Clipped Wings


​My passport expired on May 31st. My passport lapsed once before, but other than that very brief time, I have had a passport since approximately 1986. I remember checking it’s validity when President George H.W. Bush tapped Dan Quayle to be his Vice President. Remember potatoe? I thought we could not get anyone stupider to run our government, and then the Republicans in 2015 said, “Hold my beer!”

In looking back at my twenty-one year old self, a mere child compared to the knowledge I hold now, it was epically short-sighted and judgmental, especially towards VP Quayle. That’s not to say that I’m no longer judgmental. I do try to be a bit more even-handed in my judgment calls and personal opinions on people in the public sphere. In looking back on Dan Quayle, he wasn’t a terrible Vice President. He was non-descript. I was just out of college when he and Bush were elected, and despite my working for the federal government I really didn’t have a whole lot of attention spent towards the upper levels of the Executive Branch.

That continued for quite some time. Despite each of the following Presidents’ difficulty and shortcomings, I slept well. I trusted what was in their hearts in spite of the disapproval of some policies by them and the Congresses that opposed them.

Now, we have a malignant narcissist running our country into the ground. I’m not going to get into the legalities or the politics of impeachment or armchair psychological diagnosis of dementia or any other possible cognitive or personality disorder. We do know that anything can happen because of the President’s lack of knowledge on many issues and his pettiness and impulsiveness and I live each day in fear for myself, but moreso for my children.

However, other than the security of an escapist sense of protection; a shield against the unknown and the rising anxiety, not only in me, but in the country, the expiration of my passport is a cryptic feeling; not bittersweet, not unambiguous, a little sad, a little motivating to get it renewed, a little feeling of captivity; of being a prisoner in my own land. I’m stuck.

Now, in a country the size of the United States it’s not as though I’m trapped in a 10×10 cell or even a two acre plot of land. I have the entire expanse of the width of the North American continent, so there is definitely a bit of privilege slipping out into my bluster.

We’re planning a family vacation, and with one child already on his own, I’m not sure how many more of these will be available to us. We really love spending time with our kids, and I miss them when they’re off with their friends. 

One of the places on our list of possible destinations is Toronto, which is closer to us than many of our states. 


I need a passport to get there, to cross the border into Canada. It has never felt more like a foreign country than it does now. I traveled to Canada many, many times as a child and young adult. We had (and continue to have) family there; my grandfather and his family were from Toronto and I have many cousins still living there. For a time, I had considered moving there to go to college, but that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. I certainly wouldn’t have needed a passport back then. Even though we are not planning on seeing family during this trip, Canada, and especially Toronto and Niagara Falls still feel like going home. While so many things change, the awe of being a tiny part of this foreign land is like breathing new air.

So here I sit, contemplating a haircut, a special outfit for my photo, and popping into the post office to get a renewal application, and then sending it in as soon as possible. I do know that whether or not I use my passport or if I just carry it in my purse, it is the freedom that it grants that lets my heart rest easy. And gives peace of mind. And perhaps, one day will lead to adventure again.

Crowdsourcing Travel


Earlier in the month our family was having some difficulty deciding on a vacation destination. Our original plan was to take nine to ten days, but our son couldn’t get the first day off (or approved yet) and a very close friend is getting married during the second weekend. Consequently, our time away was cut down to five days. That’s still a decent chunk of time, and we are very grateful to be able to take our kids somwhere special.

I made a Facebook post solicitating suggestions from my friends. I gave them three criteria:

1. Nothing south of the Mason-Dixon Line

2. Nothing west of the Mississippi

3. Able to enjoy ourselves for 5 days with no air travel.

I’m sharing what places were suggested along with some links to the area tourism and travel guides.

Fort Wayne, Indiana

     Visit Fort Wayne


     Visit Maine

Nashville and/or Memphis, Tennessee


     Memphis from Lonely Planet

     Memphis Travel – free map and guide

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
     Visit Pittsburgh

Ontario, Canada – Toronto and Niagara Falls (or Niagara Falls, NY)

     Toronto from Lonely Planet

     See Toronot Now

     Niagara Falls, Ontario

     Niagara Falls, NY

General Travel Info

Lonely Planet

50 – 11 – Five Dollars


When I was a child, we traveled to Canada often; more often than most kids living in NYC and on Long Island. Our grandfather was born and raised there, so we would visit his sisters and their families as well as going on a summer vacation before returning to school in the fall. Not every year, but almost every other.

Every visit always included dinner at Old Ed’s Warehouse in Toronto. We’d all meet there – aunts, uncles, cousins. It was a fancy restaurant, and men had to wear jackets and ties. It was a steakhouse, and it was misery for my brother, sister, and I. Steaks. No hamburgers, even less chance of cheeseburgers, and absolutely no ketchup. I can still see my sister’s face when we found that out.

My husband and I continued that tradition when we visited Toronto before we got married. We visited my Aunt Goldie, and had dinner at Old Ed’s. It was different since I was ten – they had several sections of the restaurant – steaks, pasta, casual dining, etc. No jackets either. They are closed now, but they were a place that was part of my childhood traditions.

When I was a kid, everyone would gather on the street outside the restaurant in front of Ed’s. You needed reservations. We parked and waited for the rest of the family to arrive.

My aunts, Goldie and Janet were my grandfather’s sisters. He also had a brother, but we didn’t see him very often. I can only remember one time distinctly. Both of them had husbands named Joe. We found this funny. Two Uncle Joe’s. We also had two Aunt Shirleys, two cousin Sharons and more Davids than you could shake a stick at.
When Uncle Joe (Goldie’s husband) arrived he took each of us kids aside, gave us $5 in Canadian money for our own and told us not to tell our parents.

About five minutes later, Uncle Joe (Janet’s husband) took each of us aside, gave us $5 in Canadian money for our own and told us not to tell our parents.

The two of them shared a look and a wink, and the three of us each got $10 to spend on our vacation. I don’t know if my parents ever knew. We were Gerry’s kids, and he was there so often he was a favorite of the family and in addition to all the other ways, we reaped the reward of having a great Dad.


The current $5 bill. Front. 2016


The current $5. Back. 2016