That’s a Man

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Grandpa waiting to pay the tab at the bar at Dell’s

My grandpa is the typical older man born in the 40’s who still believes in 1940’s ideals and customs. He is strong and silent and has worked his butt off for every penny that he has earned in his life. He started as a farmer from birth with his dad which was just a small family farm with a few animals and a couple of acres that surrounded the house. When he married my grandma at 19 he rented his land and worked in a tile mill until he could buy his first piece of land. From then on he worked hard for everything he has and has built an empire. He is the hardest working man I know and I have more respect for him than anyone in this world. One of the greatest things as a kid was going to spend the week at grandma and grandpa’s house. To this day I still cherish the days that I get to spend with both of my grandparents.

I spent today going to my grandpa’s favorite restaurant where he spends every morning with his friends talking about the latest tractor auctions, barn sales and the weather. He is completely in his element there in this little small town deli, everyone knows his name, where he sits and just what Pete will order, a cheese omelet. He’s a man of few words so when he does speak everyone listens. I made cookies especially for him, sugar free with oatmeal and chocolate chip, and he ate 7 of them until his stomach hurt. Which he kept reminding us of thought the afternoon, but hearing this only makes me happy. Making my grandparents laugh and smile makes me incredibly happy. They are such a big part of my life and are so important to me.

Heading out into the field to pick sweet corn
Heading out into the field to pick sweet corn

While my grandpa has his routines and can usually be found one of four places. The place he truly belongs is in his fields. For a man who has gone from renting 10-15 acres to owning and farming 1750+ acres he still continues to work as if he’s a poor farmer with a young family at the ripe young age of 75. This man will work until the day he passes and he returns to the earth that he has so graciously cared for throughout all his years. His fields are where he knows everything and where the world is the same as what he has known for the past 75 years. Today we got to go out into the fields and pick what may have been the last couple of ears of sweet corn of the year. One of my favorite foods of the summer and one of my greatest and most cherished childhood memories. I love being able to see my grandpa in his atmosphere, where he belongs. Doctors believe my grandpa has early on sets of dementia which is one of the hardest things to accept after losing my grandma to Alzheimer’s just over a year ago. These are the moments I cherish and how I want to remember my grandpa forever. The man who has worked for every single thing that he has in his life and doesn’t for a second take anything for granted. The strongest, hardest working man I know, that’s a man.

“Read about a man who said his family had been farming the same land in Ohio for over 100 years. Felt like he’d paid for it ten times over with his own blood, his own sweat, and his own tears. If he had to he’d be out there on that tractor working seven long, hot days a week. Yeah, he’s the kind of man that people get real quiet when he stands up in a church to speak. They know when he speaks. Oh, that’s a man. That’s a stand tall, walk straight put God’s share in the collection plate man. Oh, that’s a man.”-Jack Ingram

Last ears of corn of the summer!
Last ears of corn of the summer!

Wine, Cheese, and old friends

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I never even knew that wineries in Ohio existed up until about 3 years ago when I heard rumor that there was one near Athens. Last year I visited my first winery Mon Ami on Catabwa Island, right by the shore of Lake Erie, and it was fabulous. That same day we stopped at the winery on Put-in-Bay and it was less than exciting, it was more like going into someone’s kitchen and drinking wine out of a dixie cup. Mon Ami was exactly what I would have pictured a winery to be. It was stunningly lit, with vineyards right across from the actually winery and a garden with tables and Frank Sinatra playing in the background. My sister, my now brother-in-law and cousin sat there and drank 2 bottles of wine and just enjoyed the atmosphere. My new favorite is now Pink Catawba specifically grown in the vineyards of Lake Erie. To my delight that year when I left for school I was able to find Mon Ami Pink Catawba on the shelves of our local Kroger store in Athens. My first winery experience was fantastic and I didn’t have to go to Italy or Napa Valley.

This past weekend, I met up with some old friends from high school and we ventured out to yet another winery a little closer to home, Debonne Chalet. Debonne is beautiful. The farther east you go in Cleveland the more country like it gets and Debonne sits right in the middle of a beautiful vineyard, that is surrounded by lots of other vineyards. We spent all day, wine tasting before selecting our bottle, a new favorite Peach Tree Grigio. The atmosphere of a winery is relaxing, but still very entertaining. Our day out in the sun ended with me finding a new white wine of choice, a career connection, and rebonding with my former best friends.

