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13 posts from June 2017

If you have toddler grandkids, you need to check out the Munchkin sippy cup

Three of our grandkids are visiting this week from another state.  The youngest is a barely over one year-old and, of course, still uses a sippy cup.  I had seen the old style, but I had never seen the Munchkin 360 cup for toddler sized drinkers.

They can pick it up and drink from any part of the top of the cup, instead of having to find the spout which can spill if it is tipped over.  

This morning when my young grandson was walking around drinking milk, he demonstrated how easy it is to use.  He's a walking commercial for Munchkin cups.

If you're a baby-boomer with grandkids, this is worth checking out.  It's totally amazing.  Now if they only made one big enough to drink beer from.


My life's purpose as a senior citizen came to me on the ride home from the grocery store

Why are most barns red?
We passed this barn on Aureiius Road on the way home from Meijers in Mason. It helped me see what is want to spend the rest of my life doing.

How has your life changed in the last 13 years?  I'm talking about from the end of 2004.  

I retired in very early 2005 and found myself without a clear easy-to-follow plan for what comes next.

Most of my adult life had centered around my various jobs in journalism, politics and with my family.  Newspapers went into a death spiral right around that time.  My time in politics moved from being motivating to more like serving a prison sentence.  

I got involved in my urban neighborhood, in a couple of ministries and tried to get involved in my church.  Some of it clicked and some of it didn't.  

One constant remained.  I was always curious and I really like learning new stuff.  When riding with him in his family van, I liked sitting with my young grandson who always had questions.  I knew some of the answers, but he and I would always come up with more questions.

They are all red.  Riding home from the grocery store today on rural roads in our county, we passed several barns.  I had never thought of it before, but I wondered why most barns are read.  Have you ever thought about it?  Why are they red?

What I'm saying here is that I want to be a life-long learner.  I want to state that desire openly.  There's so much to learn and so little time.  In school, my grades were usually right on the edge.  But I always liked learning stuff I was interested in.

Maybe I need a business card or a t-shirt that says, "I'm a lifelong learner and proud of it."  I wonder if my grandkids would wear them.



I invite you to join me in toasting my 3,000th blog post on Daily Grit

My first blog post on Daily Grit.
This is my first post on my personal blog Daily Grit.

This is my 3,000th post on this blog--Daily Grit--which I started in the fall of 2004 on a whim.  It developed into a personal blog where I write about family, my wife, kids, grandkids; our travels; my reading and about some of my personal history.

When I started this very few people were familiar with the term blog.  Neighbors, friends and family would patiently listen and then give me the look that said, give him time and he'll get over this.  

Started blogging early.  I wasn't part of the very first group of bloggers, but I was close, give or take a couple of hundred thousand.  When I saw the trial offer from the company--Typepad--that hosts this blog, I jumped on it.  I really liked the idea of writing snippets about my life.  At that time there were few examples to follow.

I invite you to check out my posts.  The posts about my father--Claude H. Thorp--got indexed on Google and other search engines and served as the vehicle for finding blood relatives that I never knew existed.  It became a story worth of a television drama.

What's next?  I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers which means that I'm going on 71 this year.  I'm looking over my shoulder at my life and what might be valuable to my grandkids.  What'd I learn?

Tonight, my wife and I are going to a community concert where I might just have a diet Pepsi to salute blogging and what it has meant to me.

Daily Grit named one of the best in 2006.
This is a picture of a book that named Daily Grit in 2006 as one of the best on the web.


How do you celebrate your 36th anniversary?

Our wedding picture.
We were married on June 20, 1981 in Bay City.

What can we do tomorrow for our 36th anniversary?  We need to get a bottle of Great Lakes Red and maybe go to a special place for lunch.  We could also give ourselves the gift of a couple thousand more steps on our step counters.

We've done a lot of living.  I praise God real loudly for being able to partner up with her in a life that includes raising a couple of kids, staying focused through my job changes and caring for my elderly mother in her last couple years of life.

There was sharing the joy of being there for the birth of our kids and for each part of their development.  

God is great.  All the time.  Our marriage is proof of that.

The sun is shining a little brighter today in St. Louis today because of my three-year-old grandson


We did it when we got the call from our son Justin who said his wife Lauren had just gone into the hospital to have their first child.  He said "grab mom" and a suitcase and share the joyous moment when their son Miles would be born.  We knew he was coming, but the call came a couple of weeks before his anticipated arrival.

