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.

Sunday Sunday

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Sunday Sunday

Now that I’m back in Mexico, every day feels like a Sunday. There are no scheduled classes to teach and no regular activities to attend. The only routine in my life is how I start my day. With Christian Gospel music in the background, I check emails and texts and play Candy Crush. Yes, I’m still hooked on that game after ten plus years. And of course I’m sipping coffee throughout all this.

Sundays in Washington. Church and brunch with friends and hanging out together in the afternoon. Yard sales, frozen yogurt, shopping, perogies……………….I’ve left that all behind until next spring. I haven’t found a Christian church that I like near where I live. So I do two things. The first is that I tune in to Sage Hills Church in Wenatchee online on Sunday mornings. The second thing I do is go to a Catholic church close by for mass. No, I’m not Catholic. But I figure God hears me no matter where I am. Of course I get rather strange looks from other attendees because I don’t kneel or go up for communion.

Now for the other six Sundays of the week. Routine is totally out the window other than the morning one mentioned above. I didn’t have my first cup of coffee until 12:30 pm on Friday. That’s what happens when you stay up all night writing. One minute it’s 11 pm at night and then suddenly it’s 4:45 am the next day. Yesterday was a little better. I actually was on my second cup of coffee by 12:30.

I’m trying to get back in the groove of immersing myself completely in Spanish again. This results in some interesting conversations with some of the locals. Next door to me, this elderly couple are always sitting outside with all kinds of clothes hanging from their front fence. The other day the lady was trying to convince me that I needed to add to my wardrobe with some of the stuff they sell. She opened the door to their home and I saw a front room that rivals the stock at Macy’s……packed with clothes. Of course, everything is very used and polyester and definitely not what I’d ever even consider wearing. So far no one has successfully talked me into buying a dress and my neighbor sure isn’t going to either.

My neighbor on the other side makes potato chips, the really greasy ones that taste so amazing. I first discovered those when I was up in the Copper Canyon on El Chepe. The guy himself is really nice and great to talk to, but I’m really going to have to watch myself with those chips. I’ve decided one bag a month is probably more than enough. Of course one a month is only the goal.

I was looking for a bottle of antibacterial gel to keep in my room. I have the small purse ones I buy at Bath and Body works in the USA. And I’m not interested in the industrial size that can be found everywhere here. That was one entertaining conversation with the lady in the farmicia. She was super impressed with my Warm Vanilla Sugar small ones. It took three visits, but she finally came up with just the size I wanted for my room. She has connections with other vendors.

There’s a new chicken place nearby. Chicken is a huge of my diet as I seldom eat red meat. Rotisserie chicken is one of my favorites so I was delighted to discover that I now have one close to where I live. I struck up a conversation with the owners. One of them gave me a card and explained to me that they will sign the card after every purchase. When the card is full, (I think it’s four), the next one is free. That will definitely be an easy one for me.

I also checked out a breakfast place this week as I was craving a bolillo. So many fillings to choose from! I told the guy that I’m not into spicy anymore and he let me try samples to make sure the heat wasn’t too high. Naturally he asked me where I was from. And naturally I answered Washington State. Canada wasn’t even close to being on the radar.

That’s my Sunday. Hope yours is a good one.

Where Does The Music Take You?

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Where Does The Music Take You?

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately. And I like to have music on in the background. And I use different types of music depending on if my main character is in his childhood, teens or adult stages in life. Anything from Raffi to Cranberries to Chumbawumba to Backstreet Boys to Pink and so much more.

I find it interesting how a song can take me back in time. If I really listen to the words and close my eyes, I’m magically transported back to a place or event in my past.

The other day I was listening to an old Elton John song called Making Friends. And I found myself in the parkade at Daytons in downtown Minneapolis back in the 70s.

Carrie Ann. A great song by The Hollies. And I was back in the gym at University of Winnipeg watching them live back in the 60s.

Wild Horses. And I’m up in the stands at the old Winnipeg Stadium watching Mick Jagger prance across the stage.

Whenever I hear a tune from the Irish Rovers I’m reminded of when I did programming on a dementia unit in a personal care home. Oh how the residents loved that group!

Vamos A La Playa. Desperately trying to keep up with the pace and intent on improving my Spanish when I first arrived in Aguascalientes.

Handel’s Water Music. I’m back in Mazatlan at the Angela Peralta Theater at a live performance. Or even further back I’m in Mrs. Christie’s music class back in junior high.