Later that day, I decided to look up all the wineries in Ohio…woah. There are way more wineries than I ever anticipated. There are over 160 wineries in the state of Ohio alone. What makes them special is that they are all small and unique and don’t mass produce their wines. I’m more than happy they are distributed amongst Ohio stores, but I think it’s great that they stay true to their local pride. I would love to be able to visit all the wineries in Ohio someday. 3 down 160+ to go…

The Chalet
The Chalet
Lots of wines to chose from!
Lots of wines to chose from!
Cheers
Cheers

Graduating with a marketing degree I anticipated my first job to be of an assistant type position, doing minor changes to advertisements and honestly doing the little things that my boss wouldn’t want to do. I started looking back in September of 2012 with absolutely no luck. I felt like I had interviewed a million places and every one of them called me a few short days after to tell me that “They decided to go in a different direction, but good luck with my job search.” My resumes I was sending across the country to my dreamland in California weren’t event getting looked at so I had to change my plan. I started to alter my job search to include the jobs that I absolutely did not want to do, in places I didn’t necessarily want to be and for companies that were less than ideal to work for. I had explored every lead I had and used every friend and family member I could to help get connections. My final straw was a small company on the west side with a Marketing Specialist position available that sounded interesting, but could have been considered out of my range of experience since they were looking for someone with 2 years of experience. Now I was hoping that after 4 years in school, 2 bachelor’s degrees, and 6 internships I could possibly get by. The job was what I actually wanted to do, whereas most of my friends took jobs that could possibly eventually get them where they wanted to go, but no guarantee. I started my job 2 weeks ago.

Probably not the brightest idea of driving the shoreway and taking pictures
Probably not the brightest idea of driving the shoreway and taking pictures

Everyone here is more than nice and helpful since I kind of get lost in the shuffle of things around here. My bosses assistant is my go-to-girl and is honestly my savior with every question I have and keeping me from getting overwhelmed. I work on some mundane projects for clients and the exciting advertisements for billboards and newspapers. I am almost afraid to say how much I really enjoy what I do and the people who I work with. One of the guys told me that this was just my “honeymoon period” of my job and that things would get more stressful from here on out, but I think that I’m ready for it. I have a whole list of responsibilities that make me feel really important and needed around here rather than sitting around doing nothing or testing something out for a boss that will get thrown away when I’m done anyway like I did with all my internships. I have new stresses like making sure I know how everyone likes certain projects completed and the fear that I will mess up with client communication, but I think I’mhandling it well. I can honestly say that I am probably one the only people of my friends and my classmates with an actual office with a door, not just a cubicle with 5 foot high walls. I get distracted every once in a while when I see the reflection of a ship on Lake Erie from the glass wall in front of my office, but it’s just a perk. This may be my honeymoon phase, but I think I’m alright with that.

Lake Erie
Lake Erie

To all of the people who are still searching and to those college seniors who will be graduating, just keep looking. I was impatient too, but just as I was told, these things take time. Don’t be hesitant on applying for something based on not having enough experience because you have got to start somewhere. Someone will pick up your resume and be really impressed by it so it’s just finding who that person is to give it to. Dream jobs don’t happen over night and they may not be the exact pay or location you’re looking for, but you’ll get there. It’s definitely a trip that can be frustrating and hurtful, but you’ll find it. You’ll find a job and hopefully it will always be your “honeymoon phase”.

Strawberry Delight, Strawberry Shortcake, & Strawberry Jam

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My mom is an educated woman with a Bachelor’s of education and a Master’s of Special education and works full time for the local school system. She takes care of the house with the necessary duties of cooking, cleaning and gardening, but my mom has spoiled my sisters and I for our entire lives with homemade meals. I despise the taste of canned vegetables, store boughten relish, microwave meals and baked jelly. My mom takes the extra time to prepare a meal everyday, prepare fresh veggies down to freezing fresh corn each summer, canning relish every year and my favorite making jam each summer when the strawberries are ripe. Living in suburbia and being a full-time teacher and housewife this kind of stuff doesn’t happen often any more, and spending four years at college I was deprived of a good hearty home cooked meal all from fresh ingredients made from my mother’s hands.