Within a half hour we were on the road to St. Louis with the suitcase in the trunk.  We got there in plenty of time to share the excitement from a next door waiting room for grandparents and we saw our new grandson within a short time from his birth.

That was three years ago today.  It's his birthday.  Being part of his life for the past three years makes me bloat with pride.  He's a spitting image of his dad and has his dad's temperament and gusto for life that he had at that age.

Watching Miles grow and being able to see that I'm a patriarch of a growing and thriving family had made me even more sensitive to the need for me to recognize and thank God for all the blessings he has given me.

Happy Birthday Miles.  I am proud of you.

We are all Thorp without an "e."





Should we try to understand deadbeat dads before we hammer them with jail and prison?


Have you ever tried to understand why your father was a deadbeat dad?  Do you ask yourself why he kicked you and your mom to the side of the road where the vultures circle overhead?

I've looked for answer to my own situation all my life  and maybe I've found a glimmer of light.  For far too long, this question beset me with all kinds of personal doubt about myself.  Did it affect me?  I didn't want it to, but it did and it still affects me much like a scab or scar that just won't go away.

Yesterday, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote about dads who abandon their kids and about research that sheds light on why they do it.

If I understand the research and its conclusions, my dad may have been looking for what I already have.  He was born in rural New England to a poor family that seemed to have no glue to hold it together.  There weren't many examples for him of loving and viable marriage relationships.  He was dead in the water as far as relationships go even before he got started.  

He knew the sex and procreation part, but he knew nothing about relationships with the opposite sex and how to make them work.  

When things fell part with my mom and the other women he had kids with he left to never be found again, except I found him when I was in my late twenties.  He still didn't want me.  I took that pretty personally.

Why do I keep writing about this?  Not for sympathy.  I'm not looking for it.  I'm trying to dissect my feelings about someone  who has been a weight on me and my self-confidence for most of my memory.

Maybe my dad wasn't the asshole I thought he was, somebody who deserved to be thrown into a prison cell with somebody who could help even the score.

I'm trying to absorb this.  Maybe others who have similar experiences can take a piece of this to help them.  I'm trying to put my feelings in words.

If this is too serious or receptive, feel free to move on to other posts.  I will be writing more about this until I'm satisfied that I have an answer that I'm comfortable with and that's worth sharing.


Do you remember when your kids were almost three years-old?

My grandson is off to school.
My two year-old, almost three, goes to school.

I have five grandkids and I'm excited about being part of their lives.  Three who are moving with their parents to Michigan will be here this weekend.  I bet I'll see the other two sometime this weekend over FaceTime.  

My grandson in the picture loves life, loves to learn and knows with confidence that he is loved by his mom and dad and younger sister.  I hope my son Justin can sit down and take a few extra swallows of Dragon's Milk and feel good about the family he and his wife Lauren are raising.  

Have you ever wondered why your dad abandoned you as a child?

Running in a road race.
Back in the 70's, I ran in a road race in Flint, Michigan. I never had anybody to show me how to do sports. Running didn't require a teacher.

When I was younger and before I was married and had children and grandchildren, Father's Day only made the feeling of being abandoned worse.  I grew up wondering why my dad left me on the figurative side of the road and never came back.  I grew up with a dual identity where one person was part of the accepted culture and the other part of me was haunted by the realization that my dad never considered me important enough to even call or write me.

That's why I was struck by the column by David Brooks of the New York Times where he reports on research delving into the question of why dads vanish from their roles as dad.  

This is timely and relevant on the eve of Father's Day and as dads struggle with their role as fathers.  Many will run and not turn back.

The research sheds light on the reasons men leave their kids to never come back.  I always wondered why my dad did it.  What was so terrible about me and my mom that he just vanished.  He did it when I was 18 months old.  I'm now almost 71.  

I'm going to read the research more deeply this coming week.  Right now, my daughter and her husband and their three kids are coming for the weekend.    My wife and I are busy getting ready.  

For the dad who's struggling and for the son who's feeling less of a person, this is an important discussion.  It's vital.

A letter to my son, Justin Thorp, on his 33rd birthday

Justin and me.
My son Justin riding on my shoulders.


At the end of our Face Time conversation this morning, you said, "I have to wipe his butt" pointing to your almost three year old son.  That brought back a whole vault full of memories about your birth and your early childhood and beyond.

