Okay, I admit that I'm a broken person

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Real guys are not supposed to admit this, but I feel my brokenness as a person.  A friend suggested that when I showered each morning that I should examine my gender.  Am I still a male?

Because of Parkinsons Disease, my body feels broken.  I walk with a shuffle and bent way over.  My joints, all of them, can really hurt.  It takes me forever to get off a soft couch or chair.  I have trouble communicating because of my weak voice.  I'm losing weight when I'm not trying.

There's more.  My father abandoned me and my mother when I was a baby.  He simply vanished.  No word.  Nothing.  I've felt the sting of that all my life.  It's like a rattlesnake bite that never goes away.

Over the past two weeks, I found myself listening to the podcast Discover the Word where Ann Voskamp, author of the Broken Way, talked about her brokenness and how she viewed it.  I first listened skeptically as she talked thinking that she was just another person who spoke to women who were facing marriage and kid problems.

Then I started to identify with what she was talking about.  I could see it in myself.  I was broken through and through, but I didn't want to admit it.  So what should I do with that?  

She has a cross on her wrist which she felt tipped on her skin.  The answer is taking that lifelong brokenness to the cross of Jesus where he didn't want to suffer, but he did anyways.  He said while on the cross, "Father, why have you forsaken me?"  He can make me whole and that's what I want before I die and I'm planted in our cemetery plots in Okemos.

How long can I wear this cross that I felt tipped on my wrist?  I need to be reminded everyday.

I will check back.


Baby-boomers: Should you really walk 10,000 steps a day?

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Are you a baby-boomer?  I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers.  I stopped jogging a while ago when my knees started to hurt real bad, but I still walked, usually with my wife.

The goal has been to walk 10,000 steps a day.  I assumed that was based on research.  Well, according to this NPR piece, it was the product of a marketing team making pedometers.  Recent research shows that longevity can be increased with less than half that amount.

Great to know.  Right?  For my almost 73 year-old knees that's a difference-maker.  I can easily walk more than 2,000 steps in the morning in our small condo.

What about you?  Do you walk everyday?  10,000 steps?  Less?


At what age do you become elderly?

Baby-boomers and others:  I am a member of the first class of baby-boomers, meaning I was born in 1946.  I turn 73 this year.  Am I elderly?  To check, I went to the source of information for questions like these, Google.  

It said, "Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of 'elderly' or older person, but like many westernized concepts, this does not adapt well to the situation in Africa."  And you go down the search engine results and you quickly see there's no standard definition of elderly.  But they seem to center around being more than 60.

For me, it's going to take some getting used to this definition.  It's a word with power and suggests canes, walkers, doctors and nursing homes.  I accept the fact that I'm the patriarch of our family.  I've kidded family members that means because of my age I've made more mistakes than them.

What about you?  Got any problems being called elderly?

 

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How much do you save by cutting hair at home?

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I needed a haircut.  I don't have much hair left, but a little growth on the top of my head can make me look really shabby.  A few years ago, we bought clippers and my wife started cutting it.  Because of the shape of my head, I have the cue ball look.  But, it looks much better.

Now where do we go for lunch with the money we saved by DIY.


Physical therapy has made me aware of how fast aging happens

 

As we were walking through our almost rural neighborhood, I noticed that I was bending forward more and more and my back was starting to hurt.  It got worse.  And when I went for my annual physical, my primary care provider suggested physical therapy.

Having a really strong desire to fix my awkward walking that made me look like more of an old man than I actually am, I readily agreed to go.  I was hesitant at first not knowing what to expect.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where this can be fixed.  Our below zero weather with a horrendous windchill has kept me from any real deep walks, but I'm noticing improvements.  

Walking through the doors of Orthopedic Rehab Specialists in Holt here's what I found.  My concerns about being judged for my age and my lack of physical fitness were unfounded.  The physical therapists and their aides are really up people.  

My main PT is Aaron Holly, a fortyish health care provider, who has been very patient with me and forthcoming about challenges that I might face.  Then there's Joanna, a PT who has been always up and encouraging and very willing to explain what she's doing.

I get a special t-shirt when I "graduate" from my PT treatment.  I'll wear it with pride and as a reminder that I can slow down this aging thing.  I have to keep up the effort.


