Category Archives: Uncategorized

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

In the USA, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May in remembrance of those who lost their lives while in the U.S. Military. Quite frankly, I expected people to swarm the cemeteries but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Most people don’t work and it’s a popular day for barbecues and parades. I decided that it’s time to learn more about the history of Memorial Day.

The first public ceremony held to honor soldiers killed in battle was back in 431 B.C. This took place in Greece after the Peloponnesian War.

One of the first Memorial Day events held in the USA was back in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War was over and newly freed slaves had good reason to celebrate.

The original name was Decoration Day as soldiers’ graves were decorated with American flags and flowers. Those honored were soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

Union General John A. Logan called for May 30, 1868 to be an official day of remembrance. It didn’t signify the date of any particular battle but was to honor those who died in all wars.

In 1950 Congress passed a resolution asking the President to issue a proclamation that Americans should observe Memorial Day as a day for prayer of permanent peace.

In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and provided a three day weekend for federal employees. However it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971.

In 2000 President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. At 3 pm on Memorial Day Americans were asked to observe a moment of silence.

Flags are displayed at half-staff until noon. The flag is then raised to full-staff.

Another tradition is that the President place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a site honoring all who died fighting for their country. The President also delivers a speech.

That’s today’s American History lesson.

Have A Great Sunday!

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

Yesterday morning at 7:30 am I was lying in bed debating whether or not to get up and make coffee. Really hard to do with a Keurig lol. And I’m happy I procrastinated or I would have missed a video call from my granddaughter Madeline. Yesterday was my birthday and she wanted to talk to me before she left for daycare. Despite the fact that I had no caffeine in my system yet, I was surprisingly coherent. And it was a great way to start my day.

Birthdays. I have several decades of them. I’ve celebrated them in Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Fargo, Oak Bluff, London, Culiacan, Guadalajara, Mazatlan, Leavenworth, Lake Chelan, Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. I’ve celebrated in different ways with numerous family and friends in a great variety of homes and restaurants. And I have also stopped thinking about where I’ll be or who I’ll be with when the next one rolls around.

My most traumatic birthday was when I turned twenty. Oh My God! I was no longer a teenager!

As the years go by, I tend to celebrate every single day as being a special day. And I am blessed with great kids and amazing friends I can do this with. It’s a year long celebration rather than just one specific day.

This is my perspective on birthdays. What is yours?

Have a great Wednesday!

What’s in A Name

What’s in A Name

When I first arrived in Washington, I heard a lot of strange-sounding names of places. And I wondered where they came from. Naturally I did some investigating.

Wenatchee. This is the name of a city in Washington in Chelan County. It’s interesting how the city got its name. The area was inhabited for thousands of years by an indigenous people called the Wenatchi. A nomadic culture closely bound to nature, they interacted with other tribes. Their diet consisted mainly of salmon, roots, berries and nuts.

Peshastin. This is a small unincorporated community in Chelan County. Similar to Wenatchee, several Indian tribes also inhabited this area long before the European settlers arrived. Before the white man arrived, the area’s inhabitants were the forefathers of the Sioux, or Cherokee, or Iroquois.

Chelan County. In 1899 the counties of Kittitas and Okanagan combined to form Chelan County. The name comes from a Chelan Indian word meaning “deep water.” This is mostly a reference to lake Chelan.

Douglas County. Created in 1883, it is named after U.S. Senator Steven Douglas of Illinois. He was the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Territories when the Territory of Washington was created.

Tumwater. This is an Indian word meaning “strong water” or “falling water.”

Cashmere. The original name was Mission. The name change occurred in 1904 and was named after the Vale of Kashmir in northwest India. However it was given the Americanized spelling instead.

Dryden. This town is named after Canadian horticulturalist and Minister of Agriculture John Dryden.

Monitor. Formerly known as Brown’s Flat, in 1902 the name was changed to honor the USS Monitor that fought for the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

I live in East Wenatchee in Douglas County where there are two main bridges that connect this city to Wenatchee in Chelan County.

The Senator George Sellar Bridge was built in 1950 in order to carry U.S. Route 2 across the Columbia River. It was named after Washington State Senator George L. Sellar. The original name was Columbia River Bridge.

