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12 posts from October 2014

This weekend: Spending time with Samuel of the Bible and virtual playtime with my grandson

When was the last time you read about Samuel, the prophet and judge in the Bible?  Last night at church we finished a six week series of sermons about this person who was instrumental in the history of Israel.

What has surprised me is how relevant Samuel's life is to life today.  It has prompted me to work on recalibrating and refocusing my spiritual life to make "faithfulness" to God my goal.  It has a high falutin sound, but, in actuality, the book of Samuel shows that it touches everything.   With God's help, I'm trying to retool.  Here's the last part of the series presented last night at Ada Bible Church by Pastor Jeff Manion.

Super-grandma and I had a virtual playtime tonight with our four-month old grandson who lives with my son and his wife in St. Louis.  We had fun as we talked with him and he talked to us.  We saw their dog give him a big smooch and look at us with a laser focus.  

Apple's FaceTime is worth it's weight in gold for long distance grandparents.  We love it.  For our two other grandchildren who live overseas, we have similar visits.

When we visited with our son and wife and grandson tonight, we used FaceTime.

My iPhone picture of the day: Urban Chestnut craft beer in my pocket everyday

Have you ever had Urban Chestnut beer? I wish they sold it in Michigan.

I love the birthday gifts I get from my kids.  My daughter and family gave me a special t-shirt to recognize my "grandpa" status and my son and his family gave me a fancy t-shirt and and keychain from the Urban Chestnut craft brewery in St. Louis where they live.

My taste for beer was severely upgraded this summer because of several visits to our son's home.  He took my son-in-law and me to the Urban Chestnut Bierhall on Manchester Avenue.  Conversation was great, as was the beer.  It's Schnicklefritz beer really touched my taste buds.  I found when I got home to mid-Michigan that Budweiser will never taste the same.


Are we the only ones who live so far from their grandchildren?

My wife and I have three young grandchildren.  Two live in another country and one lives a few states away.  We hear plenty of stories from friends about how they see their grandkids several times a week. We can get a little envious and start to wonder if we are the only ones who live so far away.  

Let it be known that we have frequent FaceTime visits with our children and their kids and we have visited each in person.  

This infographic from shows that most grandparents live some appreciaable distance from their grandchildren.  It's just a fact of life.  What are the options?  As retirees, we are looking at moving near our kids in the states.  That raises a whole host of other issues that we are working through.  

Please include attribution to with this graphic.American Grandparents and the Challenges of Distance


Split, Croatia airport
In this photo, we were saying goodbye to our daughter and family just before we get on a plane in Croatia.

How often do you share pictures of your grandchildren?


My three-month old grandson is a charmer. 

It's a ritual every morning when we swing over to get out of bed to check our individual mini iPads to check for overnight pictures of our grandkids who live in differents states and on different continents. Quite often you will hear one of us let out a loud "oh wow" and it's only because of new grandkids pictures on Instagram.

And there are those times when we are in the yard or at the supermarket and I check my Instagram on my cell and find more pictures.  Result is big smiles in the aisles while loading up on bananas, lettuce, apples and other stuff.

How do you share pictures of your kids to their grandparents?  Do you use your phone?  Do you send video clips?  How often?  

Did Promise Keepers make a difference in the spiritual lives of men?


Promise Keepers in Las Vegas
My son Justin and I attended Promise Keepers in Las Vegas 11 years ago this weekend. He's standing in front of the venue for the event. 

Promise Keepers (PK) is becoming a fuzzy memory for me.  I attended my first PK event back in the mid-nineties in Indianapolis.  At the time, it was an eye-opener for me to be in a stadium filled with guys for a Christian event to help them grow closer to Jesus Christ.

After that, my son Justin and I went to 10 more events, in various parts of the country.  They were all filled with men looking for spiritual growth.  

Eleven years ago this weekend, he and I went to PK in Las Vegas.  It was a great father-son weekend where we were able to listen, talk and hear great teaching from God's word.  It was an unlikely setting for a major Christian men's gathering.

This makes me wonder about PK and what effect it had on men.  Did it make a difference in their lives and in their relationship to Jesus?  The movement has pretty much fizzled out.  

What about my grandsons?  Will they ever have a chance to do that with their dads?  Will they see that there are thousands and thousands of men around the country who believe in Jesus?

I hope so.

We will be watching Zeek Braverman come home from heart surgery tonight on Parenthood

At 10 p.m. tonight, we will be watching Parenthood where Zeek Braverman comes home from the hospital after open heart surgery.  He is the family partriarch who with his wife Camille have four kids and nine grandkids.  

Their family life can be messy, but the group hangs together to support each other.  They are there when life happens for the siblings and for the grandkids and for the grandparents.  It's the show's last season.  It's on NBC.


This is from last week's Parenthood as seen in our living room. We will be there tonight with a glass of Great Lakes Red and the sound up.



Should we be concerned that only 12 percent in this country trust the U.S. Congress?


image from
I took this from the backyard of our daughter's home in Bosnia.

Because I have family that lives there, I follow what's happening in Bosnia and other countries on the Balkan Peninsula. My antenna is up for the people who live there and the struggles that they are enduring.  One is their loss of confidence in the political system.

We have been to Bosnia twice and have met many people and have eaten with them in their homes. They were welcoming and interested and open with us.  

One element seems to be noticeable there is an almost total loss of confidence in their political system. Their unemployment is way over 50 percent in some areas and there's little hope of it getting better.  

Last Sunday was their election and this comment from a Sarajevo reporter summed up the results:

To begin with, with a marginally worse figure than in 2010, turnout continues to be a major problem in BiH elections. The reasons for this are multifaceted, as a recent study concluded, but are certainly in large part due to a general disillusionment with the existing political process. All the election results must thus be taken in the context of such a depressing dynamic.