Kokomo by the Beach Boys. I can still see Kyle at about age 7 trying to play it on the piano. Somehow he had convinced his very conservative classical music teacher that he wanted to learn this song.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. I can identify chapters of my life story by the different genres of music I’ve listened to over the years. And I’m sure you can too. All you have to do is close your eyes and lose yourself in the music. Try it!

Three

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Three

It’s been an interesting week. It’s nice to be back in Las Flores. It hasn’t changed much since I left in the spring. Most of the tiendas and restaurants are as I remember them. And on my walks I’ve discovered new ones as well.

On Wednesday I went to breakfast with the Ags Ladies group. It was great to see my friends again and I also met new people. And yes, we all talk in English. A rare time when I do talk English. In my neighborhood everyone speaks Spanish. Some are eager to learn English but haven’t quite grasped the fact that when I tell them I’m retired, I really mean that I am retired.

I was wandering through the tienguis the other day when an adorable little boy asked me if I’d teach him English. I guess I’ll always sound like a gringa speaking Spanish. He overheard me talking with a woman selling fruit. In my opinion my grammar leaves a lot to be desired, and I don’t roll those Rs well, but I am pretty fluent.

The weather here is similar to when I left East Wenatchee. Temperatures are in the 80s but it’s sunny here instead of smoky. And I really should switch back over to Celsius from Fahrenheit. And I should also trade out my American chip for my Mexican chip in my phone.

I’m excited. My characters are still talking to me. I’d been writing up a storm back in the USA and I was concerned that they might be affected by the move to Mexico. But they seem to be quite content here. And of course I’m enjoying my new laptop. Much better for writing than on a tablet.

Final thoughts for today. There are three big differences between Aguascalientes and Washington state. In Mexico masks are still very visible and are required in some tiendas. People smoke cigarettes in Mexico. No vaping. And there are no pot shops in Mexico where I live.

Happy Sunday!

I’m Back in AGS!

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I’m Back in AGS!

On Saturday afternoon I flew out of Pangborn on the first of three flights to get to Aguascalientes. A layover at Sea-Tac, another at LAX and I arrived in Guadalajara Sunday afternoon right on time. Breezed through INM and my bag was one of the first off the conveyor. Grabbed a taxi to Central Nueva. Waited all of five minutes and was on a bus to Aguascalientes.

Needless to say I spent Sunday night and Monday morning sleeping. It’s great to be back in Las Flores. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much. I went to one of my favorite hamburger stands Monday night and visited with the owner. Tuesday morning I went to the gordita stand and was welcomed back. Yes, the English teacher is back. Somehow no one around here grasps the fact that I’m retired, although I’ve been telling them this since I first came to Aguascalientes back in 2019.

I finally got internet yesterday afternoon. And I feel like my right arm has been reattached. I haven’t changed over my American chip for my Mexican one on my phone yet, so that didn’t help either. It’s so nice to have Spotify back so I have music again while I’m writing. I’ve missed my music. Okay, I’ve missed Facebook too. Very happy that there is a new modem where I’m living.

To my friends back in Washington……………the air here is so clear. Not smokey at all. I sure hope that smoke vanishes soon up north. It was definitely maskworthy when I left. Speaking of masks, some places here in Aguascalientes still require them. I did bring a couple back with me and glad I did although I am not a fan of masks. People here are amazed that I’m both double vaxxed and double boosted.

Got to the ATM yesterday just as the bank was locking up. ATMs are shutting down early due to the homeless problem here. No longer available 24/7. That’s okay. I had my bodyguard Raul with me and he convinced them to let me in and use the ATM.

Temperatures here are similar to East Wenatchee when I left. 80s. I haven’t switched over to Celsius mode yet. Still in American Fahrenheit mindset.

Yesterday it felt really strange not to be on my way to Leavenworth to teach a fitness class. I must remember to take that reminder out of my phone. I won’t need it again for a few months.

Happy Humpday!

I’m Not Ready

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I’m Not Ready

Every fall it gets harder to leave. Temperatures in the 80s, the leaves changing color, scarecrow days, Octoberfest. It still feels like summer even though it’s October.

Linda and I had a last lunch at Agave Azul in Cashmere yesterday. And of course I visited my tree and took pics. But it’s going to turn a brilliant red after I’ve left. My friends all know which tree it is, and they are awesome about sending me pics even though it’s three towns away.

I only have one fitness class left to teach tomorrow. I’ve been with this class now for six years. And I will miss them when I’m in Mexico. I pretty much exercise alone there. I don’t live in a gringo area so most women my age are either looking after a thousand grandchildren or are still working somewhere. Exercising is the last thing they want to do when they have time for themselves.