Odabashian Bridge is the second bridge and was formerly known as the Olds Station Bridge. it opened in 1975 and was renamed in 1991 for Richard Odabashian, a state transportation commissioner from Cashmere.

That’s it for geography and history for today.

Have a great Sunday!

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Back in 1949 US Congress established Mental Health Awareness Month due to all the soldiers returning from World War II who were suffering from mental illnesses. However it wasn’t until 1980 that PTSD was recognized as a disorder and added to the DSM-III. And it wasn’t until years later that it was determined that PTSD could be attributed to any significant traumatic event and not just caused by experiences during a war.

The main character in my book is bipolar. I know a handful of people who struggle with this disorder. The appropriate medication and therapy are helpful. However there is a high incidence of people who stop taking meds and stop going for therapy when they begin to feel better. My character is one of those and it has led to other problems including substance abuse as well as failed relationships.

Post Covid, psychiatrists and psychologists are even more in demand. The pharmaceutical companies are enjoying a booming business. On the downside, the problem of homelessness has escalated and the crime rate has risen. Suicidal ideation has become more common and suicide attempts have increased. Sadly the suicide rate is also on the rise again.

The stigma of having a mental health condition is still there. A chemical imbalance in the brain is not viewed in the same way as a broken leg or hypertension or any other number of physical problems. The public still requires further education when it comes to matters of depression and anxiety. People often state that they don’t know what to say to people struggling with depression. Sometimes it’s not the words. It’s the actions that count. Let a person know that you care about them. That is certain to make a difference in their life.

Several years ago I experienced a major depression. While medication and therapy were helpful, a hug from a friend was just as important. You don’t want to go out for coffee today Karen? Fine. Then I’m bringing it to you. We’d often sit in silence but that didn’t matter. You cared enough to be by my side. How about if we go out for a drive? Amazing what a change in scenery can do.

Words can’t describe the incredible comfort I got from my dog. Koal would snuggle up with me for hours on end. He would amuse me when he played with a squeak toy or chased after a ball. Yes, animals are right up there when it comes to providing support when we are hurting. In all honesty, he was my major source of unconditional love at a very dark time in my life.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I encourage you to reach out to someone who is struggling. Knowing that someone cares will make all the difference in the world to that person.

Mother’s Day Moments

Mother’s Day Moments

I’ve come full circle when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day—as a child, as a mother and as a grandmother. There are some special moments I recall in every phase. I’ll begin with childhood.

At school we always made Mother’s Day cards. At home I would also make my own cards as well. My dad always encouraged us to make this day a special one for my mom. Growing up like that I thought that was the norm; that was what all families did. It wasn’t until I got married that I found out that not all families were like that.

My first Mother’s Day as a married woman I was told by my ex that I wasn’t his mother so there was no reason to celebrate. Once we had kids that changed, mainly because my kids were into making that day a special one for me. They made cards and art projects at school, Cubs and Girl Guides. I still have a few of those tucked away.

As a grandmother, that means my daughter is a mother. Video calls with my daughter and granddaughter have to suffice as we live in different countries and have yet to be together on Mother’s Day.

The last time I saw both of my kids together on Mother’s Day was in 2007. My daughter was away in 2008 and in 2009 I was returning from a mission trip with my church. In 2010 I was already living in Mexico.

That first Mother’s Day in Mexico was interesting because May 10th is the day to celebrate regardless of what day of the week it falls on. None of this second Sunday in May. Mothers are truly honored. There is a lot more to it than just going out for brunch or dinner or giving your mother a card or a gift..

A few years ago I had this gut feeling that I wanted to go back to Winnipeg and see my son on Mother’s Day. And I’m glad I went with my gut. Thanks to Covid, I didn’t see my son again for four years (or maybe five years, depending on who you talk to.)

Many years have gone by since I hosted family gatherings for Mother’s Day. One of my grandmothers died when I was a young child, the other one died when my son was a year old and my mother died in 1996. I usually go to church on Mother’s Day and sometimes go out for brunch with friends after. I receive an annual text from my son and a call from my daughter. I wish I could travel back in time to when we were all together on Mother’s Day. If only I could relive even one moment. Those memories are now treasures in my heart.