A Wall Street Journal poll this past week says that only 12 percent of those polled in this country approve of the job being done by the U.S. Congress.  Are we headed in the same direction as Bosnia?  Are people here losing hope that their government works?  Can confidence be restored?




Friday nights will not be the same without Schwan's Hawaiian personal pizzas

My wife and I have our own empty-nest meal routines.  One has been our Friday night pizza in front of the television.  We usually have our own Schwan's Hawaiian personal pizza and quite often we will split a beer.  And I can't forget the cut-up vegetables.

We picked this pizza from Schwan's because it was not loaded down with many of the health challenging items that other pizza has.  It satisfied our need for pizza and it tasted good.  And then the news came.

Schwan's discontinued this pizza.  Go to their website and you don't find any worthy substitutions. We are disappointed.  Any ideas out there about appropriate replacements?  We ate the last one a week ago.  You will be missed.


Are you a Schwan's customer? Have you ever tried these personal pizzas?



My day in iPhone pictures: Eye doctor, pumpkin spice, fluorescent lights, beet chips, raking leaves

My eyes were wide-open for most of the morning today and some of this afternoon.  Because of my chronic glaucoma and other eye problems, I'm a groupie at my ophthalmology practice.  It was a full exam today and that starts with getting my eyes dilated.

That meant that when my wife and I went grocery shopping after the appointment, my pupils were wide-open.  However, I was still able to give the camera on my iPhone some exercise.  It was an average day, but these still pictures make the ordinarrieness of the day pop with color.


I'm waiting for my eyes to dilate while at the ophthalmologist's office. As a chronic glaucoma patient and one with other eye problems, I get my eyes checked real often.

 I'm a groupie at my ophthalmologist's office.  I get my eyes checked often  This comes after many surgeries and chronic glaucoma and cataracts.  Eyedrops are just part of my daily routine.

My wife uses pumpkin pie spice to make lattes for us as a treat during the day. The price for a small container is memorable.

 While going down the spice aisle at Meijers on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing, we found the pumpkin pie spice.  This small container was $4.79.  For our homemade pumpkin lattes at home, superwife makes her own spice. 

When we go to the supermarket my vision seems off kilter and my left eye hurts. It's a sensitivity to the intensity of the fluorescent lights.

For the past several months, I've noticed that my eyesight  changes every time I walk in a store like Meijers or Sam's Club.  My eyes start to hurt like I have a low-grade headache.  Doctor says I probably have a sensitivity to that type of illumination.

It was a first today at the supermarket when we bought beet chips. Have you ever had them?

 Red beet chips!  They just about jumped off the shelf when I saw them this morning.  I love red beets.  It's the first time we saw them.  Have you ever had them?  What did you think?

After lunch at home, we raked and bagged the leaves in our front yard.

 When we got home, the leaves in the front yard shouted out to be raked.  We filled three bags.  This is an activity that will continue for the next next month or so.

Can American baby-boomers successfully travel through Europe by themselves?


A year ago today my wife and I took this picture in Frankfurt, Germany. We had just returned from Bosnia and Croatia and we were getting ready to go to Hannover.


Can older baby-boomers navigate their way through the intricacies of travelling in Europe?  There's the language, currency, train schedules and a whole passel of other challenges.

Last year, super-wife and I flew to Bosnia to see our daughter and family.  We flew into Split, Croatia, drove through Slovenia and then to Vienna, Austria and a week later, we went back and stayed a week in Bosnia.  On our return phase, we flew into Frankfurt where we caught a train north to Hannover for a two day visit.

How'd it go?  Great.  We feel more empowered to travel out of the country.  

We got tremendous help from YouTube videos where we found videos taken in the Frankfurt airport of each step from the time you get off the plane to the train station right at the airport.  We saw many others, including ones on how to find the right train car. is a site filled with practical help.  It includes discussion boards where real life situations are posed and then responded to.

We are planning to go back next year for another family visit.  We want to see more.

If you live in a city needing revitalization, be thankful that Tony Hsieh is staying with Downtown Project in Las Vegas


In the working and entertainment section of his apartment, we learned about the redevelopment of the old downtown in Las Vegas.

Last summer, my son Justin who lived in Las Vegas at the time arranged a tour of the Downtown Project developed by Tony Hsieh who sold Zappos for more than a billion bucks.  With his company headquartered in the old downtown of the city, he committed more than $300 to redevelop the area.

He had an amazing vision for a dying area of the city.  His efforts involved lots of risks and plenty of working outside the box.

The rumors had been growing that he was being forced to step down from his position at the helm of the effort.  Today at a Tech Cocktail event, he says the rumor is wrong.  He and his team are cutting new ground and now he assures us his work will continue.

Craft beer and coconut-flavored coffee while shopping for groceries on a Monday morning

Being retired, super-wife and I have a lot of flexibility for when we go grocery shoppping.  This week, it was Monday morning at Horrock's Farm Market on the edge of Lansing, Michigan's Capital City.  The store is filled with amazing produce and other specialized food items.  

There's an amazing craft beer selection, as well as wine.  And there's the cheese along with great meat. There's also a whole wall of shelves filled with endless permutations of chips.

Now there's an onsite bar where you can buy a glass of craft beer to sip while filling your shopping cart.  I didn't get one today because I had hit the coffee sample bar first thing.  I was drinking a big cup of coconut-flavored coffee.


Coffee bar at Horrocks in Lansing.
Best coffee in Michigan's capital city is at Horrock's Market. Samples are big, hot and brewed just right.




The grocery store bar is on the right. It has 50 taps for craft beer and an interesting selection of wine.


Just think, at Horrocks, you can sip a beer or drink a coffee while shopping for apples and other groceries.