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14 posts from November 2014

Here's what it looked like on November 29, 2011 in Lansing, Michigan

Here's a video clip of what it looked like in our front yard exactly three years ago.  It does snow here in mid-Michigan in November and this is proof.  This is for out-of-state family members who have been asking.

Here's a good idea for senior citizen baby boomers: virtual support communities


New York Times story about virtual communities for senior citizens.
If your a senior citizen baby-boomer, this should be an interesting read.



I've been thinking about how this New York Times article and how virtual communities for senior citizens, especially older baby-boomers, would work in our area.  It's a way for this group to band together to provide mutal support.

As I read about how this is being implemented in other parts of the country, I can see how this works and how building an online community can help in all aspects of daily living.  

When we get home from church, I'm going to explore the links in this piece.  I'm anxious to learn how it works and whether it can be duplicated here.


I am entering another chapter in my journey with chronic open angle glaucoma

Last night, my wife and I went out for a night on the town where there was a trip to a local hospital for an MRI of my brain.  This was my third visit inside the tiny tube where my head was imaged to see if a menginoma tumor had grown.  

It's all part of a journey with my vision and my eyes that started with cataracts and then glaucoma.  Most recently, my eye examinations have shown that the glaucoma has progressed with my optic nerve getting thinner and a lessening of my peripheral vision.


I'm "Thorp without an e". My bracelet from last night at the MRI


A highlight of this whole experience has been the times when the lens implant in my right eye would fall down and then have to be repositioned.  This happened four times and each time I had to have surgery to place it back in the right spot.  Along the way, I got a detached retina which had to be reattached on an emergency basis.

I've been to many different eye doctors who have their own specialties and I have gotten to know the people at the practice that manages my situation.

Now my situation appears to be going in a negative, sight threatening direction.  And I know that I have to be actively involved in its treatment.  


The State Christmas tree
We passed the Christmas tree in front of the State Capitol when we came home from the hospital last night.


I see two areas of personal concentration, one is my attitude where instead of freaking out about possibly losing vision, I gain strength in my faith that God is in control of all of this.  My attitude will be paramount.  

And the second is that I have the intellectual firepower to understand this, ask the right questions and make the right decisions.  

It's also important to note that my wife is with me on the front lines dealing with this and my kids and their families are an invaluable support group.

I will be back with more.

My dad should know that the cycle of bad fathering has been officially broken


My son and his son.
These two guys--father and son--really love each other.


A cycle of bad fathering can be broken.  I know because I've seen it happen right in front of my eyes.  My late father was a terrible dad and I had fears for a long time that I'd pass along his traits and that my kids would be the recipient.

I knew that God had laid his hand on my marriage and on my kids.  The best parts of my life have been being married and being a dad.  I had no template to follow for either role, other than loose relationships with various uncles.  But deep inside of me I always felt I had those genes that would make me a "loser" in both roles.

It was like a malignancy that wouldn't go away.  That fear would go into hiding and then jump out from behind the bush and then duck back.  

This week I got the clear message that the cycle had been broken.  It has been smashed.  It's no more.  My dad left behind a trail of family wreckage in multiple states.  I am an only child, but I know I have some half-siblings that I know about and probably many who I don't.

My dad stuck with my mother and me for 18 months and then vanished.  I found him 25 years later with a whole new family and he totally rejected me.  I always felt like I was never part of any one group.

My son and his family
My son Justin, his wife Lauren and my grandson Miles

That's changed.  That's changed.  This week my son Justin and his wife Lauren and their son Miles came for Thanksgiving.  At some point, the big arc light went off in my head that my dad's bad fathering had been stopped.  

Justin is an all-in husband and dad.  I knew that before.  But the bright beams on my internal headlights really made it standout.  His wife Lauren is all-in.  She's a great mom and a wife who really loves her husband.

The best job in the world is being a dad.  I learned that with the birth of Justin and his sister Krista.  I've had a bunch of jobs and enjoyed most of them.  But being a dad tops the list.

I feel the same about our daughter Krista and her husband Adam and their kids Xavier and Gretchen.  They are stellar.

In my head, I've seen the image of a big rubber stamp which says, "The cycle has been broken."

Thank-you God.  Thank-you Gladys.  Thank-you mom.


