The Virtues of Cultivated Doubt

“Why are you standing there, intentionally antagonizing my dog?” The person addressing me and my wife with this rather perverse question was a neighbor I’ve never met (a medical doctor of some sort, I’m told) who lives catty-corner from us in a large, beautifully restored Queen Anne. It was about 9 PM on a cold … Continue reading The Virtues of Cultivated Doubt

The Two Faces of Cancer

Improbably, we received both calls on the same late-January day, at nearly the same time. As I sat in the family room hearing about my brother Geoff’s throat cancer diagnosis, Barbara was in the dining room speaking with her brother Alan. He’d just been informed he had non-small cell lung cancer, very likely terminal. When … Continue reading The Two Faces of Cancer

The Puppy After That One

The other morning, I was walking my dog when a neighbor curiously regarded my three-month-old Saint Bernard puppy and asked, “You got another dog?” “No,” I replied. “My other puppy died a month ago.” “Oh my god,” she said. “I’m so sorry.” I went on to explain that Lando was two months shy of his … Continue reading The Puppy After That One

The Medical Rites of Spring

Having reached the august age of 61, I find myself at the doctor's office more often than I'd like. For some reason, these appointments cluster in the spring in a bizarre rite of seasonal self-preservation. In the past three months, I've gone for my annual physical, a head-to-toe skin exam with my dermatologist (skin cancer … Continue reading The Medical Rites of Spring

The Thing About Bad Beginnings

In Aristotle’s Politics, the philosopher quotes an ancient Greek saying: Well begun is half done. Not being an Aristotle scholar, I learned the phrase from Mary Poppins, who, most will agree, made Greek philosophy cool again. This catchy axiom stuck with me over the decades, and I still find myself reciting it when undertaking a … Continue reading The Thing About Bad Beginnings

Why We Have Pets

At any given point in my father’s life, he owned a poodle. Not necessarily because he chose to, but because life, with its infinite array of surprises, kept presenting him one. In all, I believe, he owned six: Nicole, Taffy, Buffy, Duffy, Nefertiti, and Poppycock. The last of them, Poppy, outlived both my parents and … Continue reading Why We Have Pets

The Power of Peanut Butter

My father was some kind of sandwich genius. In fact, he was remarkably intelligent in many ways, even brilliant, some would say. A Presbyterian minister by training, he was a ruthless and determined chess player. He read more books in a month than I read in a year—and he remembered them in uncanny detail. And when … Continue reading The Power of Peanut Butter

The Rise and Fall of the Pandemic Introvert

It’s embarrassing to realize I haven’t written a blog post for months now.  I blame the pandemic.  It’s ironic that I should even think to blame COVID-19 for my writer's block because a global pandemic is certainly worth a few whiny blog posts. And I’ve experienced many of the de rigueur indignities that fill blogging … Continue reading The Rise and Fall of the Pandemic Introvert

In It for the Money

Leave it to an ex-literature major to read his annual Social Security statement as a life narrative. But that’s exactly what I did. You see, my driver’s license expired just after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and I’m only now able to schedule an appointment at the DMV to renew it. New York State is … Continue reading In It for the Money