The Amend Corner

Grandkids a reliable source of columns

Posted 6/4/19

I seem to have been a bit lax in my duty to the readers of this column this year.

To put it simply, ever since the calendar rolled to a new year, I haven’t written my usual number of essays …

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The Amend Corner

Grandkids a reliable source of columns


I seem to have been a bit lax in my duty to the readers of this column this year.

To put it simply, ever since the calendar rolled to a new year, I haven’t written my usual number of essays for this space.

My arrangement with the editor calls for a column every couple of weeks. To do that, I should submit at least two columns every month, and three in some months. Admittedly, this arrangement is pretty informal, and it’s that informality that I can blame for this year’s shortcomings on my part. CJ never calls me to demand submissions, he just takes them when I send them. As a result, nobody actually reminds me to write a column.

That’s why I was a bit surprised when, with the end of January approaching, CJ inquired if I had anything in the works, since this column hadn’t appeared in the Tribune since before Christmas. I was even more surprised, maybe even shocked, when my wife asked me if I was still working for the Tribune. Fortunately, I could refer to CJ’s inquiry as proof that I am, still, a columnist for the Tribune.

Unfortunately, it was too late to write a second January column, and I did no better in February. In March, I resolved to write two columns, but. writing the second one was a struggle. I didn’t like it, but submitted it anyway, and I immediately began to have second thoughts. In the end, I asked CJ not to publish it.

That’s why, during three months when you should have been able to read six of my columns, and maybe a seventh, I had only delivered three, and I was starting to feel a bit guilty.

I turned the corner in April, producing two columns, and this is my second submission for May, so maybe I’m back in my groove.

It shouldn’t be that hard. Our nation’s politics alone should give me enough topics for six topics a month. If I get tired of writing about politics — and I most certainly do at times — there are myriad sources out there. The ongoing, multinational effort to put a permanent base on the moon and make our way to Mars probably deserves a column, as does the controversy over vaccinations that a serious measles outbreak has triggered. Even as I type this, three Peterbilt semis are crossing Texas without drivers — an actual human is aboard each in case of malfunction — as progress toward self-driving vehicles proceeds.

American culture in general is always a good source for topics. We Americans are capable of great things that can be celebrated. The other morning, for example, I read about a Major League pitcher who with his wife has created a refuge in Africa for young girls who are orphaned or abandoned and are in danger of being coerced into the sex trade. And you probably read about the rich man who promised to pay off the student loans of the entire graduating class of Morehouse College in Atlanta.

But there are elements of our culture that should be opposed — especially the persistence of racial bigotry and the white supremacy impulse that grows from that bigotry. In addition, we have too many instances of deadly attacks on schools, businesses, churches or just people at random. Recently, a 27-year-old man was sent to prison because he was threatening to shoot large numbers of women because he had never had a girlfriend and was still a virgin. What does that say about our culture?

The best source I can draw from this summer, though, is the every-other-year visit of our son and his family. They will be moving from Niger across the African continent to Ethiopia, and in between, will be on furlough here and in Kentucky, where his wife’s parents live. Once again, we will have all four grandkids together for fun, games and songs and it will generate many photo opportunities and, I hope, column topics for grandpa. So I will end this with a couple of items about those African grandkids.

It seems that Cormac, who is just finishing the fourth grade, decided that the juice in a jar of black olives looked good. To test his theory, he created an olive juice popsicle, consumed it and declared that it was, indeed, tasty. It has to be the first olive popsicle in the history of the world, and my grandson invented it. However, I don’t think it will catch on.

Linnaea, the sister, who is just completing sixth grade, was assigned by her teacher to draw a picture of her hand reaching for a star. Nothing but a star would do, the teacher instructed. Well, being an Amend, Linnaea has a contrary streak, so in the place where the star was supposed to be was a drawing of a manatee. On its shoulder, she drew a picture of the sort of name tag you get at a reunion or meeting. It read, “Hi, my name is Star.”

That’s my girl.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Promise.

The Amend Corner