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Home 2017-04-17T07:03:24+00:00

On gardening, grace and writing

By | October 8th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, October 8, 2016) MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ Someone (a writer, naturally) once said that writing is like prayer. Prayer, it seems to me, is like gardening. I’ve struggled with all three. The small garden behind our African home is testament to this. Many seasons it’s been a disappointing annoyance. Nearby trees steal valuable sunlight and nutrients. I suppose the space should never have been chosen to start.

(Flying around) a small world

By | October 6th, 2016|

It’s the other day and, unbeknownst to me, an old friend of mine, a Canadian we knew from Yemen way back in the day, is about to become a father. His name is Gabriel and, [...]

Answering the tough questions

By | September 27th, 2016|

The Children’s Mother has returned from Tanzania which means, besides the addition of some fresh flowers in the house, I can focus anew on what it is that I do. When you discover what this [...]

Talking to my dinner plate again

By | September 19th, 2016|

So, it’s that time, Single Daddin’ It, again. As you might recall, this is when the children’s mother is out of country and I am left to look at my dinner plate and ask it [...]

We live with our parents, even when we don’t

By | September 17th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, September 17, 2016) ABOARD KLM FLIGHT 535 TO UGANDA ✦ I’ve always envied people who could watch their mothers grow old. My mother, I’ve shared previously, passed on when I was in kindergarten. I hadn’t seen her for two years prior to that. Funny to think of it here, half asleep at 40,000 feet.

We’re back

By | September 9th, 2016|

We’re back in Africa (with the cats and dog and everyone else). So is this blog. They, the Ugandans, always call it a holiday. “So how was your holiday?” they’ll ask. It gets too complicated [...]

In honour of my father and his well-lived life

By | August 27th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, August 27, 2016) HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ It was a different time and place on the day I watched another human being die in my father’s arms. I was just a boy. Bert had epileptic seizures, medically uncontrollable then. Tall and lanky, he’d crumple and fall hard on the floor in the house, or outside under the apple tree, or in places between, shaking, convulsing, rigid as a board. I’d watch. All the time. Bert lived with us.

The good news about the bad news

By | August 20th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, August 20, 2016) HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ It’s funny how you can give a torch to someone and he’ll light up the world, and give the same torch to someone else and he’ll burn the place down. It’s like love and hate. They’re both consuming fires, but with different ends. (The ultimate difference is that hate is all-consuming, and, like evil, will eventually consume itself.)

An anniversary wish to the music of my life

By | July 29th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Friday, July 29, 2016) HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ It's a warm and ordinary day, warm and ordinary enough to run around in shorts and bare feet. The children's mother, your babe, that is your bride, is playing your song. The cats are in front and the dog's in back and the kids are doing homework and nothing much is happening, except this song from the piano in the other room, the piece that makes your blood jump every time.

Lessons we can learn from Eddie the Eagle

By | July 4th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator, Monday, July 4, 2016) HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ "They that wait upon the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles; they will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint." The Hebrew prophet, Isaiah The sad news of the day, or any day, is that the world is full of people who lack hope and basic belief in themselves because they've long been told in one way or another that they'll never amount to anything, that they have nothing to offer, and the sooner they realize this the better it will be for all concerned.

A world where the beautiful and terrible live side by side

By | June 18th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, June 18, 2016) HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ It was my daughter's first teenage birthday party and the family van was full of giggling girls. The verdict on the Tim Bosma trial wasn't in, not yet, when we pulled into the bowling ally across from Carmen's banquet hall and I said, "Tim Bosma's funeral was in that hall. And his wedding too." Silence fell. One girl said it was terrible what happened to Tim. Then my barely 13-year-old asked, "Why would they have his wedding and funeral at the same place?"

Love and courage in a well-lit café

By | June 11th, 2016|

It’s USA Today and a story about Muhammad Ali here at Café Amis, an American-French café on a cobblestone street in Sewickley, PA. It’s a cool spot on a warm Saturday near Pittsburgh, a small [...]

For Gloria, the fatherless girl we left behind

By | June 17th, 2017|

She's the Ugandan girl who we left behind in a part of the world where, this weekend, there is no Father's Day. And even if there was, this girl, our friend, has no father to honour on it. So while it's only suitable that so many fathers and children

Many Ontario doctors caught in euthanasia dilemma

By | June 2nd, 2017|

He’s a friend. A doctor. His name is Stuart. I stood at the front door of his home, my son beside me. Stuart is the keeper of the children’s bicycles while we’re abroad. We swung by to make arrangements to get them. That’s all it was, an ordinary May evening. But the world was somehow different. Its axis had shifted. At least for Stuart. He’d just returned from Queen’s Park, he informed me, with other doctors lobbying for a

Saving mothers, one modest step at a time

By | May 12th, 2017|

In sub-Saharan Africa they call childbirth “war.” If you’re a woman about to deliver a child in that part of the world, this is your fate. Imagine it. You’re young. (Younger than most Canadians can imagine.) You're poor. You're alone.