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.

Musical Memories

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Musical Memories

My housemate Clairesse is a very talented violinist and vocalist. She also comes from a very musical family where jam sessions were common.

Tonight she was playing a variety of music that triggered some memories. I’ll begin with the ones pertaining to the violin.

I had an uncle who played in The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra back when I was really young. Then there was the other extreme. I had an older brother who attempted to play but I used to run outside to play when he practiced because I couldn’t stand the screeching sound. And I put my foot down when it was suggested that I learn to play the violin. No way!

Clairesse played everything from Home On The Range to The Battle Hymn Of The Republic to the Wabash Cannonball. She plays jigs, waltzes and hymns.

Home On The Range reminded me of a high school boyfriend who played guitar. We used to hang out with friends at a park and this song was always a favorite.

Battle Hymn reminds me of attending 9/11 memorial services. And then a swarm of other songs such as The Marine’s Hymn and God Bless America filled my head.

It’s interesting how I seem to associate music with the events in my life. My teenage years in the 60s were filled with the British Invasion. I attended tons of concerts back then. Some of the most memorable were The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Who, The Hollies, Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy and The Dave Clark Five. Unfortunately The Beatles never came to Winnipeg.

Lots of American talent came to Winnipeg too. Other memorable concerts I attended included The Beach Boys, Paul Revere And The Raiders, Sonny and Cher, Carly Simon, Neil Diamond, and The Monkees.

Yes, the 60s was one of my favorite decades. Was it one of yours?

Calmer Now

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Calmer Now

The Red Apple Fire was brought under control. But it’s sad to see the blackened hillsides.

We drove to Entiat the other night when the highway reopened. The fires had burned right down to the road and it was all black.

I opted to take more peaceful photos when we got to the camp. This tree was heavy with apricots just begging to be picked.

I also enjoyed some quiet time by the water.

One of the highlights of my summers here is the Leavenworth Summer Theater production of The Sound of Music. The venue is the amphitheater up in the hills. Maria actually walks through the surrounding woods in the opening scene. The Von Trapp family is up on a precipice in the final scene. The performance on Friday night was amazing and I’m so incredibly happy that I was still here to see it.

Yes, I’m planning to leave here shortly. I wish I could stay longer but it’s been ten months already and I’m anxious to see my family in Canada now that the ridiculous hotel quarantine has been lifted for fully vaccinated Canadians.

July 21 is the day when Canada will make an official statement regarding reopening borders. I’m also waiting to hear if Winnipeg will once again be an international airport. Too many rumors out there and I want to read it in black and white.

Wildfire Level 3 Evacuate Now

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Wildfire Level 3 Evacuate Now

As I mentioned in my last post, wildfire season is well underway here in Washington state. And a brush fire has escalated to a Level 3 Evacuate Now two towns over in Monitor.

The alert came over my phone last night. The winds are blowing the fire towards Wenatchee. It’s a pretty scarey situation.

Around here being prepared is always a good idea. My to go bag is always packed in my closet. Important documents, passport, jewelry, medication, devices and other valuables that will be difficult to replace. I always have a similar bag packed when I’m in Mexico. When I lived in Tlaquepaque we were evacuated once in the middle of the night due to a gas leak.

Friends on Facebook reported power outages near Monitor. This is one nasty fire. I pray that the firefighters are able to get it under control and that no one will be hurt.

Today’s lunch plans in Cashmere may have to be relocated to Leavenworth. It depends on what the smoke level is like. Cashmere is quite close to Monitor.

My friends in Mexico are posting videos of the torrential rains they are experiencing. I wish some of that moisture could be sent up here. Dry, hot temperatures in the 100s lost their charm quite a while ago.

We need rain. No lightning to cause more fires, just rain.

Wildfires and Crashes

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Wildfires and Crashes

It’s been a hot and dry July so far. Wildfire season is upon us here in Washington state. There isn’t much smoke blowing in to Leavenworth, but a fire near the airport in Wenatchee caused some people to be evacuated.

In Manitoba I enjoyed the thunderstorms at night after the heat during the day. But here the lightning is often responsible for sparking fires. Thunderstorms are dreaded.

