We need water like we need air

By |March 19th, 2022|

We thirst. I was reminded of it in a recent email from a Hamilton friend in Nigeria. He shared how during dry season it’s hard to find clean water, whether in towns and cities or for the masses living in bush areas. He said it as plainly as anyone can. “Water is life.” It is. We need water

What “living with it” looks like

By |February 26th, 2022|

It was on the streets of Uganda with shoppers scurrying to beat the rain when the masked woman with the colourful umbrella passed me, or I passed her, a moment, like 10 million others, that would already be forgotten if not for my handy phone camera. Later, in Kampala, reading a recent

Love and all its absurdities

By |February 12th, 2022|

Today, with Valentine’s rounding the corner, let’s talk about love and insanity. First, under the heading, “Everything I’ve Learned In Life, I’ve Learned From My Teenagers,” let me say that there are never a lack of new and exciting lessons. “You know, Dad,” my eldest said recently. “Don’t

Back to school at last — in Uganda

By |February 5th, 2022|

You’re riding on the back of a boda boda, not the safest place on the planet. Paul manoeuvres the motorcycle through some wild traffic while you talk about the school lockdown that’s finally over in this East African nation. “Are you happy?” you ask. “So much,” says Paul, and laughs. It’s a

Our life isn’t meant to be safe

By |January 15th, 2022|

So here we are in a shiny new year – Happy New Year, by the way – and what comes to mind but the darn cemetery. It’s a fine cemetery, really, historic and beautifully-terraced and a refreshing morning walk. Most mornings I’m there with the dog. There we go through the park, past the rink

Finding joy in our journey

By |December 25th, 2021|

I was driving downtown and it was courage as much as joy that came to mind. I’d just driven past a rather unpretentious display with the letters J-O-Y. The O had a nativity scene formed inside. The small, three-letter word was lit in front of a church. It wasn’t much, really.

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

Riding to save mothers in Zimbabwe

By |September 17th, 2022|

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,

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

By |September 3rd, 2022|

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

Dogs, in the dog days of summer

By |August 20th, 2022|

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?

The wonder of the great outdoors

By |August 6th, 2022|

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