Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: On Making America Great Again.

Me and Ma Walking in Duluth

I grew up in a border town, which meant that in a mere half-hour we could be in Minnesota. Taking a drive to “The States” was something we did on a regular basis. The Old Man, Ma and I would take many a Sunday afternoon drive down to the US border just to wander around the Border Store with it’s creaky wooden floors, endless aisles of trinkets ‘n trash, and all kinds of cheap crap made of plastic.

There was also all the absolutely stupendous candy that you could only get in America. It wasn’t like today where you can get anything from anywhere no matter how far out in the boonies you live. Back then, you had to travel 40 miles south on highway 61 and cross the Pigeon River Bridge to sink you teeth into a wondrous and unforgettable Sugar Daddy, Chocolate BB Bat, Big Cherry Bar, Turkish Taffy, and the oh-so exotic wax bottle mini drinks. Good God they were good.

By the time I was a teenager we had many trips to Duluth, or even as far south as Minneapolis. Most trips were shopping excursions, which often included my older sister and at least one of her ubiquitous girlfriends. I have fond memories of the lions and tigers at the Duluth Zoo. Once the Dag Hammarskjold High School Band did a disastrous tour of Duluth High Schools. I played second clarinet. Enough said. I also made at least one trip to Duluth with my girlfriends Terry and Suzy, where we stayed in a cheap old hotel that stank of stale cigarettes and fried onions, and met two man-boys, one of which wore a toupee. I still blush when I think of it.

I loved American small towns, American boys, American music, American movie stars, American baseball, American shoes, American clothes, American potato chips, American candy and even the American flag because it had stars, which I also loved. Yes, I grew up coveting all things American. Everything about it seemed just a little bit better than what we had. I was proud to be a Canadian girl who loved America.

I remember where I was the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Mr. Ward made the announcement that fateful Friday afternoon just before our class was dismissed for the weekend. I remember how stunned and sad I was walking home from school that miserable overcast November day. I remember the excitement of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in the sultry summer of 1969. Decades later I would fictionalize the memory in my first novel, Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies. I remember where I was the morning of September 11 when the twin towers were brought down. The Today Show’s Katie Couric delivered the devastating news in real-time as we watched in horror as they crumbled to the ground in a cloud of smoke and ash. But like the Phoenix rising, I remember how deliriously happy I was when Barack Obama became President. The Americans had a great leader again, one worthy of our respect and admiration, like Kennedy.

And then I remember how bewildered I was almost a year ago when Donald Trump announced that he was officially running for president of the United States and that he was going to make America great again. How was that even possible? First of all, I thought America was already pretty great. I thought this had to be some kind of joke, another publicity stunt, and that he didn’t stand a chance. But now, like most of us, I know that this isn’t a joke. This is seriously scary shit. Come November, it is quite possible that we could all be saying President Trump. I choke on the words.

When I look back on the America of my youth, the America I loved to visit, the America I admired, and the America I thought would be such a cool place to live, I’m sad and overwhelmed with grief by what is unfolding on the other side of the border. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself angry, frustrated, dismayed, disturbed, troubled, worried, offended, frightened and quite frankly, disappointed, ashamed and embarrassed by all the bad behavior and empty rhetoric taking place in a country I so admired. It’s like finding out your favorite uncle wasn’t at all what you thought he was, that he actually deserved to be behind bars and not held in your high esteem.

But I haven’t lost all hope. There’s still a part of me that has faith in the wisdom and intelligence of the American people; that there are more who are good, kind and equitable than ignorant, hateful and prejudiced. There is still a part of me that believes that when the rubber hits the road, the America that I loved as a young Canadian girl is still there; that these great Americans will show the world that they are too smart to listen to the reprehensible rants of a carnival barker, to be influenced by fear mongering, and most importantly, to be duped by a spoiled charlatan with deep pockets, bad hair and a shallow devious mind.

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boo and Lorraine in a Duluth hotel room.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: A Writer’s Blessing.

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I walk my ginger cookie dog Rusty every morning in the hour just before dawn. It’s a sweet time. A gift from heaven.

Peaceful. Quiet. A writer’s blessing.

The hush before the alarms go off. The kettles plug in. Showers turn on. The Today Show announces another incomprehensible tragedy.

We walk the same circle route every morning. I’m a creature of habit. So is Rusty.

He likes to poop in the same spots. I carry white plastic grocery bags to scoop up after him. It’s all part of our daily dance.

This morning, when we got to the bend in the road, the glorious spot at the crest of the hill, I caught a glimpse of eternity.

The lights below flickered like halos as the world awoke.

At that moment I wanted to fly. Spread my arms. And take off. Rusty has floppy ears that were engineered for flight. I have big hair.

We can do this.

I stopped and looked out at the glorious sunrise and thought how lovely and endless these days are. Filled with the promise of forever.

But they aren’t of course.

I thought of my mother. How this particular orange of the sky would have inspired her to paint.

What a view. Oh God what a divine view. Tears came unexpectedly.

One day, if I’ve done this right, I will be the memory. I will be the gentle tear brushed from the cheek of one of my children.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter. Flying with the Dog.

IMG_4225In the years before my knees healed, and running was an impossible dream, I used to walk my dogs. First Andy, then the lovely Miss Coco. And most recently, my silly, endlessly amusing, ginger-cookie pal, Rusty.

With the world outside muted and my family resting serenely in the arms of Morpheus, there we were. Just a woman and her dog. In the ephemeral hour just before dawn.

It was a sweet time. A gift straight out of heaven. Peaceful. Quiet. Undisturbed. A writer’s blessing.

It was a time cherished. Held dear. Revered and coveted. The whispered hush before the busyness of the day began. Before E’s alarm went off.  The kettle plugged in. Shower turned on. Before the Today Show announced another incomprehensible tragedy.

We walked the same circle route every morning. At that hour, I was a creature of habit. So were my dogs. But Rusty, in particular, was painfully predictable. You could bet money on him.

He sniffed every blade of grass. Peed on every shrub. Squatted and pooped in all the same spots. I carried a fistful of white plastic grocery bags to scoop up after him. It was all part of our daily dance. I loved every minute of it.

On one of the last mornings that Rusty and I walked together, I had a bittersweet and profound experience.  When we got to the bend in the road, the glorious spot at the crest of the hill, I caught a glimpse of eternity.

The lights below flickered like halos as the world awoke.

At that moment I wanted to fly. Spread my arms. And take off. Rusty has floppy ears that were engineered for flight. I have big hair.

We can do this, I thought.

I stopped and looked out at the sublime sunrise and thought how lovely and endless these days were. Filled with the promise of forever.

But they aren’t of course.

I thought of my mother. My dear Ma. And how this breathtaking orange colored sky would have inspired her to paint.

What a view. Oh God, what a divine view. Tears came unexpectedly.

One day, if I’ve done this right, I will be the memory. I will be the gentle tear brushed from the cheek of one of my children.