I’ve been researching travel health insurance and am pretty sure I’m going to stick with the American company I use when I’m here in the USA. The Mexican quote is less expensive but I’m rather skeptical. I had an insane experience with a Mexican company a few years ago but they finally paid the bill. I don’t give in easily.

The smoke has really been awful. I actually voluntarily donned a mask yesterday. The mountains have vanished. It’s really eerie driving around in this. It’s like you’re headed for some type of oblivion. The air is so thick with smoke and air pollution warnings have become the norm.

I’ll be traveling on the weekend so won’t be posting on Sunday. This is my last post from Washington until March. Yes. I did buy a return ticket. I haven’t done that in more than a decade.

Stay safe out there and have a great week!

Oh Oh October

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Oh Oh October

Where did summer go? The weather is still unseasonably warm for this time of year. But it’s already October. And a week from today I’ll be back in Mexico.

More goodbyes in the past few days. More last meals with friends in favorite restaurants. More classes have ended until next spring. More last minute shopping to do and of course the dreaded packing.

My characters have been talking up a storm. I hope they keep it up once I get back down to Mexico. They really didn’t have much to say last winter.

The fatigue is easing off and I’m glad I only teach two days this week instead of four. Fatigue seems to be a common symptom after the second Pfizer booster.

I’ve taken quite a few pics of my tree in Cashmere this past week. The leaves are changing color daily and I hope that brilliant red will be visible before I leave next weekend.

The smoke is still around, some days more than others. Highway 2 is closed again near Snohomish with no detour through the pass. Fires near Entiat have been contained.

Hurricane Ian devastated Florida and is headed inland to wreak more havoc. And a hurricane south of Mazatlan is threatening the Mexican coast. Glad I decided to fly into Guadalajara.

Off to Sage Hills for the last time until next spring. Then Clairesse and I will have one final brunch together. I’m sure we’ll find another shopping adventure this afternoon. We always do.

Happy Sunday!

So How Did It Affect You?

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So How Did It Affect You?

I had my second booster last week. Pfizer with the omicron. I was delighted that last week the only side effect I had was fatigue. 36 hours of sleep in 48 hours.

I ran around like crazy all weekend. Back to my normal self, whatever that may be. I hate the word ‘normal.’

My friend Connie had hers just after I did. She never made it to breakfast on Saturday or to the parade.

Yesterday morning at our fitness class we were lamenting about the fatigue. How it was hard to get out of bed that morning, a week later. In walks Rose who has a decade on us. Bright eyed and bushytailed and boosted just yesterday!

I did my usual running around yesterday and came home around 4:30. I was supposed to go out with friends for dinner but couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was passed out cold and didn’t wake up until 8. I was determined to stay awake for an hour and almost made it.

Today is Wednesday and I teach a fitness class at 2:30. I often joke that I can teach these classes in my sleep. Hmmmm…..

Last Saturday In Leavenworth For A While

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Last Saturday In Leavenworth For A While

It’s fall. The leaves are starting to change color. The temperature is dropping. And I’m down to my last two weeks here before returning to Mexico for the winter. This is always a bittersweet time of year. I love fall, but it’s getting harder and harder to leave. Friendships have grown over the years and so has my extended family.

I met friends in Leavenworth for one last Lions Club breakfast yesterday morning. The sun was shining and the smoke level was more tolerable than it’s been lately. We enjoyed a lovely meal of pancakes, sausages and eggs. Then we walked downtown to Front Street where Alpenfolk were performing at the gazebo. I have fond memories of the first time I ever saw them back in 2016 when I first discovered Leavenworth.

Next we walked up to the Senior Center where I saw friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Now that I live in East Wenatchee, I usually come back to Leavenworth twice a week to teach fitness classes. I no longer go to the Senior Center for lunches or to play bridge. Craft afternoons and music nights are history as well. Covid affected a lot of activities and I hope that maybe by next spring many of them will have resumed.

This weekend is also Autumn Leaf Festival. We enjoyed watching the Grand Parade from the shade of the veranda at the Senior Center. Some of the seniors who come to my fitness classes were on a float from Mountain Meadows and we waved at them enthusiastically as they passed by. I’m always amazed at all the high school bands who come from all over the state to play in the parade. There were also two small floats from Canada. One was from Penticton and the other from New Westminster. Beautiful flower arrangements adorned some of the horses in the parade.