Founders Backwood Bastard from Grand Rapids should be the "state beer" of Michigan

Drinking Founders Backwoods Bastard with my son
Do you recognize the guy on the label of the beer my son and I are drinking?

 I first drank a glass of Founders Backwoods Bastard at Horrocks in Lansing.  My son and I had gone there as part of a tradition he and I started at Thanksgiving time when he and his family visited from out of state.  Since then I've gone there with my son-in-law several times.

Drinking Backward Bastard changed my beer tastes forever.  With it, I became familiar with barrel-aged beer where beer is left to meld with tastes of scotch and other tastes.

Fast Forwarding to this past weekend when I turned 72 and when my whole family came to celebrate our daughter and son-in-law, as part of a birthday gift, bought a four pack which is about the same cost as filling your gas tank on a SUV.

While sitting on our couch after a trip to the Jazz Festival in Downtown Detroit, we pulled out two bottles from my birthday gift.  It was a grand taste and a fitting way to start year number 73.

I'd recommend Backwoods Bastard to beer lovers.


With deteriorating vision, going to the fabric store in Mason with my wife

Fat Quarters at a Mason fabric store

While I'm waiting for my appointment with a University of Michigan cornea specialist for a transplant, I'm dealing with vision that seems to be quickly deteriorating.  I'm not sure I understand what's happening other than my visual life is changing quickly.

As I wait for the April 17 appointment, I'm trying to pay attention to what I'm feeling and to the possibility that this could be my new normal.  I'm scared and I admit it.

When my wife yesterday asked, do you want to go out for lunch in Mason, a small town just down the road, and to a fabric store there, I jumped at the chance.  

I think my biggest enemy right now is sitting home waiting for God to flick a switch to turn my vision back on.  I still have to live life and do it somewhat safely.

The fabric store was a cornucopia of colors and patterns and I could see those if I got close enough.  Stepping in and out of the store and the restaurant was more tricky.  My depth perception needs to be recalibrated.

Today is our Saturday night church service.  The adventure continues.


Add me to the list of baby-boomers with cornea problems

When I got up yesterday at 6 a.m., I assumed my usual position on our couch with me on one end and my wife on the other.  This is almost a ritual where we drink our first cup of coffee and read the news and some emails.

It was different this time.  I couldn't make out the words regardless of how big I made them on my iPad Pro.  As a longtime glaucoma patient and as one who has had numerous eye surgeries, I was warned that this day would come.  I was warned that my eyes could reach a tipping point where the optic nerves would start to fall apart to never be made whole again. 

Well, because of a drain surgically implanted a year ago, my eye pressure has never been better.  

Now, it's my cornea, the outer layer of the eye that protects it and which helps focus images which go to the retina and then the optic nerve.  Because of so many surgeries in my right eye, I have plenty of scar tissue which affected the cornea.

In a little more than a week, I will be examined by a specialist at the University of Michigan to determine whether he can do a cornea transplant.  

I've always depended on my vision.  Now I'm having to recalibrate my thinking.  I hope to document this journey which seems to be far from over.


Is it "fake news" that Trump was a draft dodger during Vietnam War?

Me and my M-16.
Shooting my "gun" while in the Army in the early 70s.

There's a story this morning in Politico about how President Trump got five draft deferments from the Army during the Vietnam War.  Four were for college and one was for a bone spur in his foot.

This raises all sorts of questions about his patriotism which he seems to tout all the time.  He should talk openly about this.  Does he ever talk openly about anything that might be unflattering to him?

I got a draft deferment for college and then the draft board told me that was it.  I remember our local draft board was composed of big shooters in our local community who made sure their sons stayed out of the draft.  These dads made it clear that power and position made a difference in keep their sons out of the Army.

It worked for Trump.  He and I are the same age.  I know how disruptive the draft was to daily life back then.  A sledge hammer seemed to be hanging over my head all the time.

By the way, I need to disclose that I got into an active U.S. Army Reserve unit and that my active duty was all in this country.  I have a cousin who wasn't so lucky.

So, is this fake news about Trump?  Is it the truth?