I’m going to visit my mom today. No, I won’t be in Winnipeg and I won’t be going to the cemetery. But I do have photos I’ve taken when she was still alive. And I do have photos I’ve taken when I have been able to go to the cemetery. They’re all on my Seagate and I will spend some time with them this afternoon.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Enjoy your day!

Five Things You May Not Know

Five Things You May Not Know

A friend challenged me to write a blog post about myself. He asked me to write about five things that most people don’t know about me. Obviously some people may know these things, but most people don’t. I have followers from all over the world who do not know me personally at all. So here goes.

One. As a young child I was double-jointed. Yep, I could do the splits among other things. Of course I’ve also been arthritic most of my adult life so I wonder if that might be why.

Two. If I ever accidently eat anything that contains liver it triggers a gag reflex. Yuck!

Three. A boyfriend once gave me a dog for Chanukah……a big dog even though it was a puppy. I was living at home at the time and my parents strongly suggested I give it back to the breeder after it chewed everything in sight and wasn’t the least bit interested in being paper trained.

Four. One summer I took a merit typing course in summer school. I wanted to learn to type and because I was in a university entrance program, typing was not offered during the regular school year.

Five. I prefer living in small towns rather than in large cities.

There you have it. Five things you may not know about me.

IF 2023 and Apple Blossom Festival

IF 2023 and Apple Blossom Festival

The destination was Leavenworth Church of the Nazarene. The event was IF, a women’s conference. Speakers were viewed on the jumbotron and they were all amazing. I was disappointed that we weren’t given much time for discussion amongst ourselves after hearing each speaker. That is an important part of any conference of this type. And it was a small group. Only fifty women registered and not everyone attended.

IF 2023 was actually held live in Dallas on March 3-4, 2023 where the speakers were all recorded. This annual women’s conference was founded by Jennie Allen, a NY Times Best-Selling Author of Christian books. Her goal is to create tools and experiences for women in the local church to make disciples who will make disciples; to encourage women to come to their local church to continue their faith journey.

The same weekend the Apple Blossom Festival was in full swing in Wenatchee. Parades, a classic car show, rides, entertainment and food. Throngs of people flooded the area causing disruptions in traffic due to road closures for the events. There was even an arts and crafts fair and a musical production of Shrek. The Apple Blossom Run was a race of 2K, 5K and 10K.

The original name for this festival was Blossom Days. The first one was held in 1919 and became an annual event. There were cancellations between 1942-1945. After World War II the name was changed to Washington State Apple Blossom Festival. The event was also cancelled in 2020 due to Covid. And in 2021 the event was postponed until June. Back on track again in 2022, the event once again began the last weekend in April throughout the first weekend in May.

Have A Great Sunday!

Do It Again!

Do It Again!

So often people want to talk about what they could have or should have done differently. Or maybe they shouldn’t have done it at all. I like to think of things I’ve done and if I had the opportunity would definitely do again. In this post I’ll touch on four of them.

I missed the first couple of weeks of high school. My friends from middle school were all going to Kelvin High and I lived in the catchment area for Grant Park High. My parents refused to sign the form that would have allowed me to change high schools. I never did hand in the registration form at Grant Park so I wasn’t registered anywhere. Instead I hung out at Memorial Park where I met some really interesting people. Of course eventually someone did catch on and I wound up at Grant Park. But those couple of weeks were awesome!

I had just received my certification for teaching ESL from University of Manitoba. I taught in a program at Red River College over the summer. Then it was time to find a job. I received a phone call from a school in Culiacan, Mexico and decided to head south. Yes, Culiacan is notorious for having one of the strongest cartels in the country. But I had a fabulous year in Mexico. It was so fabulous that when I returned to Canada to supposedly stay, instead I turned around and went back to Mexico. The past twelve years have been amazing!

That brings to mind the summer of 2015 when I came to Leavenworth for two weeks and stayed for four months. Then I made the decision to turn into a snowbird after living fulltime in Mexico for a few years. But I have become a snowbird returning to Washington State and not Canada. I’ve lived in different areas and have done some exploring. I’ve met some wonderful people who have now all become a part of my extended family. We laugh, we cry and we have incredible adventures together. It just doesn’t get any better!

