Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Leavenworth, 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.

Hmmmm……..

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Hmmmm……..

The election is over but it’s not over. The virus didn’t disappear. The land borders are still closed. You can go into a store to buy weed and booze but you can’t go into a store to buy a toy for your kid.

I used to feel like I was living in the twilight zone. But that doesn’t even describe it anymore. My body is confused because I’m not in Mexico. Joints tend to stiffen up in colder climates. My brain is scrambling to adjust to a completely different lifestyle that seems to keep changing every day.

I get it. Life will never go back to what it once was. I need to adapt. But just how can I possibly adapt when change seems to be my new daily routine?

Governments are presenting us with confusing and ambiguous rules to follow. The new restrictions are being interpreted differently in every town and county in this country. It kind of reminds me of the way INM functions in different areas in Mexico.

I’m Canadian. But right now I’m glad I’m not in Canada. Things are just as complicated up there and I already have too many complications in my life and don’t need any more. Finding somewhere to quarantine and to live is just a tad overwhelming to me at the moment.

I had actually hoped to be in Winnipeg right now. My son turns 40 this week and I really wanted to be with him. He is deeply disappointed that he won’t be celebrating in Vegas as he had originally planned. It has also been more than ten years since I’ve been with him on his birthday.

Thanksgiving is coming up this week. Most people I know are forgoing the large family dinners and the usual travel for virtual Thanksgiving celebrations.

I for one won’t be breathing a big sigh of relief when 2020 finally ends. Who knows what lies ahead in 2021? I’m not a pessimist but right now I’m struggling to be optimistic about the future.

Focussing completely on the present seems to be the healthiest choice.

Who’s with me?

Here We Go Again

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Here We Go Again

Washington state has been shut down….. again. The first time was back in the spring while I was still in Mexico. The governor here was recently reelected and he lost no time on imposing restrictions.

Supposedly these will be in effect for four weeks. Consequently my life group won’t be meeting and the exercise classes have been cancelled. The library had just reopened a little over a week ago and now it’s closed again, as are gyms and theaters. Bars and restaurants are closed for dine in. It’s actually very similar to what I experienced in Mexico. Only the weather is different.

The big contraversy here is the restrictions imposed on the churches. Fewer people are allowed in the building due to physical distancing and masks must be worn. However singing and a band have now been added to the no-no list. Church goers are not happy.

Thanksgiving is next week. It promises to be a very subdued celebration. Zoom will be busy that day as many families have chosen not to gather in person.

And Christmas is just around the corner………

Winter White

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Winter White

This was the view from my bedroom window earlier in the week. There was none of that white stuff in sight.

And then came Friday the 13th. The view changed drastically.

In all honesty, it’s a beautiful picture postcard out there today. First snowfalls are always pretty. And here in Washington the mountains are an amazing backdrop unlike the flat Canadian prairies where I come from. As the temperature rises, the snowfall has changed to rainfall, washing away the snow on the ground.

My last non-Mexico winter was in Winnipeg in 2009, although I did escape to Cuba for a bit of a reprieve. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision spending a winter in Washington. But I am now.

Memoirs On My Mind

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Memoirs On My Mind

On February 9th, 1977 I lost my best friend, my hero, my father. More than 43 years have gone by but in some ways it seems like yesterday.

I was so young when he died and there is so much more that I wish I knew about him. Although we were very close, because he left me so long ago, there are questions that have surfaced over the years as I have grown.

My dad never met his grandchildren. They came along years later. It’s sad that he missed out on the opportunity to be a grandparent. And it’s also sad that my children never had a loving grandfather in their lives.

One of my writing projects involves writing my memoirs for my granddaughter. Madeline is 2-1/2 now and it will be years until she will read and understand the significance of these stories. Yet it is important to me that this history be recorded. Indeed my own daughter is not aware of some of these memories.

I must admit that compiling these memories at times is overwhelming. How much information is too much information? And wow is some of it emotionally draining for someone who practices mindfulness on a daily basis to avoid unnecessary sadness and anxiety.

I had hoped to attend another memoir writing class this year while in Leavenworth. Due to Covid-19 there is no class. And as I continue to work on my memoirs, I wonder just how much Covid-19 will impact my writing. Only time will tell.