Chelan County has a fireworks ban in place. Over in Wenatchee fireworks were set off on the 4th but no-one was allowed into the park. Watching from a distance was the norm this year.

Two car crashes in the news this weekend. One near Tumwater resulted in a fatality. The other near Stevens Pass tied up traffic for hours. Too many reckless drivers out there in a hurry to get through the mountain passes.

On the prairies in Canada it’s a different story. A flat terrain and straight roads often lull drivers to sleep. Of course speed and intoxicated drivers just add to the mix, regardless of where you live.

Wildfire and crash season is well underway.

Three Wonderful Things

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Three Wonderful Things

Yesterday was a great day. The 100 degree temperature didn’t even phase me. And three wonderful things happened that day. You may not consider them so wonderful, but to me they were.

I was delighted to find the absolutely perfect backpack I’ve been looking for. I use a backpack as carry-on when I travel as it leaves my hands free. Because I travel internationally often, I carry way too many documents with me, many in three languages. Over the years, this collection has grown, most recently due to the extended stays in two foreign countries as a result of the pandemic. Throw in a laptop, jewelry, medication and a few books and it fills up quickly. I have outgrown my old backpack.

Wonderful thing number two was going to a theater to see a movie rather than watching a movie on Netflix. The big screen, the suuround sound and no masks! Just like BC….Before Covid. In The Heights is a movie I would highly recommend if you enjoy music and dancing.

Wonderful thing number three was the most incredible of the day. Back in March I had retained an attorney to apply for an extended stay due to the Covid situation. My attorney advised that he had received the official approval from Immigration. What a relief!

My mom always used to say that good things happened in threes. That sure was true yesterday.

Wenatchee Valley Museum

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Wenatchee Valley Museum

With temperatures in the 100s the past few days, indoor activities have been the norm. Walmart and Apple Annie’s Antiques were a welcome respite earlier in the week, but Friday appealed as a museum day.

Although I’ve been here several times over the years, on this visit my friend Joyce was with me and she had never been to this museum before. So I got to play tour guide.

We went up to the second floor and began in the train area. I never tire of watching the model train traverse over the bridges and through the tunnels.

The room honoring Pangborn has always been one of my favorites. The history of his overseas flights is depicted on the walls and I adore the pilot upside-down in his aircraft mounted on the ceiling.

Here are a few pics I took in some of the other display rooms. It was interesting to read the descriptions posted on the walls with details of the first inhabitants and artifacts that had been unearthed.

We also explored another area where unfortunately photography is prohibited. Displays here included an old nurse’s uniform, a medical examing room, a general store and information about the history of East Wenatchee.

We then headed down to the main floor. To my delight pieces of the Chihuly glass were on display.

The current feature on the main floor was the toy theme.

Children’s summer programs were underway making the apple area unavailable. Another time.

We also checked out the gift shop. A wide variety of items including jewelry, books, paper dolls and so much more can be found here.

BTW…..If you’re vaccinated you don’t need masks!

Hump Day Rant Day

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Hump Day Rant Day

Today is the last day in June. And I’m still in the USA and haven’t made it back to Canada yet. July 5th is on the horizon. Perhaps Canada’s stance on the border will be more clearly stated. Or not. It’s been pretty ambiguous up until now.

The way I see it Americans are being discriminated against. Fully vaccinated with Pfizer, as a Canadian I will finally be able to return without the ridiculous cash grab quarantine. However my friends here in the USA who have had the same vaccine are not extended that privilege.

While Covid had the potential to cause a world war, Trudeau’s stubbornness is inciting rebellions among Canadians as well as Americans. Never in history has Canada been so divided. Patriotism is all but dead.

When I finally do return to Canada I know that I will be sacrificing a lot. I will not have the freedom I have here in the USA. I will not enjoy the same quality of life I have here. And I will be counting the days until I can return to Aguascalientes for the winter.

But I want to hug my kids. I want my granddaughter to know that I am a real person and don’t just live in a phone where we see each other on video calls.