 


With my birthday in a couple of days, I've learned a lot in the last 71 years

 

My dad and i when I was a newborn.
My dad and I when I was brought home from the hospital in 1946.

 

I was born a few minutes after midnight in 1946 in Bay City, Michigan about a year after the end of World War II.  My birthday is in two days and I've been trying to wrap my head around my age with the full knowledge that the sands in my hour glass are getting few and fewer and are moving faster and faster.

I've had days where I wish I could rejoin the workforce to give my life more meaning and purpose.  I looked for it in volunteer service, like being an in-prison volunteer, working with international students at MSU and delivering Meals On Wheels in our old neighborhood in Lansing.  My wife and I have travelled some and have passports with some fun stamps.  

But there's still a gnawing that I haven't rung the right bell yet in my senior citizen experience.  

As I look over the past decades, I go back to a constant question.  So what?  I've pulled out pictures and mementos from the past and I ask myself about what difference did I make in each of these activities I was involved with.  What did I learn?  Did I learn anything worth passing onto others?  

Can anything I've learned be used as a teaching tool?  Do you have any teaching tools from your life experience?

 

 


I've picked Founders "Green Zebra" watermelon beer for my 71st birthday

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I turn 71 next week and I picked Founders Green Zebra for my birthday party. It's made from watermelon and sea salt

I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers and I turn 71 next Thursday-August 31- and I've picked my beer to celebrate.  It's from Founders from Grand Rapids and it's called Green Zebra made with watermelon and sea salt.  Packaging describes it as a Gose Style Ale.  Anybody familiar with it?


Fifties "Rock and Roll" comes to Holt, Michigan outdoor concert-do you know his name?

This outdoor concert in our new town-Holt, Michigan-was fun, free and close.  Parking was easy and free too.  So we went to Veteran's Memorial bandshell in this small enclave just south of Lansing.  

Here's the rub:  I don't remember the name of the group or this lead singer.  The concert was fun and it was loud and was attended by lots and lots of baby-boomers.  The lead singer was incredibly energetic with a voice to match.  However, I didn't catch the name of the group or the singer.  Anybody know what it is?

Their performance was the last for the summer.  There's still Friday night outdoor movies.  We might try one.  


Older "baby-boomer" guys: How well do you remember the draft during the Vietnam War?

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My memories of the draft during the Vietnam war in the sixties and early seventies is getting hazy.  I still remember registering for the draft at the U.S. Post Office on Washington Street in Bay City.  It wasn't long after I got my draft card that guys are to publicly burn them to challenge authorities over being conscripted for what the felt was an unjust war.

It was this article in the New York Times that made me think about it.  The write of this piece was drafted in 1967 when I was at Michigan State University being trained to be a newspaper reporter.  I had a student deferment.  But, I knew that my local draft board in Bay County, Michigan would have me in Basic Training as soon as I graduated.

If you were over 18 in this country, the draft was something always lurking over your shoulder.  You couldn't escape it, unless you had connections with the local draft board, became a teacher or minister or got married.  Then the draft lottery was instituted.  Every date on the calendar was assigned a number and the lower your number the more likely you would be drafted.

My number was 10, putting me high on the list to be conscripted.  I was facing impossible decisions.  I finally found a U.S. Army Reserve School that accepted me as a member.  I had to sign up for six years.  I still had to go to basic and advanced training. and to training once a year with my unit.

I'm sharing this for my grandsons who may face the draft in their lifetimes.  I will try to share more for them.

What about other baby-boomer guys?  Did you get drafted?  Were you able to avoid it?  How?

 


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.

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We are saying goodbye to Lansing after living here for more than three-and-a-half decades of marriage

At the closing.
Our Realtor grabbed this picture yesterday after we closed on our condo.

 

How many of you baby-boomers  came to a point where you realized that it was time to downsize your home.  The kids are gone and you have more than enough space for the two of you.  And you realize that you want to spend more time visiting kids and grandkids.

We came to that point about two years ago and started planning to leave Lansing where I've lived for most of my adult life and where we've lived for more than 35-years of marriage.  We raised two kids here and have plenty of great memories. 

But the time has come to move on and to view the world from a different geographical perspective.

We are moving into a condo from a house that has four bedrooms and a full and finished basement.