I got a ride back to East Wenatchee from a friend who lives across the river in Wenatchee. Bob has lived in the valley for decades and I enjoy hearing his stories of what life was like before Highway 2 was built. Where stores and warehouses now line the road, vast empty fields once filled the land. The road to Wenatchee to Leavenworth meandered across both sides of what is now the new highway. We drove along the North Road to Peshastin before winding up on Highway 2, always a beautiful drive. And the high road up to East Wenatchee offers a picturesque view of Wenatchee.

I will miss Saturdays in Leavenworth. But I look forward to them again when I return in the spring.

Double Boosted

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Double Boosted

Somehow I found the time yesterday to get my second booster. Glad I did. The latest version with the omicron protection is in short supply here in the valley and the demand is high. I was in Leavenworth promoting the SAIL program at the Senior Health Fair, had lunch with Connie at O’Grady’s at Sleeping Lady and then went to Cascade Medical before heading back to Wenatchee.

Lots of debate going around re all these vaccines. I have several friends who are Trumpers and can’t understand why I could possibly have even one dose, let alone four. Simple. I like to travel. Covid is here to stay. It was rampant when I was in Canada over the summer and I can only imagine what awaits me when I return to Mexico next month.

Yes. I booked my flights. I’ve decided to fly inland to Guadalajara. It’s still hurricane season. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning didn’t help any this week either. The bonus is I fly out of Pangborn and avoid the hassle of TSA screening at Sea-Tac.

The leaves are starting to change color as the cooler temperatures move in. I didn’t have time for pics today when I was in Cashmere, but I did notice that the leaves on my tree are starting to turn red. I need to find some time to go back later this week and take some pics. And I know I can rely on my friends to visit my tree and take pics while I’m gone.

Naturally a trip to Costco was in order yesterday. I always find the most insane things to buy there that I never thought I needed. The kicker is that I usually make good use of these whether it’s clothing, groceries or just stuff. I must admit that my packing cubes came from Marshalls. But the dark chocolate sea salt caramels are definitely from Costco.

On Sunday Clairesse and Katie introduced me to Legends, an extremely high end and gourmet ice cream shop here in East Wenatchee. Of course it’s quite conveniently located close to where I live here in East Wenatchee. And this comes on the heels of discovering Blue Spoon, a fabulous frozen yogurt place, also conveniently located close by.

Autumn Leaf Festival is coming up this weekend in Leavenworth. Apple Days are the following weekend in Cashmere at the Pioneer Museum. Then it will time to fly back to Mexico for the weekend. So I can’t figure out why it feels like I just got back to Washington from Mexico in the spring.

Maybe Morbid

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Maybe Morbid

If thinking about death or dying makes you uncomfortable, then don’t read this post. Read an older post and wait for the next one. Or read someone else’s blog post. Just don’t read this one.

The other night I had a really strange dream. I dreamt how I was going to die. Isn’t that weird? Not exactly the dream you want to have or even remember. But I woke up the next morning and all the details were still there. The people who were with me. The place where I was. And how I was about to die. I’ll spare you the gist of it but it was a rather violent death. Although the time of death was rather vague.

Normally I try not to think about death or dying. But as I get older, I seem to be surrounded by it more. And especially when Covid hit, and I lost a few people I knew to that ugly virus. Each year I return to Washington state from Mexico and find out that friends have passed away. I also read the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturdays and recognize names in the obituaries as well.

I was talking to a friend the other day whose stepmother is dying. I found out that a former bridge partner passed away. And I’m sure there are more than a handful I don’t even know about. Just last weekend at the 9/11 service in Cashmere, I was reminded of all the people who died because of terrorism.

When I was in Winnipeg over the summer, I went to the cemetery to visit the graves of my parents as well as other family members. I can’t get over how that cemetery has expanded since I was last there five years ago.

However there’s also a positive side to dying. Surprised? I’m referring to how summer is ending and flowers are dying. I view it as fall is approaching which means that those gorgeous, colorful leaves will soon be here. Fall is my favorite time of year, especially here in Washington. My tree in Cashmere is already beginning to change color and I can’t wait to see those spectacular red leaves again. Last year I was already back in Mexico when that happened.

My final comment on death. There was no cliffhanger on this topic when Virgin River ended this season. Actually, after the multitude of cliffhangers last season, there wasn’t much at all this season. We were even told that Charmaine’s twins aren’t Jack’s. A little on the disappointing side.

That’s it for death and dying. On to living now.

Have a great week everyone!