What I learned while teaching inmates to write

What I learned while teaching inmates to write

First published in the Sept. 4, 2016 (Eugene, Ore.) Register-Guard Lifestyle section. SALEM — An hour before I’m to present a three-hour writers workshop at the maximum security facility of the Oregon State Penitentiary, I’m having breakfast at a restaurant when my phone buzzes. Brett Gilchrist, the senior pastor at University Fellowship Church in Eugene, has CC’d me with an email message he has sent to Rabbi Avrohom Perlstein, a...

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To pee or not to pee, that is the question

To pee or not to pee, that is the question

The call took me by surprise. Nearly three years after I’d left The Register-Guard to write books and do other feast-or-famine work, the paper was offering me a part-time position as an associate editor. My main task, besides writing an occasional editorial, would be editing the letters to the editor, which, in politically charged Eugene, is a little like being a referee in a tug of war. I said yes, in part because the new challenge intrigued...

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Microwave cooking in the bathroom

Microwave cooking in the bathroom

The great thing about doing a house remodel/add-on is that when you leave for the weekend you don’t have to worry about whether you left the stove on. You no longer have a stove. You no longer have a dishwasher. You no longer have a kitchen sink with running water. Your refrigerator opens into your hallway, which is just across from the bathroom that’s been repurposed from its traditional use and is now your new kitchen — all 125 square...

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First grandson turns 9

First grandson turns 9

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Cade Welch, our first grandson, was born in 2005, I began a ritual of writing a once-a-year letter to him in The Register-Guard — and later to his sister and cousins — come birthday time. Today, Cade turns 9. In his honor, here’s that first column. MAYBE YOU’VE experienced it: one of those “whoa” moments when you’re reminded that in the book of life, you’ve ventured far beyond the...

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Starting a ‘second life’

Starting a ‘second life’

Editor’s note: Since leaving The Register-Guard Dec. 6, 2013 I’ve had numerous requests from readers who missed my final column. Here it is: Column writing, it’s been said, is a little like running in front of a combine in a farmer’s field: exhilarating, exhausting and fun — until you trip just once. After 14 years as a columnist, 24 years at The Register-Guard and 37 years in the newspaper business, I’ve grown weary of...

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The simplicity of sailing*

The simplicity of sailing*

* I’m kidding, I’m kidding! The Great “At Last” Calamity of 2012 (In Which a Lifetime of Sailboat-Launching Problems Occurred in Three Weeks) Friday, May 25 At boat storage place to pick up my 85-year-old mother’s boat, “At Last,” realized trailer lights were not working. Used hand signals for the four-mile trip. While setting up mast, realized that the pulley mechanism for adjusting the back stay had vanished,...

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