We are happy, but still a little sad.  How did we get to this point and how did we make it happen?

For myself and for others who have done it before us and who are struggling with the decision, I will be writing more about that.


OLD PHOTO: Guys in this 1961 picture in the Michigan House really changed the course of my life

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I was 14 years old and was sniffing around the State Capitol when my mom was visiting my aunt who was in Sparrow Hospital.  We had driven earlier in the day from Bay City so we could visit with my aunt who had serious surgery.

I walked down to the Capitol building and watched a session of the Michigan House where I met my State Rep, Les Begick and Ed Good who represented much of the Thumb and grew up across the road from my mom's family outside of Gagetown.  They showed me the rostrum in the chamber and asked if I wanted a picture taken.

They both treated me with great respect and encouraged my interest in politics.  Les Begick became a mentor to me, an older brother and somebody I had a close relationship with until he died.  

This is not a picture I'd put on my study wall, but I've saved it for more than 50 years.  For me, it's an important reminder of two good people.


OLD PHOTO: The Stanley Cup and me in Sen. Dick Posthumus' office

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I was working in the office of Michigan Senate Majority Leader Dick Posthumus when I heard a lot of commotion.  This was before the time that a lot of loud noise would be a signal to crawl under your desk or out a window.

It was part of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team bringing the Stanley Cup which they had just won into his office.  It was an international symbol of athletic perfection and it was familiar to everybody in Michigan.  

The iconic trophy was in the office just before the team was to be presented in the Senate Chambers during a session.

As a pretend sports fan and as the one who had to write notes for Sen. Posthumus' remarks about the team to the Senate, I had to be a quick study about the team and about the NHL.  My reward was this picture.  It's a neat memory.

 


OLD PHOTO: My Teenage Republican meeting with Michigan's Mr. Republican, Jerry Roe

Jerry Roe.
The then executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, Jerry Roe, was the speaker at the first meeting of the Bay County Teenage Republicans.

It was the early 1960s at a meeting room in a bank in downtown Bay City when I had my first formal involvement with the Republican Party.  My cousin Diane and I got our friends together and formed the Bay County Teenage Republican club.  I was under the impression that it was one of the first in the country.

After a notice of the meeting in the Bay City Times, we had our first meeting with Jerry Roe, then the executive director of the Michigan Republican Party.  I remember his encouragement of our interest and activism.

It was the beginning of my long journey in local and Michigan politics.  From there, we campaigned for Republican candidates at all levels, manned the Republican booth at the Bay County Fair and helped with the local Lincoln Day Dinner.

I was a teenager then and now I'm 70.  Was all that involvement worth it?  Did it accomplish anything?  I'm still trying to answer that in my mind.

 


Old photo: Havana, Cuba is where I started growing my beard

 

At the Museum of Revolution
This is me in front of the Museum of the Revolution in Havanna, Cuba

 

Spending a week in Cuba was all the excuse I needed to let my beard grow.  Razor blades were not an over-the-counter item available there.  So, I let it grow and the above photo shows how the early growth looked.  I came home 39 years ago and never shaved it off.

The beard introduced me to the joy of not shaving and to a look that I never changed.  My wife has seen me without a beard only once and my kids have never seen me beardless.  

Will I ever shave it off?  Probably not.  Am I hiding behind a mask of facial hair?  Not really.  I have an incredibly visual double chin.

I'm continuing to go through my vast collection of random photos and clips.  My grandkids might enjoy seeing these when they get old enough.


I was a junior in high school when I got to know Lt. Gov. T. John Lesinski of Michigan

 

T. John Lesinski
Lt. Gov. T. John Lesinski of Michigan

 

I saw and talked to Michigan's Lt. Gov. T. John Lesinski just about everyday back in 1963 when I was a page in the Michigan Senate.  He was a huge man with a giant-sized presence in his office behind the Senate Chambers and on the Senate floor when he presided during a session.

He always took time to say hello and to talk about what was happening in state government.  I was impressed.  Myself and another page were given the keys to his car so we could take it to a nearby carwash.  I was impressed.

I found this picture while going through stacks of photos as part of a downsizing exercise we are going through.  I think I'm going to save it.

How about you?  When was the last time you went through your old photos?