. “Help has included for immediate family, too,” the man has e-mailed my mother.

 

  1. Special financial help has been available for any “employee painter” who wanted to start a painting contracting business of his or her own. (That’s helping to set up the competition.)

 

For Christmas of 2017, this “retired painter” is bringing all of his employees and immediate families to Central Florida, for two weeks, to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

 

He’s invited my mother and me to join the group for two days and nights. (That includes hotel accommodations inside Disney. I have other plans that can’t be changed.)

 

My mother accepted the very kind invitation. Already, she is jotting down a short list of “interview-type” questions.

 

It would have been great to meet the fellow career painter and decorator, and talk shop. Also, I’d  want to find out why, besides the obvious, he has employed and stuck by so many Vietnam veterans.

 

“Character builds character,” my Grandfather Boyd once said. “Worth builds upon worth.”

 

From what I’ve learned so far, I’d say that this retired painter/painting contractor – Vietnam vet that my mother met in 1984 – has tried to help other painters-vets build good “self-character.” I’d say that he’s also helped to build more sense of “self-worth” into their worlds – and into the larger world in which they are still trying to make it.

 

What an important legacy this war veteran is leaving behind. One person at a time.

 

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How far and how well others journey through life often has so much to do with you, and I.

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Thank you for checking into “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: How Last Stops Can Play Forward

In December of 1992, my father visited Florida – and his daughter – for the last time. Every year, he planned it so that he’d be in the “Sunshine State” to celebrate his birthday.

 

On the way to South Florida, he stopped at St. Augustine. He walked through the Fort, and checked out the cannons pointed out to sea (Atlantic Ocean). He knelt and prayed in the tiny chapel nearby, where the Spanish explorers prayed for calm seas. He toured the Henry Flagler Museum, and admired examples of the world’s rarest seashells.

 

He window-shopped along the cobblestone-covered street where top artists and craftspersons displayed and sold their works. He got acquainted with one of Florida’s, and the city’s, most renowned oil painters. He drove through torrential rains and winds to St. Augustine Island, to buy a relic nautical bell, from a diver that explored old sunken ships.

 

In South Florida, he gave his daughter a ride to work for three days straight because it took her hatchback auto so long to defrost and warm on cold, icy mornings. Early mornings, he (and Mom) walked along Bal Harbor Beach, between one of Sunny Isle’s most expensive oceanfront condo buildings and Baker’s Haulover Cut, a channel that connected the Intercoastal Waterway to the Atlantic.

 

Outside, he waited in line for an hour or longer to bite into one of the best, and largest, Kosher sandwiches in the Southeast. (He had a Classic Cornbeef; Mom had her Reuben.)

 

The afternoon of Christmas Day, he walked along the southerly stretch of that Bal Harbor Beach. Ahead of his daughter and Mom. His head hung low; his steps slower that usual. Whenever he glanced back at family strolling behind, he wore a contemplative look on his face.

 

One morning, he followed up with a lead from a real estate broker that handled large residential properties in Golden Beach. It was located along a small stretch of ocean property between Sunny Isles and Hollywood.

 

He admired several new oceanfront mansions along Ocean Boulevard. Eventually, he pulled into the drive at the address given to him. A massive, U-shaped stucco mansion, painted in a soft Golden-yellow, towered before him. A lean, bronze-tanned man – the Italian architect – stood by a long and glossy black Mercedes.

 

“Distinguished, friendly” was the way Dad described the man during a long-distance phone call to me on Christmas Day. He also said that the man’s oldest son had been pre-med at Purdue, the same time that I was there.

 

My father got out of his like-new grey Chevy Suburban, and introduced himself. The gentleman laid down his tube of blueprints, then took Dad on a tour of the 10,500 -plus square foot home.

Over thirty minutes later, the two men re-emerged, wide smiles on their faces.

 

After an embrace and a “Chiao,” Dad climbed back into his vehicle. He handed Mom two business cards, and a handwritten note on the architect’s engraved personal stationery. And he said, “We’re moving to Southeast Florida. I’m going into painting here. My own shop. Mr. V is my first client…”

 

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that Dad never made it back to Florida. (Well, not in his well-known earthly form.)

 

FAST FORWARD…

 

Christmas 2017, I will be my sister’s guest when she spends over three days at the Golden Beach home of that Italian architect’s son and his family. Longtime customers of my sister’s employer.