Highs and Lows

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Highs and Lows

My amazing train trip has come to an end. It appears that I have brought the Sacramento heat wave with me back to Leavenworth. Yesterday was a balmy 110 and the forecast for Tuesday is 115.

Lots of highs from my trip down the coast. The spectacular ocean view in California…..well, I just can’t come up with the words to describe this. It’s something you have to experience. Even the photos don’t do it justice. I’d love to do it again.

Other highs I’ve written about in previous posts included the gorgeous rose gardens, the beautiful Japanese garden and the Grotto in Portland, as well as the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

Two places that I’d still like to visit are Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The view from the train was interesting and I’m sure there’s a lot to see in both places. Perhaps next time.

But there were also a couple of lows to this trip. It was quite depressing to see the extent of the homeless camps in every city I visited. They are everywhere and what upset me the most was the children who live here. They are surrounded by alcoholics, drug addicts and people with serious mental health issues. They live out of shopping carts and under tarps, and in tents if they’re among the more fortunate.

The second low was the ever present racial tension. Although this familiar logo was found everywhere, the damaged and boarded up downtown storefronts are reminders that the rioting and unrest are far from over.

My travels in the last three weeks have been memorable, but it is now time to think about traveling to Canada on my next trip now that quarantine restrictions have been eliminated for fully vaccinated Canadians.

Last Post From Sacramento

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Last Post From Sacramento

I’m sipping a last cappuccino at Old Soul as I write this post. This quaint coffee shop not only has amazing coffee, but the food I’ve had here has been delicious as well. The air conditioning and WiFi are added bonuses.

This is my last day in Sacramento and I’m reflecting on my life. I am thoroughly enjoying my travels on Amtrak. The view out the window more than makes up for the lack of WiFi. I’ve seen towering trees, humongous mountains, tranquil lakes and charming small towns.

When this is posted, I will be on amazing train ride along the coast to LA. Can’t wait for those ocean views! I read about this particular train ride a couple of years ago when I was in Mexico. I need to pinch myself that I am actually taking this trip now. When Covid reared its ugly head I doubted I’d ever be able to do this. But here I am, on a train headed down the coast.

This has been an amazing and much-needed trip. I’m just not used to spending 11 months in one place in Mexico without traveling and then eight months in Leavenworth without traveling either. Covid has really slowed this nomad down.

I am determined to seek more adventures for as long as I can. I’m not getting any younger but I must admit that the knee replacements and the cataract surgery have definitely enabled me to do what I do. Life is just too damned short and the days fly by even faster as we age.

June 19th marked 25 years since my mom passed away. I wonder what she’d think about my lifestyle. She lived within 10 minutes of her kids and grandkids, and hated going away for the winter without seeing us for a few months, although we did visit her in Palm Springs or in Port Charlotte. I’ve been living in different countries from my kids for the last 11 years and only see my kids if I travel to them.

I think my kids want me to settle down somewhere. Maybe someday I will. I’m just not ready yet.

Sacramento So Far

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Sacramento So Far

I left a rainy and cool Portland and arrived in a hot and sunny Sacramento on Tuesday morning. Hot doesn’t accurately describe it. Excessive heat warnings have resulted in the zoo closing early. Temperatures have been hovering around 110 degrees all week.

Nonetheless I found myself on a light rail heading out to Folsom on Wednesday. I didn’t go to the prison. Instead I wandered around the historic downtown area. Lots of interesting shops to explore selling everything from clothing to souvenirs. I especially enjoyed the art gallery.

The buildings themselves were quaint.

On Thursday I went to the Crocker Art Museum in the morning. I especially enjoyed the Tiffany display. Unfortunately photography was prohibited in that area. But I did capture quite a few shots of the other exhibits.

It was a short walk to Old Sacramento. Here again the shops were interesting as well as a good respite from the heat.

Saturday marked Juneteen, a day when slavery was officially abolished in the USA. A celebration was held around the corner from where I’m staying. The street was closed to traffic and music and vendors were everywhere.

I had hoped to leave today on a train trip along the coast headed south. The train was full so I am now leaving on Tuesday instead. I plan on spending a lot of time indoors. No escape from the heat yet!