Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Wenatchee, Washington. I published When Glad Becomes Sad in 2009. My second book, Alive Again, was published in March of 2015. Both are self-help books. I am currently working on a third book, this time a work of fiction.

10 Things About Winnipeg

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10 Things About Winnipeg

The other day one of my friends challenged me to write a blog post about 10 things I miss about my hometown. So here goes.

Number 1 is definitely my son Kyle. It’s been over a decade since we’ve even lived in the same country, never mind the same city.

Number 2 is my friends. One of my friends dates all the way back to middle school and the others are friends for twenty years plus.

Number 3 is the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery. I like to go there in person rather than virtually.

Number 4 is West Portage Y. Lots of good times with friends in aquafit classes.

Number 5 is The English Garden at Assiniboine Park.

Number 6 is food. Moussaka at Niko’s, Sorrento’s Salad and burgers at V J’s.

Number 7 is going to fall suppers in the rural areas.

Number 8 is the Mennonite thrift stores, auctions and flea markets I used to frequent when I had my EBay business.

Number 9 is The Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

I really tried to think of one more but honestly couldn’t. There are other restaurants and parks but I really wouldn’t put them in my top ten. I was especially disappointed at how The Forks has deteriorated and has become such a dangerous place. I prefer to do my shopping in the USA and have no favorite places to shop left in Winnipeg. I guess I’ve been traveling too much and have been to so many new and exciting places.

So there you have it——nine things but not quite ten.

Happy Birthday Kyle

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Happy Birthday Kyle

I haven’t embarrassed any of my kids in a blog post in quite a while so I think I’m due. Tomorrow is my son Kyle’s birthday.

It’s also Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. He used to ask me to write him notes to school to get out early so he could watch football. Keep in mind that although we lived in Canada, he seriously followed the NFL in the USA.

His team? The San Francisco 49ers. His hero? Joe Montana. I think he was 11 or 12 when he blew an entire declaration on a Joe Montana rookie card. Over the years he has added to his collection and his man cave is resplendent in 49er colors from the carpeting to the furniture, much of it authentic and licensed.

No idea where the years have gone. It seems like just yesterday he was a two year old proclaiming “Self Did It.” He was always very independent even back then. Then came the bowling years and the drummer years. And now Kyle is a CPA and a partner in his firm. Needless to say, I am extremely proud of my son.

The usual phone call from Mexico tomorrow will have to suffice. I miss the days when we both lived in the same home or city and I could give him a birthday greeting in person.

Happy Birthday Kyle! Love you lots!

Experiences Versus Things

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Experiences Versus Things

I’m really enjoying the course I’m taking from Yale University right now. It’s one of the best ones I’ve taken in a long time. This week the discussion has centered around experiences versus things and how they affect happiness. Some interesting strategies have been presented and I’ve already been implementing some of them. The weekly assignments are challenging and I actually look forward to the hours I spend both inside and outside of class while taking this course.

Buen Fin is this weekend in Mexico. It’s a time when I avoid the stores. There are way too many people cramming the aisles in search of bargains. This is Mexico’s version of Black Friday. I’m not interested in fighting crowds when I shop. I much prefer a more leisurely experience. Yes. I know. I can shop online. But I’m old school. I still prefer the hands on and in person experience. And that is why it took me two years to replace my laptop that bit the dust when Covid first hit.

Monday is also Revolution Day here in Mexico. It’s actually a government holiday and not a religious one. Although the date is really November 20th, it’s being celebrated on Monday the 21st to make it a long weekend. Mexicans are big on their history. In my teaching days my students would always have essays to write about this day. Diaz had been president for thirty-five years. In the presidential election of 1910, a wealthy landowner named Madero opposed Diaz. Diaz had Madero thrown in jail. However Madero escaped from jail and issued the Plan of San Luis Potosi, declaring himself as president and nullifying the election. Madero encouraged Mexicans to rise up against Diaz. This was the start of the Mexican Revolution.