I want to go on record as you celebrate your birthday today about how proud I am of you.  It's important for a son to know how his dad feels about him.  I've been there from the beginning when the doctor told me to cut your umbilical cord.  And I'm here now as you teach your son how to wipe his butt.

Just now I went through several hundred pictures on Flickr and Google Photos of things we have done together.  It's an archive of memories of special "father-son" times together.  

As days passed, I became more and more impressed about the man you were becoming and have now become.  You are grounded in values that are firmly set in the love you have received from Jesus.  Fight to keep those.

You are an amazing husband, father and son.  I know that you are passing those same values on to your son and to your daughter.  It's all happening by the grace of God.

I look forward to the days ahead and to our relationship as it continues to redefine itself from the days you rode on my shoulders like the picture above.

I love you.


What about paying a toll to cross the Saginaw River in Bay City?

The Saginaw River cuts through the middle of Bay City, Michigan which has multiple bridges for people to go from the east to west sides.  I grew up there and when I learned how to drive I learned on the Belinda Bridge which was old, rickety and extremely narrow.  Somedays, I'd cross multiple times.  When I was in grade school, I lived on the west side and my school was on the east side of town.

All of the city's multiple bridges are in need of expensive repairs.  The mayor is proposing that a private company be allowed to build a new bridge where a toll would be charged for each time you crossed.  One dollar for city residents and two for those who live elsewhere.


Bay City's Belinda Bridge
I grew up just down the street from this bridge.


 This discussion in northern Michigan is just a small part of the need for infrastructure repairs in this state and country.  The challenge is paying for them.  

Is privatization the answer to making this happen?

What about Bay City?  Are they on to a solution?

Are you watching the Comey testimony live this morning?


James Comes testifies.
We are watching the Comey testimony at home this morning.

My wife and I are watching former FBI director James Comey give his testimony on television right now.  We both realize the significance of the occasion for our country and realize that history is being made.  Our grandkids will study this day in their history classes.

Are you watching too?  Where?  Are you glued to your television set?  

How's my eye pressure and vision seven weeks after my Baerveldt drain implant?


Mustard seeds.
I'm praying for a mustard seed sized faith.

 My ability to see is still a question mark seven weeks after surgery where a Baerveldt drain was placed in my right eye.  After having the pressure in that eye creep higher and higher over a period of time with minimal change from eyedrops, I decided to have the surgery.

At my post-op exam by my glaucoma doctor, my right eye pressure was 35.  The week before, it was 11.  The doctor warned me that my pressure could go up and down during this period.  

What about my vision?  For much of the day, my vision is blurry.  To read, I need to carefully adjust my light and the position of what I want to read.  My eyes are super-sensitive to sunlight.  

How do I feel about my visual future?  I feel uncertain.  Maybe even a little scared.  I have real confidence in my glaucoma doctor.  I've come to learn more about the difficult nature of dealing with eye diseases.  I appreciate the depth of her knowledge and with her  surgical skills.

Whatever happens, I am putting the weight of my situation on the "mustard seed" promise in Matthew 17:20.  That verse says that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains.

Right now, I have vision, even though it may be challenged.  Over the weekend, I had a great weekend at the beach with my family, all of them.  I thank God that I could see my wife, kids and grandkids.

My eye journey continues.


My family.
I've memorized this family picture from the weekend.



The Baerveldt drain in my right eye has opened and the pressure went down

These are the eyedrops I'm taking post surgery.

Because the pressure in my right eye had been increasing, my glaucoma surgeon implanted a drain to reduce the fluid.  After more than a month after the surgery the Baerveldt drain finally opened and the pressure is about half of what it had been.  That eye is still being watched closely to avoid complications and to be able to react quickly if it changes.

What have I noticed since the surgery?

Right now, the vision in that eye is very blurry, but with both eyes it's manageable.  Walking in a crowd, it would be impossible for me to recognize a person unless that were right in front of me.  Reading is more tricky.  It's all a function of the size of the type, the light where I'm reading and the device I am using.  

I'm taking a small assortment of eyedrops, including a steroid and one called Atropene.  The hope is that better sight will return and that what wasn't restored will be correctable with new glasses.

I know this is going to be a journey.  I am so thankful that I have an ophthalmology practice with a crew of specialists.