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Hockey and the tapestry of our lives

By |October 9th, 2021|

I would be a Leafs fan, I suppose, but when I was seven years old someone put a woolly Montreal Canadiens sweater on me, with the rest of my hockey gear, skates and all, before snapping a Polaroid of me standing in the living room. My allegiance was somehow set. Paul, my best friend, was a Leafs fan. His mother made sandwiches and cookies and gave them to me

“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”

By |September 25th, 2021|

Once again parents are celebrating September and their kids’ return to school, and I, for one, am enjoying the new freedom to reflect more on how to be the world’s worst dad. First, this. The exasperated school principal. I recently watched the poor guy – it’s a thankless job – with his tie and blazer and jowls and arms all flailing and

It’s Sept. 11. And what have we learned?

By |September 11th, 2021|

It was a recent summer evening and she sat me at the bar because there was space. Before ordering a salad and drink, I lifted my rucksack and a couple of books spilled out. “What are you reading?” I then told her, the waitress, about Philip Roth’s novella “Goodbye Columbus,” about a summer romance that ended in

The bicycle is the great leveller

By |August 14th, 2021|

My relationship with the bicycle began as a love affair in my backyard on a small, grassy incline that might as well have been the Rockies. I was a boy, the bike was my blue bomber, and you can imagine the rest. Now, starting in Alberta and the Rockies, I’ve been showing Western Canada to my daughter, my eldest. The two of us are covering several provinces, including biking in

Tante Eva honours the generations

By |July 25th, 2021|

I’ve always seen the face of my Tante Eva as a face of summer. There she is in this photo from some years ago, standing behind my bride and our three Chumbuckets, along with Eva’s friend, Ingrid, who’s holding photos from Eva’s birth in July, 1931. Eva, the newborn, would eventually know war and other sorrow before she’d grow fully into that woman with a kind face.

If you think the pandemic was bad in Canada …

By |July 4th, 2021|

There are always gentle and innocent ways to have your heart ripped open. One way is to talk to someone who may or may not be alive the next time you think of them. In this case you’re talking with Paul, hands-free, on the road. It’s a sunny June day and there’s no cost, talking all the way to Uganda. It’s 21st-century living.

Are we losing faith in fatherhood?

By |June 19th, 2021|

It’s a happy-enough moment of me and the children in this photo from Father’s Day 10 years ago. But today’s thoughts are about grieving as much as anything. Because it was just another morning with the sun established in the sky when the children’s mother, leaving the house, said what she did. “All our fathers,” is all she said. Her eyes welled up while she hugged me. Her broken

Recalling the lost art of hitchhiking

By |June 12th, 2021|

The sunny news from around here is that I recently drove up a regional road with the three Chumbuckets, that is my three teens, to get their COVID jabs. We didn’t see any hitchhikers. Yeah, yeah, who hitchhikes anymore? Still, I like to keep an eye, you know? One summer day – Child No. 1 was with me – we did help one, a middle-aged woman who clamoured into our vehicle with her

The north and south of who we are

By |May 22nd, 2021|

Today let’s imagine you’re a Wall Street lawyer. Your towering New York office overlooks the Statue of Liberty. You’re high powered, enjoy your colleagues, and like asking those lawyer-like “what if” questions. You’re successful. What would ever make you leave? While you think about that, let’s travel to the Liverpool bar where thousands of Brits recently celebrated without

Mothers and their babies living in risky times

By |May 8th, 2021|

So Darling Doctor Wife, otherwise known as Dr. Jean, recently came home from an off-duty visit to labour and delivery to see Hosanna Froese, a preemie who arrived in this world eight weeks early. Hosanna’s mother, with COVID-19, isolated at home while tiny Hosanna, all 4.1 pounds of her, started life not at her mother’s breast, but in

The beauty and blessing of books in our lives

By |April 17th, 2021|

“Healing place for the soul,” is what the ancient Greeks wrote at the doorways to their libraries. You don’t get that sacredness when you visit, say, YouTube. Or Netflix. Or your handy smartphone. “In the beginning was the Word,” is what the ancients also declared. Not “In the beginning was the microchip.” It’s something to think about this upcoming week, our ongoing relationship, or lack

The place of Easter in our modern world

By |April 3rd, 2021|

Rabbits are wonderful animals to bring a smile to any child, especially chocolate rabbits, but you’d never place much hope for peace on the Easter Bunny. Not that a rabbit can’t speak to Easter. It can. Once my little girl’s rabbit went into eternity, so to speak, in Uganda, after the neighbour boy experimented with how many times it might spin in midair.

There’s a certain grace in loving Grace

By |March 20th, 2021|

Today in this space we continue to explore the most pressing issues of our time, now with the difficult question that’s on everyone’s mind: should we let dogs teach in our universities? My own view is that if my dog, Grace, taught, say, my literature class, she’d do fine. “Today,” she’d say, sitting in front of her class, crossing one furry leg over the other, “we’ll look at grace.”

Yemen needs food and medicine, not guns

By |March 6th, 2021|

If you want to see the children of Yemen, you don’t need to go far. Pull up a chair. Here they are, children of war and disease and famine. There’s one, skin wrapped tight over bone, bloodied under bandages covering her wounds. There’s another, looking up at us, a boy with no leg.  And another girl, alive, apparently, on a bed of sorts.

Hockey and the tapestry of our lives

By |October 9th, 2021|

I would be a Leafs fan, I suppose, but when I was seven years old someone put a woolly Montreal Canadiens sweater on me, with the rest of my hockey gear, skates and all, before snapping a Polaroid of me standing in the living room. My allegiance was somehow set. Paul, my best friend, was a Leafs fan. His mother made sandwiches and cookies and gave them to me

“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”

By |September 25th, 2021|

Once again parents are celebrating September and their kids’ return to school, and I, for one, am enjoying the new freedom to reflect more on how to be the world’s worst dad. First, this. The exasperated school principal. I recently watched the poor guy – it’s a thankless job – with his tie and blazer and jowls and arms all flailing and

It’s Sept. 11. And what have we learned?

By |September 11th, 2021|

It was a recent summer evening and she sat me at the bar because there was space. Before ordering a salad and drink, I lifted my rucksack and a couple of books spilled out. “What are you reading?” I then told her, the waitress, about Philip Roth’s novella “Goodbye Columbus,” about a summer romance that ended in

The bicycle is the great leveller

By |August 14th, 2021|

My relationship with the bicycle began as a love affair in my backyard on a small, grassy incline that might as well have been the Rockies. I was a boy, the bike was my blue bomber, and you can imagine the rest. Now, starting in Alberta and the Rockies, I’ve been showing Western Canada to my daughter, my eldest. The two of us are covering several provinces, including biking in