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For my 300th Post: a Celebration

Grandpa sharpening 2011We’ve got one more full day left here with Grandpa and Grandma before we head back home. It’s been a pretty emotional trip again. Last time I was so much a caregiver, I was “a bit off” in shock of that. This time I’ve been able to be more the grandson, but I still can’t get used to seeing Grandpa like this, but that’s how life goes – I’m just not used to dealing with it. Hospice came when we were in Niagara Falls and got him oxygen to help him breathe better. That’s hitting pretty close to home for me. It was almost too much.

We went to my uncle’s for an early Thanksgiving dinner last night and that was almost too much for him. Today’s been a day of relaxing and napping to recover. I’m not used to not being the sickest person in the house – I guess that’s a lot of what I’m dealing with. People accept things that happen over time better than quickly – this all seems to be moving too quickly for me. This isn’t how I want to remember Grandpa, so this post is a tribute to the man I’ve known my whole life. A rock. A pillow. A scrubbing pad face in the evening. šŸ˜‰

The business owner

Grandpa, better known as Ivan Sipes to the rest of the world, was born in 1930 across the field and country road from where I sit now. They bought this farm in the 1950s and raised 4 kids. He bought and owned Bolinger Implement Company with his best friend LeRoy Miller, Jr. and successfully sold John Deere machinery and supplies for many a year from 1957-1975. He was such a successful businessman, when we go to the county fair with them, the sons and grandsons of his customers know him by face and name and stop to chat. I used to be annoyed by that as a kid, but as a business owner myself, I can only hope I care enough about my clients that theirĀ descendantsĀ have such fond memories of how I take care of my customers.

The employee

He was still a ways away from retirement when they sold the store, so he went to work for a local feed mill, Liberty Mill. I remember going there many times, also. Folks would stop in just to talk to Grandpa; talk about the weather, the crops, and their families… “oh, and I’ll take 40lbs of this seed while I’m here.” I’m sure that many local farmers drove further than they had to just to be served by him.

The father and husband

I’ve heard him say he wishes he was around more when the kids were growing up, but it’s not like he traveled and left everyone to fend for themselves. I’m sure it’s not any different than how I feel I’m at the computer too much and too busy working to take a half-day with a good friend who needs to talk. That’s going to change. He did fine by my book, too. Each is responsible for their kids and regards him as highly as I’ve ever seen in a family. He and Grandma celebrated 60 years of marriage last summer and we ALL came to pay respect for such an achievement. Quite a clan and quite a gathering of the community that came from far and wide to the open house at church. So much to learn about marriage from them – just by observing – you don’t even need to ask questions.

The grandpa

I don’t know why, but I started to be an adult and respect Grandpa’s wisdom a few years before my parents’ wisdom. After graduation, I flew up at least every year for a holiday and loved coming for 4th of July, the county fair at Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter. They’ve always been more than generous and overlooking my faults when I showed my immaturity. In 32 years, I’ve never heard him say anything bad about anyone past letting me know he doesn’t much care for someone’s actions or demeanor. How many people can you say that about?

Here are some other photos I love.

Fatboy and Beautiful – Five Wonderful Years

Maid of the MistFive years ago today, I asked Beautiful if she would love, honor, and cherish me Ā for better or worse, in sickness and health – she said “I do,” and so did I when she asked me. We kissed and ran down the isle to begin our new lives together. I remember it like yesterday. I also remember it like it was a lifetime ago.

So much has changed: jobs, where we live, plans for kids, the car she drives, starting our business almost 3 years ago, and now Beautiful working from home since February. We’ve been blessed with great trips, momentous family occasions, a roller coaster of health that always works out, and great friends and family that walk with us on this journey called life.

One thing is certain: I couldn’t have picked a more perfect partner to go on this journey with.

To make this year special, since we always seem to be running tight on the budget at our anniversary, I decided that we should go to Niagara Falls and spend more time with my grandparents as a layover and rest zone before and after. A few very hard weeks of working later, we had met the goals needed for the trip, got a falls view hotel on the Canadian side, and headed to Ohio.

No breakdowns this time!