Have you taken a selfie with your grandkids?


We take a selfie with Miles before he leaves for St. Louis

Our son Justin and his wife Lauren left for St. Louis where they live a little more than a half hour ago.  They had been here for the Thanksgiving holiday.  The highlight, of course, was their five-month old son Miles, our youngest grandson.  We had lots of time to cuddle with him.  We talked.  We played and he ate his first solid food at our house.  Their visit was one of many high points in our year.  They are one of our ten million reasons to thank God.


Thanksgiving: I really thank God for my family, Gladys, Krista, Justin, Adam, Lauren, Xavier, Gretchen and Miles

Our house is filled with pictures of our kids and grandkids.  They are a constant reminder of how much God has blessed my wife and me.  Being raised by a single mom, I never got more than a 50 percent view of real family life.  

Then I married Gladys and the adventure started.  There's never been anything better than doing life together with her.  

This Thanksgiving, we celebrated with our son Justin and his wife Lauren and our grandson Miles.  And during Christmas, we will have Krista and her husband Adam and their kids Xavier and Gretchen.

Here's some pictures:


IMG_5874 2
Justin and our five-month old grandson Miles.





My grandson Miles and me.




Justin buys snacks before their trip back to St. Louis.




Our granddaughter Gretchen will come next month. Here she explores homemade pumpkin butter.




My grandson Xavier and I have travelled together to Hungary and Austria, as well as Croatia.



Thanksgiving: Can I do this before I get out of bed in the morning?

I know the importance of getting my day started right.  I know the power of my eating a good breakfast.  And I don't forget how walking early in the morning to get my day started right.  It jump starts my system.

But Rick Warren  suggests before I get out of bed to  intentionally name 10 things I can be thankful for that day.  Can feeling thankful before my feet hit the ground make a difference?  I need to give this a try.


Drinking Founders "Backwoods Bastard" with my son on Thanksgiving Eve


Couldn't find Backwoods Bastard on the shelf. This a great beer to drink with adult sons.


I could talk about the fun of drinking a beer with my son on Thanksgiving Eve at Horrocks in Lansing. It's a mid-Michigan version of Trader's Joe with the difference being that you can drink one of 50 beers on tap or sniff and swish on a wide-variety of wine.

The conversation and the visit was great, but what really grabbed my attention was a craft beer called "Backwoods Bastard" by Founders.  It makes me think that I might never drink Bud Light again.

We each got a snifter and drank it during our conversation around shoppers looking for Thanksgiving wine and for that just right beer for the holiday.

First sips produced a quick "wow."  With the first taste, you got a distinct and strong note of scotch along with carmel.  It make me wish that I was home sipping it on the couch where I could just contemplate it carefully.  As we moved through the store doing last minute shopping for Thanksgiving.

Would I recommend it?  It makes Bud Light taste like flavored water.  

What about the 10.4 percent alcohol in it?  Drink just one.  Even then, you might feel like you need to drink a coffee before doing something else and with a second, you definitely need a designated driver.

Spending a week with super-daughter and her family in rural North Carolina



For my wife and I, this past week was about being part of a family.  We spent eight days in rural North Carolina with our daughter, her husband and two grandkids.  It was an adventure in relationships where we got to spend quality time with each other.  

We spent this time at their temporary home on the grounds of a Wesleyan church camp.  There were lots of trees, roads with very few cars, cows, pigs, goats and a whole lot of quiet.

We talked and talked some more.  We played.  We read books.  We played hide and seek.  We played with a two-liter of pop and mentos and had a tea party on the living room floor.

My conclusion after the visit; my family is a real gift from God.

I'm not sure voting makes a difference anymore in this country

"I Voted" stickers
This is where I've put many of my "I Voted" stickers.

My Facebook newsfeed is filled with digital stickers reminding me to vote today.  I'm sure that we will get many robo-calls reminding me to vote and television will have more than a few reminders.

I grew up with voting as a value.  I couldn't wait to vote for the first time.  For decades, I carried the belief that citizens could make a difference in how they are governed.  I'm not so sure anymore.

It's becoming clearer that many politicians hold voters with contempt.  They disrespect them by distoring or withholding the truth.  To get that all you have to do is watch and listen to the television commercials where they attack each other.  Both sides do it.  Each side will try to make out the other as the spawn of Satan.  