Sitting By The Fire

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Sitting By The Fire

I was out this morning and am quite content to stay in this afternoon. It’s a dreary, rainy day and a perfect time to sit by the fire as I wait for the dryer to do its magic. Oh how I miss my lavenderia in Las Flores! It was so nice to drop off the dirty clothes in the morning and pick up neatly folded and freshly laundered clothes later in the day.

But back to the fire. Have you ever done a flame meditation? Very relaxing. And I find my mind wandering to fire pits and other fireplaces and conjuring up memories of happy times.

As a young child I have vivid recollections of cooking hot dogs over a fire. The venue was a fireplace in the rec room. I can still envision my Uncle Sam presiding to ensure that no-one burned themselves or burned the house down for that matter.

I remember campfires at Bnai Brith Camp and Camp Kinnaird in Lake of the Woods. Amazing that we never burned the woods down although sparks from the flames often attacked us.

When my kids were young we had a wood burning fireplace in the family room. They delighted in blackening hot dogs and toasting marshmallows. The challenge was keeping the dog away from the flames. No need to have his fur singed.

Of course there was that one time when the fireplace backed up and thick, black smoke quickly filled the house. But the fire department had those amazing fans that blew it all out in minutes.

We had a fire pit in our backyard in Oak Bluff. It was a popular place for my kids and their friends. I especially liked to sit by the fire in the fall. Once winter set in it was just too bitterly cold.

The gas fireplace soon became a favorite of mine. Flip a switch, no mess and no sparks. Instant ambience!

The featured photo in this post is an electric fireplace in the living room in Leavenworth. It doesn’t throw off heat like the gas one, but it’s instant on with the press of a button.

Sitting by the fire……..

Something Different

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Something Different

This post is not about COVID-19 or Trump. I want to forget those for a moment and write about something completely different.

Monday night I went to a baby shower. I can’t remember the last time I went to one but I know it’s been years. It was such fun to see all the cute items for this precious new baby.

Yesterday was our exercise get together. We have now grown to five from three. My body really appreciates this as the colder weather has a tendency to stiffen up the joints.

Usually at this time of year, if I’m not already back in Mexico already, I’m shopping the summer clearance sales for clothes. Instead last week my purchases included boots, a toque, lined gloves and a cozy pullover sweater.

Although many of the trees have lost their leaves, there are still many showing off their glorious hues of red and orange. The recent rain has kept them hydrated.

While I turn to Duolingo every day and text in Spanish to some friends, I must admit I’m enjoying watching movies in English again. But I did go to my favorite Mexican restaurant last week and I always get to use my Spanish there.

I’m really enjoying my new tablet and am in the process of buying a new computer. However I became so reliant on technology is beyond me. It’s sure a different world.

And then there are the video calls. My granddaughter Madeline in Canada turns three in February and thinks her grandma lives in a phone. My grandson Juan Carlos in Culiacán is eleven and we converse in English regularly. Now if only I could convince my son in Canada to do video calls.

Today is another shopping trip to Wenatchee. More warm clothes for winter are very much needed. Somehow my usual wardrobe of capris and tank tops are not appropriate attire here in Leavenworth at this time of year.

The best part of being here is that I’m having a great time renewing friendships, meeting new people and making memories. My extended family just keeps on expanding. Life is more than good.

To Trump Or Not To Trump

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To Trump Or Not To Trump

To Trump Or Not To Trump. That is the question. My sincerest apologies to William Shakespeare.

I am a Canadian. I am not an American citizen. Although I spend a considerable amount of time in the USA, I am a visitor here and have absolutely no affiliation with any political party in this country. I intentionally distance myself from politics.

I was here in Washington state when Trump was elected back in 2016. The atmosphere today in 2020 is significantly different from that in the last election. Families have been torn apart. Animosity between neighbors is clearly visible. Placards in yards have been vandalized and even stolen. Unwelcome graffiti with the letters BLM has arrived in town.

I have close friends who are staunch Trumpers. To them Donald Trump is a paragon of virtue. He is a true Christian because he is pro-life. He has done wonders for the economy of this country. He has a stellar reputation when it comes to international relations. He puts the citizens of this country first and foremost when deliberating policies such as healthcare and immigration. When it comes to the handling of the pandemic they are in total agreement that Covid-19 is nothing more than a mere flu bug and that is no reason to shut down an entire economy. They angrily claim that their rights have been violated when asked to wear masks or abide by restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the virus. They are also convinced that should Trump not be reelected, this country is doomed.

