Anger is the story of 2021

By |December 12th, 2021|

She’s a friend, a literary academic who’s learned and gracious, a woman of faith who –  while the pandemic continues to spin and dance out there – often foregoes going out. This, in order to protect her vulnerable husband. We talked about the vaccine – she’s fully vaccinated – and about

Stories from a Ticats superfan

By |November 27th, 2021|

One day Paul Cicero’s dad bought him a Hamilton Ticats hat and sat the boy in Ivor Wynne Stadium to watch a game. Then TC, the Ticats’ mascot, came by, took the hat, and pretended to consume Paul’s head, before leading the stadium in a roaring cheer. It was 1987. Paul was six. It’s just

Read like your life depends on it

By |October 24th, 2021|

Today let’s talk about Holden Caulfield and kids and newspapers, along with reading in general. After all, it’s Reading Week, or at least it’s Reading Week season. Ontario’s universities scatter these weeks at different times through the fall. It’s important. Because, as long as you’re not reading

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

“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

What, really, is in a name, after all?

By |June 4th, 2022|

It was one of those funny things. My eldest was with me at a garage getting our car checked when she said, “Dad. Look!” I turned to see a set of summer tires, ready for some stranger’s car. “Guenter,” the unknown owner’s name, was written large on the four tires that were stacked like a question mark.

My father’s final lasting peace

By |May 7th, 2022|

Peace can be a strange thing. When I turned 12, my father sat me on the cement ledge at the front of our house to tell me about it. When he was 12, he was taken prisoner by the Russians. Then his escape. And other stories. Hard stories. I needed to know, now that I was a man, so to speak.

Death. Forgiveness. Rebirth. This is Easter.

By |April 16th, 2022|

Here’s a question for Easter weekend. Here’s also a parable. And something about birds. The question came at the dinner table from one of my girls when she was younger. This is what she asked. “What did Jesus do between Good Friday