Mom took my two nephews, who were more hinders than help, to pick the strawberries and came home with cartons upon cartons of strawberries. Now my mom would not just go to the store and buy the California strawberries, no no no they do not taste the same and do not work as well as the local strawberries in her yearly process of making jam. The local strawberries were tinier, but full of flavor and just right.

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All of our strawberries are turned into our favorite strawberry foods of strawberry delight, strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam. Dad and I helped make the jam this year, well Dad only smashed the berries and ate them, and we smashed and stirred and waited then stirred some more and poured them into containers for the perfect jam. We make just enough to have several extra for when summer rolls around again and it’s time to make another batch to freeze. Now when each of my sisters and I leave the house to our new homes, one of the things we alwasy remember to take, because we would never be caught buying the store bought kind is Mom’s Strawberry Jam.

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Just in case anyone is feeling adventurous it’s a simple recipe that you can find on a box of Certo, but I’ve added it below:

1. Mash strawberries in a large bowl. (We use a potato masher and leave some bigger strawberries just for more flavor)

2. Measure 2 cups of crushed berries and set a side

3. In seperate bowl measure out a precise amount of 4 cups of sugar and add the 2 cups of crushed berries together. Stir together well and let sit for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.

4. In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 package of Certo.

5. Combine lemon juice and Certo mix with Strawberry and sugar mix and stir constantly for 3 minutes.

6. Ladle your jam into your desired container (we use old frosting containers or small mason jars) let sit out for 24 hours.

7. Enjoy your jam or freeze the extras!

Inhabiting the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse

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I’ve lived in Mentor, OH my entire life, except the four years of paradise I spent educating myself in Athens, OH. One of the greatest things about Mentor is the largest beach state parks called Headlands Beach. Although we’re just a suburb of the “Mistake-on-the-lake” we take pride in our green colored semi-clear lake. One of the best things to do at Headlands as teenagers was to walk along the breakwall all the way out the the lighthouse. The trek all the way out to the lighthouse didn’t really serve the purpose of going to see the lighthouse, but to jump off the breakwall into the water, but the lighthouse was always there. I couldn’t even tell you if that lighthouse actually functions as an actual lighthouse, I think it may have been used more so as a storage unit and for the past 21 years and some months I’ve looked at that lighthouse and I’ve never been inside the chain-link fence that surrounds it.

Two years ago, a woman in Pennsylvania purchased the lighthouse and began to renovate it. She purchased it in an auction and planned to live in it and would pay for the necessary construction to do so. She would take a boat to and from the shore when necessary and it would become her home.

Last Sunday, June 9th, she opened the lighthouse up to the public and to the media. I have never seen so many people walk that break wall before in my life. The walk out to the lighthouse is not an easy one and requires a few jumps and particular stepping as to not make the wrong step to fall down a crack or into the water and hundreds of people were going to the lighthouse. Old and young went to see the lighthouse that day and I made sure I got to go.

One of the joys of living at home again is doing things with my parents. I had walked that breakwall a million times with my parents when I was a kid, but never dodging so many people.

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Our journey beginning with standing in line waiting for people to climb down so we could climb up a ladder that was chained to the chain-link fence surrounding the lighthouse.

We darted around people excited to walk through the doors to find that her renovations were complete with 20th century charm. There is still much work to do in the lighthouse, but just being able to see the structure and the inside was remarkable.

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Spiral staircase leading to the third story and to the beacon.

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The proud homeowner’s bedroom and the homeowner herself.

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The top of the lighthouse.

When we first went to the third floor to go up to the I sent my phone up with my parents so they could get the best pictures possible because of my extreme fear of heights. I stood there and watched person after person cram up the smallest flight of stairs ever and was happy about my decision, until an elderly gentleman with an Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light shirt on looked at me and said, “Oh, you have to go up. It’s a once in a life time chance. There’s nothing like it.”

And there wasn’t anything like it.

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