Other news here in Aguascalientes this week. A helicopter crashed in Jesus Maria killing five people. Luckily the pilot was able to bring it down in a vacant lot. However the state security minister was one of the five who died. This tragedy is on the heels of a Pemex oil truck that failed to beat the train. After the train hit the truck, it wound up crashing into an overpass destroying a major traffic artery in the city, as well as setting several homes on fire.

Choose experiences over things. Share them with others. Watch your happiness soar.

Have a great Sunday!

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Buzz Words

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Buzz Words

The buzz words for this decade are “stay safe.” The ones I heard all the time in the last decade were “be aware.”

In Mexico I live alone, I take long walks alone and I often travel alone, very different from my life back in Washington. But in both places the above buzz words are always on my mind.

After having limited mobility prior to two knee replacement surgeries, I am extremely grateful to be able to take long walks every day. And I am very aware of my surroundings regardless of where I am. And I notice very different things.

Here in Aguascalientes, despite the fact that I live in a lower income neighborhood close to Centro (downtown), I am very comfortable walking the streets day and night. There are always people out walking. I’ve even grown accustomed to seeing young children out at night alone. Some of the shops have crazy hours too. There’s a dentist on my corner who is often there at ten at night. A hairdresser a block away is often cutting hair at midnight. Taco stands are open until the wee hours. And I think nothing of going out to the corner tienda at midnight if I crave a pinguino.

This past summer when I was in Winnipeg I stayed with a friend who lived downtown. Winnipeg can best be described as an urban reserve and is not a city I’d want to raise my kids in today. The downtown area is disgusting and filled with vacant office buildings. There is not a department store or a grocery store in sight. But the panhandlers are definitely out there in abundance. The streets are deserted at night except for the aboriginals who can be seen defecating or urinating on the sidewalks just as they do in the daytime.

When I walk in East Wenatchee I always see people out with their dogs. As I walk by the middle school I see kids out on the track. Further along by the high school I see the football team at practice. And of course there are always lovely gardens and trees as I stroll past the houses as I walk up and down the hills.

However in the blink of an eye things can change. I’ve had “interesting ” experiences in all three countries that I do not intend to ever write about. After all, we are never in control of everything.

Stay safe and be aware, wherever you are.

Tienguis

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Tienguis

One of the things I really enjoy is strolling through the tienguis on my street on Thursdays. Basically this is like a street flea market. It has a real mixture of both new and used items. And of course there is food.

I’ll start with food. This week there were three different areas where food was being cooked. Two of the areas had the usual tacos and tortas. The third one appeared quite popular. I have no idea what it was but it was some deep fried unhealthy looking I’m not sure what. As wonderful as the aroma of meat and onions is, I don’t eat at the tienguis.

But I do pick up my weekly supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition to the usual broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, onions and potatoes, I was excited to find mushrooms. Fruit this week was watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe and apples. And I must admit I buy other fruits and vegetables whose names I don’t know in Spanish or English but I do know how to prepare them.

Now for the non-food items. This is where I really get to practice my Spanish vocabulary. There are always several people selling used tools, cell phones and all types of other technology. One guy had a Dell laptop. He told me it didn’t work but if I went to the plaza de technoligia, he was sure someone there could fix it. A tienguis isn’t where I’d go computer shopping but apparently some people do. I’ll have to check back this week and see if he actually sold it.

Lots of jewelry and toys, new and old. And interesting people to talk to who are selling these items. Of course these items in the used category are often interspersed with tools and books, all laid out on a blanket.

Perfumes, creams and lotions. New and used here too. Housewares including BetterWare. Toiletries and cosmetics. Paper goods. Candy. Furniture. Incense. Wallets. Purses.

And then there are the clothes and shoes. Racks of new and used. Great places to practice asking for sizes and colors. Amazing how a new blouse goes from 150 pesos down to 95 with a teensie bit of negotiation. The sellers expect you to bargain and they’re disappointed if you don’t.

