We were just finishing packing up the car to head back to our house in Cincinnati when Dad asked me to go downstairs with him.

When I was young and my dad would call me down into his workshop, it usually meant trouble. Maybe my grades had been less stellar than I had led him to believe. Or maybe I had stretched the truth a bit  about completing my chores. Either way, a trip into the workshop with Dad seldom resulted in warm, fuzzy father-son bonding – more likely it was a disappointed glare and good long talking-to.

But that was then. Now that I’m married and have three children, visits to the workshop usually involve a woodworking project (more…)

I got the call while in the Delta Sky Lounge at New York LaGuardia. A Senior Producer from CNN had heard about my book – shameless link to the Amazon pre-order page here –  and wanted to talk to me on the topic of ‘mancations,’ which are basically guys’ weekends, time away from the wife and kids, from work and all the other stresses and tedium, obligations and routines of every day life. The irony was, of course, that I was on my way to just such a trip, a couple of days in Maine to meet a friend from L.L. Bean, do some fishing and shoot some clay pigeons. The timing, depending upon how you look at it, was serendipitous. Sure, I was technically working, but I was also in the right frame of mind.

The interviewer, a guy named Wayne Drash, asked me some questions about why I thought it was important that men take time away (more…)

I want to own a shack in the woods, along a river with a porch and a sleeping loft for the kids. A stove and a sink. An old wooden table and a canoe leaning on the outside wall. Doesn’t have to be far away. The closer the better. A place to spend the night, the day, no more than a long weekend. Stop by for a couple of hours and be back home for dinner. Grill outside. A table under the trees. Open shelves in the kitchen. A fireplace would be good. One bedroom. One bathroom. A place to shoot a bow or an air rifle. A place to skip stones. Never completely done. Always a project to do. Something to build. Something to sand. Something to stain. Wood to be chopped. A place to pour a bit of my soul. A place to let it rest.

I want to read on the porch, hang a towel from a line to dry in the late summer sun dappling through the trees. And in the fall, I want to see my breath when I step outside and the leaves as they tumble down to the river. I want it to smell like wood and popcorn oil. I don’t want to entertain there. Maybe a friend or two. Maybe just me, the wife and kids. Maybe just me sometimes. Maybe just the kids when they get old enough. I wonder if its along the Little Miami, if we passed it two summers ago when we took the boys canoeing.I can see the idea of it so clearly.

And on the walls, I want to hang the things I would never hang in our prim suburban home, where old is store-bought and homes are designed by sight instead of feel. Nothing valuable. Nothing fine. Just the things that speak to me in a way I can’t quite understand. Like the place, this tiny shack, this meager cabin.

This place I dream about, but don’t quite see.