But I’ve saved the best for last. I have two fantastic kids and it was worth all the nausea during pregnancy and all the pain during childbirth to be blessed with my son and my daughter. It was well worth moving my office home so I could be with my kids from infancy to adulthood. I enjoyed numerous hours volunteering with all the activities they were involved in. I have fond memories of bands practicing (of course they practice at the drummer’s home), chauffeuring, living in bowling alleys, coaching sports, being Akela of a cub pack and so much more. Yes, those were incredible days indeed!

I would do all of these all over again given the opportunity. High school, college, adulthood. It doesn’t matter. These are all great experiences that I would gladly repeat again.

Prompt Of The Day

Prompt Of The Day

WordPress always suggests prompts every day. And I usually ignore them. But one caught my eye and I’ve decided to go with it today. “What topics do you like to discuss?”

I like to discuss a lot of topics. The only ones I really shy away from are religion and politics, although occasionally they do find their way into my blog posts. My blog has changed a lot over the years and I find myself writing about a great variety of topics these days.

Originally I began writing a blog describing my life and travels in Mexico. I was living in Tlaquepaque at the time. I’ve moved around a lot and then discovered Washington state. My blog posts were still mostly about travel and events and contained a multitude of photos.

Then Covid came along and I wrote about my adventures while seeking asylum in two foreign countries. In the past year I have found myself doing more writing and cutting back on the photos. I actually just use one featured photo per post now.

I haven’t done as much traveling in the last few months. I spent six months in Aguascalientes and only made one trip to Culiacan to see my family. Other than commuting from East Wenatchee to Wenatchee, I’ve only even gone to Leavenworth three times and I’ve been back for well over a month.

I like writing about writing. If you’re a writer, you’ll get it. My characters in my book are doing weird things these days. I think they’ve got their noses out of joint because I spend my time teaching fitness classes and have found other activities at the Senior Center in Wenatchee. In Mexico this past winter I really focused on my WIP and my characters got all my attention.

I like writing about family although sometimes my family don’t exactly like what I write. I try to embarrass my kids less often and they’re more than happy about that. Writing about people who are no longer with us is easier. They aren’t around to be embarrassed or to criticize me for writing about them.

I like to write about my friends. I have some amazing friends in all three countries. We may not see each other as often anymore but when we do get together it’s like we’ve never been apart. Because I don’t live anywhere near my blood family, I always tell my close friends that they’re my family and they’re stuck with me as a sister.

Weather occasionally is mentioned in my posts. Once in a while I write about teaching ESL or fitness classes. Sometimes I discuss music, pets, crime, courses I take——whatever happens to come to mind. Once in a while I throw in holidays and memories.

I enjoy writing about the seasons of the year. I arrive in Washington in the spring when everything is budding and coming to life. And I head back to Mexico in the fall when the leaves are absolutely spectacular here, giving Vermont some competition.

This weekend the Apple Blossom Festival has begun in Wenatchee. Events from a children’s parade to a classic car show. The temperature soared to the high 80s today so I didn’t venture out to the parade. Watching it on TV was a much better option. I hope it cools down by next weekend for the car show.

And yes, I even write about me sometimes, about my feelings and other more personal stuff.

Have A Great Sunday!

Tai Chi And Me

Tai Chi And Me

I know absolutely nothing about Tai Chi. I’ve heard that it’s a good fit with the SAIL fitness classes I teach and A Matter Of Balance. I recently joined the Senior Center in Wenatchee and Tai Chi is one of the activities offered. Okay, Karen! Here’s your chance to try it.

And I did. I went to my first class yesterday. The instructor has the patience of a saint. He has me in his class. I’m really getting to know my right from my left. And I’m getting into these interesting forms we go through. Weird names. Part The Wild Horse’s Mane. Repulse Monkey. Golden Rooster. Needle To Sea Bottom. Those are just a few. I’m game. I’ll go to another class.

I’m more than halfway through the Suicide Prevention course I’m taking. Still doing Duolingo for Spanish. Two more sessions left in the Boundaries discussion group. I also need to select something to read at Writers’ Group next week. Life group on Zoom. Lots of activities at the Senior Center and at the library that I still need to check out.

Writing mode is diminishing. I think my characters are annoyed that I’ve gotten involved in so many other things now that I’m back in East Wenatchee. I think they may even be a little jealous of the time I’m spending with friends here. They’ll get over it.

Have A Great Wednesday!