 

When the invitation card was forwarded to me, it contained an interesting old photo. Taken in December of 1992, it showed my father, a distinguished gentleman wearing an Ivory silk suit, and a third man dressed in “painter whites.”

 

They stood in a large marble-walled rotunda at that Golden Beach home. Under a partially-completed dome ceiling: A replica of the Sistene Chapel.

 

Standing to the side of the three men was a man a little younger than I. He was dressed in a black turtleneck and worn jeans. (He looked a little familiar.)

 

“The guy in the dirty jeans is me,” my sister’s Christmas week host had scrawled at the bottom of his invitation note. He added, “I hope that you can make it. Condolences about your father. He would have liked it here. Done very well… My father liked him.”

 

SMALL WORLD, ISN’T IT?

 

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Every meeting in passing is an opportunity about to unfold.  RDH

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Many thanks for doing your work and living your life with a conscientious soul.

And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

THE THANKFUL TURKEY

 

 

   ~ A GUEST HOLIDAY STORY ~ 

 

“WHEW!” gasped Terrence. “I  made it!” Another Thanksgiving has moved on.

He gazed around Strongbow’s Turkey Farm. “There’s Mack, and Lou . . .  Carl . . . Robert.” Near the back fence, he saw “Larry . . . Scott . . .Paul. And, there’s Brian and Harold.”

Terrence asked, “GOBBLE? How are you doing, guys?”

Under a clump of low-flung trees, “Buck. . .Jim. . .Nathan.  GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE. Good to see you.”

Terrence peered in the direction of a long row of feeders. That’s where he could always find Stan, Sam and Steve. The three Turks!

“GOBBLE GOBBLE, GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE. No use to really look,” he muttered to himself.

“GOBBLE. They’re all gone.” A tear crept from his eye, onto his bright red comb.

After living five years on the famous Valparaiso, Indiana, farm, he knew how fortunate he was. To still be there. Alive.

Not fully dressed (de-feathered). Wrapped tightly in that special plastic cover, and laid inside one of the huge freezer rooms in the “processing” building.

Waiting to be carried across the road to Strongbow’s award-winning restaurant. Then, placed in Chef Louis’s hands for roasting. Or, sold to a private customer. For home cooking!

GOBBLE! GOBBLE! A shiver ran through his body. All the way down to his knobby knees.

He stared across U. S. Highway 30. He could see the lit windows of Strongbow Turkey Inn.1

He saw Chef Louis and his assistant, Alphonso, moving around. “What are they doing? Thanksgiving has passed.”

Truthfully? Terrence knew.  After Thanksgiving, much work had to be done.

The dining rooms in the restaurant and Inn would still fill with people (diners). Traveling families stopping for a fine meal. Local people, celebrating late because of working on the holiday. Regular patrons and small groups, that ate a fine meal there every chance they got.

Terrence knew Chef Louis, by sight and voice. Often, the popular chef visited the fields where the Broad-breasted Bronze Turkeys grazed. Where they huddled closely together.

Sometimes, he brought Alphonso or Marie with him. Much of the time, he came alone. Talking with the turkeys as he wandered among them.

 

 

 

 

Whenever Chef Louis came by, Milan, the keeper, came out and walked along with him. Chef Louis did a lot of pointing. And, Milan said, “Yes! Perfect.”

“Good,” said the Chef, nodding his head up and down.

Weekends were always quiet on the farm.  Especially, after a holiday.

Milan was gone with his family. Chef Louis, Alphonso, and Marie kept busy in the Inn across the road.

“GOBBLE! GOBBLE! GOBBLE! We can relax.” The turkeys reassured each other.

Unlike the other turkeys that came and went at the farm, Terrence never had to worry about such things. For that, he had become most grateful.

You see, he was no longer a young turkey. The turkey had passed his “prime.” A long time ago.

In fact, Terrence had become what some folks – what Chef Louis and Mr. Adams, a co-owner – called a “mascot.”

 

Strongbow’s Mascot.”

 

That meant he would never have to worry about losing all of his feathers, and staying in a freezer room. Until you know who – his Holy maker – came along, and did you know what!

He never had to worry about being roasted in a hot oven. Cut apart and sliced up. And served on a huge platter, or on beautiful China dinner plates. To complete strangers.

Terrence gazed in wonder at the night sky. It had turned a plush, velvet deep blue. Luminous and mystifying. Filled with stars that shone brightly. Winking and blinking.

And, the moon: the color of white corn. Lighting up the field in glorious splendor.