I also have close friends who are anti-Trumpers. They are in total opposition to what the Trumpers believe. They view Trump and his followers as a cult. They say that these followers have been brainwashed and that there are no resources available to reprogram these lost souls. They feel that Biden is the only key to unlock the door that will restore this country to the formidable world power that it once was before Trump incited the beginnings of a civil war. They want this immoral monster stopped in his tracks. They have completely lost faith and trust in their president. They are fed up with his lies and empty promises.

As I stated above, I have no political affiliation. I have merely put into written words what has been voiced to me by friends. What I do see is a nation divided as well as a dangerously high level of civil unrest. The country as a whole has been weakened and brought to its knees. Unfortunately I also see other countries in the world rejoicing that the USA has now found itself in this predicament.

Election day is almost upon us. Now more than ever before is a time for much needed prayer.

Boots Gloves And Hat

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Boots Gloves And Hat

Friday’s snowfall was pretty to watch from inside. However I didn’t venture out until it began to melt the next day.

Today I am headed to Wenatchee to do some shopping. Seeing as I’m here for the winter, I am in search of the appropriate clothing.

Sandals hidden away at the back of my closet, the first item on my agenda is boots. The last time I wore winter boots was a decade ago. Not looking forward to it.

Gloves and a hat are the next priority. My friends assure me it doesn’t get as cold as the Canadian prairies. I hope they’re right.

I actually got a ski jacket the first year I came here. But I hightailed it back to Mexico at the first hint of snow in 2016 so I haven’t had much use for it until now.

There may be a few other interesting items further along the line, such as bear spray. Apparently the bears are hungry and adore coming into town in search of food.

I see deer around frequently, but they’re relatively harmless. Cougar and coyote sightings are still common. I sincerely hope the rattlesnakes have disappeared for the winter.

And speaking of wildlife, election fever is high here. But I’ll save that for another post.

It’s Been Years

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It’s Been Years

There’s been snow up in the mountains for days now.

But yesterday was the first snowfall here in Leavenworth. And it’s already beginning to melt.

In another lifetime I would take the change of seasons in stride. Winters on the Canadian prairies were harsh. Plunging temperatures and high windchills were the norm. Warming up even a little meant icy roads and treacherous sidewalks frequently hidden by a fine dusting of snow.

Covid-19 has turned my world upside-down. Last year on this date I flew into Guadalajara en route to Aguascalientes. I eagerly looked forward to my usual six months of summer rather than winter.

Six months turned into eleven before I was able to leave Mexico and return to Washington State. The joys of being Canadian and finding travel health insurance to be in the USA during a pandemic!

But I did it and I’m here. I still don’t know how long I’ll be here. My plan to return to Canada is on the backburner for now. Quarantine has to disappear and Winnipeg has to reopen it’s airport to international flights. And don’t even get me started when it comes to the apps the government wants me to put on my phone.

I miss you Mexico and I pray for you. The precarious state of healthcare there more than intimidates me. What little resources still available should be reserved for the citizens of your own country.

New Normal Not Normal

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New Normal Not Normal

A few friends getting together to exercise. That was my experience this morning. Very different from teaching structured fitness classes, but wonderful just the same.

Last night my small group from church got together to converse and pray. It’s my fifth year with this group and I think of them all as family.

I get together with other friends and we go for walks or go to restaurants. In downtown Leavenworth Front Street is closed to vehicular traffic. Tables for outdoor dining line the street instead.

The library is reopening in a couple of weeks. I’ve missed book club and craft activities and wonder when these will resume.

The senior center is still closed. I miss lunches with friends and volunteering in the kitchen. I miss our bridge games and our music nights.

Church has now gone back to two services instead of one to accommodate more people. Masks and physical distancing are mandatory. Seats must be reserved online.

Tree lighting event has been cancelled although the trees will be lit up as usual during the holiday season. Village Voices will not be performing at any concerts.

With Octoberfest cancelled the last few weekends have been relatively quiet here in Leavenworth. There are also no big events planned for Halloween.

The new normal does not feel normal at all.