The tienguis is like going to garage sales, except you don’t have to drive around and fight for parking spaces. You just stroll leisurely down the street. Much more convenient.

Miercoles

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Miercoles

The movies have now gone from murdering cheerleaders to selling babies. Tell me again why I watch them late at night and then sleep fitfully. But my goal is to watch five movies in Spanish a week in order to hopefully improve my comprehension of the language.

Thank you to my computer guru Laura for once again coming to the rescue. Like I’m not having problems enough adjusting to Windows 11, my taskbar disappeared last night. Of course she instantly found a link and solved my problem. While I love technology it also scares me. But my WIP is safely backed up every night onto not one but two external hard drives.

The weather here is still hot. Many of my friends back in the USA and in Canada are now dealing with that fluffy white stuff and plummeting temperatures. So I won’t complain too loudly that I’m not walking as much as I’d like to right now.

Apparently I can no longer call myself a nomad. I was talking to a friend and he remarked that I’ve gotten into a familiar pattern of dividing my time between Aguascalientes and the upper valley in Washington. And as Christina and Danny often remind me, I now have my forever home in East Wenatchee.

Two events are coming up in Mexico this month. Revolution Day is an official government holiday on November 20th. But the big one is Buen Fin, the Mexican equivalent of Black Friday in the USA. It goes from November 18th-21st.

My Uber awaits and I’m off to Ags Ladies to meet up with my friends. Today is lunch rather than breakfast.

Happy Humpday!

Changes

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Changes

Did you set your clock back last night? Here in Mexico we did it last week. It was bad enough losing two hours when I got here, but now for one week I had to remember who was one hour back or one hour ahead instead of the usual two when I phoned friends up north. Glad that’s over with.

Dia de las muertos has come and gone for another year. The Catrinas have been tucked away and the vendors are nowhere in sight. Some of the bakeries still have pan de los muertos but that’s about it. The parade on Wednesday officially ended the celebrations.

I met friends for a drink last night on Carranzas. That street is always busy. There are lots of bars, coffee shops and restaurants as well as a variety of other shops. It’s a great place for people-watching and practicing my Spanish as I meander in and out of the shops.

I’m now watching Lifetime movies again in an effort to improve my Spanish. The odd one I’ve seen in English before but most are new so it’s a challenge. Some of them are pretty bizarre. I watched one the other night that was about murdering cheerleaders, most conducive to nightmares if there were any teens out there watching.

Apparently I’m not the only one doing any traveling. My driver’s license has been on the move since September when it was sent to me from Winnipeg. It never did arrive in East Wenatchee and has surfaced once again in Winnipeg this week. I’ve told my son to keep it there as sending it here to Mexico is an exercise in futility. I mean, it couldn’t even make it to East Wenatchee so I don’t expect that it would ever find its way to Aguascalientes. Besides, I’m enjoying using my Mexican Costco card as photo ID.

My friends back home tell me the smoke has cleared and the temperatures have cooled. They’ve even had some snow. It’s still in the 80s here and I’m looking forward to it cooling off a little. Of course, they can keep that white stuff up north. I know some of my Mexican friends are excited about snow but I keep telling them I’d rather watch it on the videos my friends put on Facebook than to actually be there and have to contend with it. That one winter in Washington during Covid was more than enough for me.

Speaking of Covid, there aren’t nearly as many masks on the streets here now as there were when I first arrived a month ago. And the shops that had signs up requiring masks are now letting people in without masks although some still have signs up. Yours truly was a bit of a rebel and totally disregarded the signs anyways.

Alexa’s joke today. A grasshopper hops into a bar. The bartender says, “I’m going to serve you a drink named after you.” The grasshopper responds,” You have a drink named ‘Steve’?”

Happy Sunday!

Commune, Coursera and Duolingo

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Commune, Coursera and Duolingo

I’m back in Mexico and that means I’m back on line taking courses again. There are so many of them out there and it’s hard to choose. But here are the three I’m doing now.