He crouched down by a peony bush and lowered his head.

 

“Thank you, God,”  he prayed, “for sparing me all these years. For giving me this fine home, and corn and grain to eat. And so many fine friends and neighbors.

“Thank you for Chef Louis and Alphonso, and Marie. Milan, too.” He paused.

“Please bless my old friends that have moved on. And bless others with their robust meat and savory flavor.

“May we all give thanks, Heavenly Father. For your love and care. Amen.”

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrence slept. Thankful as any old turkey could be!

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1. Terrence” is a fictional turkey. Strongbow Turkey Inn and its farm were very real. Sadly, the restaurant, bakery and Bow Bar were closed on March 29 of 2015. Catering, holiday buffets and special events continue to be available. Since 2013, Strongbow’s owner has been Luke Oil Company, Hobart, Indiana.

2. Copyright © 2017. Sandra Stepler Hajtovik. All rights reserved. From: Table of Thanks and The Thankful Turkey, Copyright © 2016. SSH Communications. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert and Jamaica

My brother-in-law’s eyes glisten, when he describes the ocean views in every direction, from the family’s hilltop home in Jamaica. At every window, you can feel the ocean breeze. Even on the hottest, most humid days.

When Hurricane Andrew struck the Caribbean in August of 1992, the television news media showed shots of that house, being ravaged by the winds and rain. Small sections of the roof being peeled off, and flung away. Closed window shutters being ripped from their hinges, then twirling and hurling through the air.

Miraculously, the huge white stucco house stood unscathed otherwise. Structurally sound. Most of the interior had been left undamaged, except for marred walls. A few pieces of wood furniture were scratched and water damaged. A few dozen earthen floor tiles loosened.

Repairs took time, and cost a small fortune. Most construction materials had to be imported from the mainland. The United States, primarily.

The lost roof sections and window panes were replaced first. Destroyed wood window shutters were replaced. As necessary, interior surfaces and living spaces were repaired and refinished. Uprooted landscaping was replaced.

In 2014, the entire property was restored to its original appearance. Certain “upgrades” were added that featured construction materials and techniques designed to withstand major disaster wind currents, rain, and flooding.

1. A new roof was put on the house and adjacent building. Roof tresses were stapled and tied down with special stabilizers.
2. All windows were replaced with units designed to withstand 250-mph storm winds and gusts.
3. All wood shutters were stripped, refinished and re-installed with solid steel hardware.
4. The exterior surfaces were pressure-washed, with a special compound, then repaired and prepped. An extreme environmental exposure primer sealer was sprayed on. Then, three coats of tropical-formulated paint were brushed, rolled, and sprayed on. Note: Products were heavy-duty. Manufacturer: Sherwin-Williams.
5. All interior painted surfaces were stripped, filled and sanded. Then, three coats of off-white stucco paint were applied, using brushes, rollers and spray systems. Manufacturer: Glidden’s.
6. All natural wood railings, wainscoting, and trims were repaired, filled and smooth-sanded. Then, two teak oil-treatments were applied. Manufacturer: MinWax.
7. The tile floors were cleaned with a mixture of natural elements, then re-grouted, and resealed.
8. The wood furniture and cabinetry were cleaned. Most received a teak oil-treatment.
9. Wood furniture and cabinetry with badly-abused surfaces were carefully wet-sanded. Then the pieces were painted with high-gloss indoor or outdoor latex.
10. Upholstered pieces were repaired and recovered.

The property remains in the family. Since 2007, the property and the resident owner receive visitors on rare occasions, and only at certain times of the year.
Still visible from every window, veranda and door is the ocean’s face. As peaceful, yet as changing and unpredictable, as the winds overhead.

The last month has been an ideal time to reflect on that home in Jamaica – and its very long recovery. Even with plenty of money, the owners have had to exercise immense patience during this reconstruction process.

And, as someone else’s in-law told me as Hurricane Maria threatened the islands last week, “Hurricanes are a part of island life, Bob. You take the major damage with the major joys.”

The man knew what he was talking about. At 71, he was still a life-long, and full-time, resident of St. Anne’s and Kingston. He’d ridden out many major storms in the past. And, even as he knew the Category 4-5 was ripping off shutters, uprooting 50-60 year old trees, and pouring rain into every crack, he smiled. Totally accepting and content.

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Natives bring island life into perspective for mainlanders.
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Best regards to both Roberts: the one back home in Jamaica, the other one wishing he were there.

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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