We made it to my grandparents’ just after dinner on Monday and got to spend the next 2 days with them and my parents all in the old farmhouse. We left yesterday morning and drove through gloomy skies up into PA and NY and arrived at the hotel at 2:00. With check-in at 4:00, I went on in and asked if we could check in now – sure. We went through the formalities of the payment and ID and then he seemed new and asked the manager beside him what the difference between these rooms he was looking at was. “Those have Sleep Number beds.” At that point, my hotel training under the vast experience of Beautiful’s dad kicked in, and I quipped, “If it makes any difference which room we get, we’re here for our 5th anniversary.” The manager smiled and pointed at the screen and instructed him to pick ,”that one,” and wished us a wonderful stay and congratulated me.

I already saw that the paper had a complimentary upgrade to a high floor. We ended up with a room on the 15th floor. Upon entering the elevator, we saw that there are only 15 floors! Top floor, baby! We had purchased a city view but were suddenly in a room with a king bed, chair, LCD TV, jacuzzi tub, AND a view of the FALLS! I got choked up and I still get choked up looking out our window as I write this. It’s simply amazing – another bucket list item done.

We quickly rushed as fast as my lungs and legs could get us in the freezing misty rain to Maid of the Mist. The wind was howling to begin with, and then approaching the American Falls, the spray was intense as we slowly went by. As we approached the horseshoe of the Canadian Falls, the wind picked up a ton – hurricane force – and we were in awe of the volume of water, volume of the water’s noise. I took videos and photos until I couldn’t stand to keep our electronics out in the elements any longer. It was 1.15 miles, all uphill, back to the hotel where we had to turn the water all the way hot to thaw out our bones because our jeans got soaked on the boat.

This morning greeted us with the sun coming up over the falls in a golden yellow that looked like a fire in the clouds.

We’re off for more picture-taking and scenery now that my Vest and treatments are done.

Happy anniversary, Beautiful.

Our View

Canadian Falls

Join Us on Social Networks Like Google Plus

Google PlusMany of us have found each other through social networks, usually our blogs’ blogrolls in the sidebars. But many of us are also carrying on daily conversations on the major social networks.

I wanted to put together a place where we can post our social network IDs or URLs. Mine are and have been in the sidebar and header, but here they are in easy format. (yes, always use https!) (Google +)

Please leave your information in the comments so others can follow you and we can all have big parties.

Google +

The newest social network is Google +. It just opened up its doors by invitation last Tuesday, and I got in on Friday. Rather than creating lists and groups that you try to keep track of what permissions they all have (like on Facebook) or broadcasting to everyone without any group control at all (like Twitter), Google + has the best of both worlds: circles.

You create circles of people, such as family, friends, acquaintances, people you think sat behind you in class, etc. Then, each time you post something, you have the option of which circles to broadcast to, or “public” or “extended circles” of your circles’ circles. Pretty neat feature.

You can also edit both posts and comments later AND easily mute a conversation that you comment on and it just never ends. I’ve got a Chrome plugin so I even turned off all e-mail notifications.

My one gripe is that the stream shows all of your circles, but I have some very noisy friends. The work-around is to create a circle of those you want to see their posts (call it “stream” if you want to be really wild and crazy) and put most of your people in that circle, but leave out the noisy ones. You’re still following them and can see them by going to their circle, but your daily stream isn’t taken over by their “junk.”

If you need an invite to Google +, DM me your Gmail address in Twitter after I follow you back.

5 Years Ago Today…

Engagement - 2006

Engagement - 2006

I asked Beautiful to marry me. I was 27 and she was 22. She had just graduated with her 4-year degree at the beginning of May, and I’d been planning the day for months and months. I’d known where and the general idea of when for more than a year.

The night before, I’d called to ask her dad for his blessing and called again just to be sure that he knew that “Tomorrow I will be asking her to marry me… and you’re cool with that?” “Yes,” came the reply. She called me for our good night call when she got home and I was so afraid I’d give it up over the phone that I cut the call short.

We have a favorite beach, and had for the 4 years we dated. It’s called Howard Park over in Tarpon Springs. It’s a man-made island with a causeway out to a parking lot with the beach all around it. We’d probably been there 40-50 times over the years because parking is free and there are groups of palm trees to sit under, which is perfect for two people as white as us!

We got sandwiches on the way there, just like normal. Sat under the trees, just like normal.

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