Duolingo. I’ve been doing this one for years now to improve my Spanish. When I go up north for a few months every year I always take a break from Duolingo. But seeing as I’m the only gringa in my neighborhood, I really need my Spanish. I have friends learning other languages on this site, but for now I’m quite content with Spanish only.

Commune. This is a new one to me. There are a variety of guest speakers on this site primarily geared toward women. Breathing, body image and yoga have shown up in the first couple of days. So far it’s been interesting. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll sign on for the full course. I’ll make that decision once the free trial ends.

Coursera. I’ve taken several courses on this site in the past. While I’m mainly interested in psychology, I have taken other courses in writing, philosophy, anthropology and sociology. Right now I’m taking a course from Yale called The Science of Well Being. I did the preliminary survey and discovered that I’m not as happy as I thought I was. Interesting. Once the course ends I get to do the survey again and then compare the results with the preliminary one.

So this is what I’m doing at the moment in my quest for learning. I highly recommend taking courses online. As a bonus, when you audit there are no tuition fees and there is no exam stress. Instead it’s possible to learn at your leisure. And at this stage of my life, this is a great way to keep on learning from the comfort of my home.

Festival Cultural De Calaveras

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Festival Cultural De Calaveras

Halloween was always a favorite day. As a child I loved to hit the streets with my friends and go trick or treating. We knew who made the best popcorn balls and caramel apples.

Flash ahead a generation to when I had kids. The times changed. An adult always went out with the kids as the streets were not as safe as they were when I was growing up. And forget the homemade treats. Instead I carefully checked their candy for anything suspicious.

And now it’s 2022. My granddaughter in Kelowna put on her costume the other day when we did a video call. She looked adorable in her witch costume and is excited about the upcoming party at her daycare. I told my daughter to look for a Light The Night at a church. I was in Leavenworth one year and volunteered at this event. Very family oriented and safe.

But here in Aguascalientes Halloween isn’t what’s on my mind. We celebrate Day of the Dead here and it’s one of my favorite times here in Mexico. Although November 2nd is the most popular day to party in the cemeteries with the spirits, the celebrations are well underway in this city. The party started October 28th.

There are different venues throughout the city featuring live music and a multitude of vendors, especially in the food area. I wandered down to Centro on Friday where altars honoring the dead and displays featuring catrinas were being set up. Storefronts and restaurants were colorfully decorated. There was a festive air everywhere.

Saturday night near the Jardin de San Marcos there were dancers and people on stilts dressed up in colorful Day of the Dead garb. And of course there was music. As I wandered passed the bars, I found a multitude of vendors selling items from jewelry to food and everything in between. There was also a stage set up and live music.

My destination tonight is back to Centro and along Carranzas. So much to see and only a few days to take it all in.

It’s Humpday Again

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It’s Humpday Again

My friends in Washington are telling me how smoky it still is there. My friends in Puerto Vallarta are telling me how wet it is there after Hurricane Roslyn hit. Here in Aguascalientes the air is clear and it’s sunny and hot.

I went for a walk to the pharmacy on Monday. I picked up six months worth of blood pressure medication for under $10. Yes, it’s exactly what I get when I’m in Wenatchee. But it’s nowhere near as expensive. It really makes you think about the pharmaceutical industry. The markup is ridiculously high.

Day of the Dead is coming up next week. Marigolds are everywhere. I always loved marigolds even when I was a child. My dad was quite the gardener back then but he always made sure there was a special space for my marigolds. When I was older and had my own garden, my marigolds always had a prominent place.

I was saddened to learn that one of my friends in Winnipeg passed away. We were both working towards our accounting certifications back in the early 90s when we first met. She struggled with several health issues and spent the last few years in a personal care home.

I finally switched over to my Mexican phone chip yesterday. It’s usually one of the first things I do but it somehow got put on the backburner this time around. So my friends up north….you’ve been warned that when you see the country code 52 it’s me. I’m not a scammer or a telemarketer.

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!