Then when they're elected they easily become part of the ruling class.  Their sole purpose is to perpetuate themselves in office.  

Not all politicians are this way.  There are many who are well-intentioned, but they get to their office with elastic values and all the transparency that can be seen through a thick black curtain.

Anybody feel their vote makes a difference?  How?

Can our tree leaves tell us what kind of winter we are going to have?

It's November 3 and the leaves are off our trees here in mid-Michigan.  A year ago today they were still on our front yard maple tree.  Today, that tree is bare.  What does that mean about the kind of winter we are going to have?  

Cold and lots of snow?  Is it time for me to go out and buy a generator for our home just in case the electricity goes out like it did last year?


Our front yard tree today.
This is our tree this morning. Took the picture from our living room couch. The tree is bare.




Our tree one year ago.
This is the same tree one year ago today. Big difference from today, right?



I'm leaving this David Crowder song--"I Am"--for my kids and my grandkids

My eyes
What songs would you want to leave for your kids to hear?

Knowing the vicissitudes of life and realizing the tenousness of life, I'm tying together a lot of loose ends.  As a dad and a grandpa, I've been thinking about what I can leave my family as part of my legacy.

The likelihood is that my kids and their kids at some point will feel distance from God and his promises.  Life can take a lot of turns and sometimes, it's hard to find your way back.  I'm 68-years-old and have not felt the presence of God on too many occasions.

In church today, we sang this song--"I Am" by David Crowder.  It's a real reminder that he's there.  I'm going to purchase it from iTunes and play it on all my devices.  I need this reminder and I know they will need it too at some point.

So, I leave them this great reminder.


What were you doing one year ago today, Nov. 1?

 What were you doing one year ago today?  Do you remember?  Give it a try?

I have a photo record of what  my wife and I did.  It was all pretty routine stuff, but enjoyable.   Three pictures tell the story.  In most of Michigan, we still clean up leaves from all our tree and some of the neighbors.  That includes getting them out of the eaves.

There was a visit to Starbucks in East Lansing for a pumpkin spice latte.  I don't remember the things we talked about, but I bet our conversation included our kids and grandkids.

We can make a grocery shopping trip into a social occasion.  A year ago, our shopping cart included a bottle of our favorite wine and bananas.    

Cleaning leaves out of our eaves trough is a ritual at our house. All the neighbors have fun taking bets on whether I'll fall off the ladder.


Starbucks is a special place for us. Great coffee and great conversation with my best friend.


Great Lakes Red is our favorite wine. Our local Meijers stocks it. Great for watching football games on television.

I'd highly recommend Runkeeper for older baby-boomers like myself

This is a selfie that I took just before we walked this morning. It's cold in Michigan, so we wore hats.

Because of a lack of meniscus in my left knee I stopped jogging more than a decade ago.  For a number of years I was a regular at our downtown YMCA where I'd run on a small track with the added benefit of socializing with many people who I worked with.

These are our stats for walking as of this morning.

I even ran in a number of races, including a couple that were 10 miles.  Then it all stopped because of daily life and a deteriorating knee.  Over the years, my wife and I have walked on a sometimes regular basis and other times more sporadically.  It was affected by the activities of a growing family, weather and a dog.

Then we retired.  We tried walking everyday, but motivation would come and go.  Now the doctor has told me to walk everyday.  He said to aim for an hour a day doing a 20 minute mile.

This is where our son Justin enters the picture.  He's part of the wired generation.  It touches all part of his life and the life of his family.  Earlier this year, he recommended my trying the app Runkeeper on my phone.

We did and it has been a godsend.  All we had to do was select walking on the app and we were unleashed.  We have walked just about every street in our neighborhood and we've walked when we visit our kids where one lives in a different state and the other overseas.

The app on my iPhone 5 reads out in an audible voice our average speed per mile, the distance we've walked, plus more statistics that are helpful.

My inner self reacts positively to maintainly stats on a mobile device.  And if we are late in walking, the app will send us a reminder.  It also save a map of the routes we take each day.

We are closing in on 300 miles since we started on May 1.  I will write more when we reach that milestone.