Newspaper columns

2022 November

Don’t take any child for granted

2022-11-20T08:42:14-05:00November 20th, 2022|Categories: Newspaper columns|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

“Don’t have children. For God’s sake. Don’t.” This is from the mother in Raymond Carver’s story “A Small Good Thing.” Her boy, hit by a car, is dying in the hospital. Who can blame her? Or anyone else?Years ago some friends of mine, not long married, said the same. “We’re not having children.”

2022 November

Taking the long view on democracy, and life

2022-11-06T08:47:44-05:00November 6th, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

It’s a fall day in rural Illinois, near Chicago, and, as I often do, I’m reading aloud to my bride. We’re across the border briefly. It’s just the papers with us. USA Today is in-hand. The Detroit Free Press and Kalamazoo Gazette, in the car’s back seat. I’m looking for a Chicago Tribune.

2022 October

My own funeral? Imagine.

2022-10-16T00:00:22-04:00October 15th, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , , |2 Comments

“Be well.” This is what I said to my students. It was after a recent class. Then they left for the various corners of their lives. We’d just unpacked “Cathedral,” a story by Raymond Carver. He often wrote about broken characters, broken in ways that Carver himself was broken. “Be well.” Then they were gone.

2022 October

Life lessons from Paul Henderson

2022-10-01T21:07:37-04:00October 1st, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , , |2 Comments

I’m with Paul Henderson who’s telling me about unexpected things and the rest of the story. First, for my boy and hundreds of thousands of other young Canadians starting a new hockey season, Henderson offers some advice. He talks about pushing yourself, and teamwork, and the power of encouraging others. Then he says, “Because

2022 September

Riding to save mothers in Zimbabwe

2022-10-18T20:54:58-04:00September 17th, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Then there’s that boy on the beach. He’s the boy throwing starfish back into the ocean, one at a time. As far as the eye can see, starfish lay on the beach, dying. It’s overwhelming. People walk past. “There are too many,” a passerby tells the boy. “You can’t make a difference.” The boy bends down,

2022 September

Hey, Old Man (and the Sea), Happy Birthday!

2022-09-04T00:12:07-04:00September 3rd, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , |0 Comments

If we were all old men we could do worse than land in Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella The Old Man and the Sea. The story, among the most loved of the 20th century, just turned 70. The old man – his name is Santiago – is an outsider. He’s impoverished. Has horrible luck. Hasn’t caught a

2022 August

Dogs, in the dog days of summer

2022-08-22T16:48:14-04:00August 20th, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , |0 Comments

From this corner, the only thing left to say about the dwindling dog days of summer is that the dog is somehow managing. The kids have been gone for large swaths of time. If I was a dog, or if you were, this would take something out of you. How could it not? You know the greeting a dog gives when you arrive home?

2022 August

The wonder of the great outdoors

2022-08-22T19:00:16-04:00August 6th, 2022|Categories: Hamilton Spectator, Newspaper columns|Tags: , , |4 Comments

According to my phone GPS, two of the three children are gone. I asked their mother about this. “Yes, Number Two and Number Three,” she said. “Oh,” I said. When did they leave? “Early summer.” “Yes, of course. To where?” “Camp.” Only Child Number One, the Mac nursing student who’s working in a nearby seniors home, sleeps