Tag Archives: blog posts

6 Is Now 9 And Counting

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6 Is Now 9 And Counting

When I arrived in Mexico back in October, the plan was to return to Leavenworth in April. It’s been a very comfortable balance of relaxing in Mexico and a somewhat hectic schedule of volunteer work in Leavenworth. I also had decided to take two side trips to Canada so that I’d get to see both of my kids this year. My son is still in Winnipeg and in Kelowna I have my daughter and granddaughter.

But then COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

I am still in Mexico. It looks like I will be here until September. Should a miracle happen I would still like to go to Leavenworth. My Plan B is Canada.

Contrary to what ROCA has advised, there are no shortages of food, medication or supplies here.

I have a wardrobe of masks and physical distancing is the norm here. So are sanitizing mats, having my temperature taken before entering restaurants and larger stores, as well as an abundance of antibacterial gel everywhere.

I am well aware that these precautions are not being taken in every state in this country. But they are also not being taken everywhere up north in the USA or Canada either from what friends tell me.

Then there are the statistics. I don’t believe them. It’s impossible to get reliable numbers. There are way too many variables when it comes to testing. And are all the deaths being reported solely due to COVID-19? Or are there other factors involved?

Then there are the many conspiracy theories that many people dwell upon. Decades ago when I was in college I took a course in World History. My professor’s words have always haunted me, and even more so today. “There will be another world war in your lifetime. But it will not be fought with guns or bombs.” Interestingly enough, I also recall that this professor was Chinese.

But dwelling upon conspiracy theories and assessing blame on politicians is not helpful either. COVID-19 is here to stay and we need to learn to live with it.

Man’s inhumanity to man is what is at the core and it needs to be addressed. Selfishness is being displayed all too prominently right now. Instead consideration for the lives of others should be where the focus is placed. This virus does not discriminate between race, religion or socioeconomic background. And neither should we.

We are all in this together. And together we can get through this. Together.

Let’s Go For A Walk

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Let’s Go For A Walk

Las Flores and the surrounding neighborhoods provide for some very interesting walks. These are quite traditional Mexican barrios although I did notice this car that really stood out.On another block a children’s party was in full swing. Bouncers are extremely popular and they are set up right on the street as homes here do not have yards.This fellow was wheeling his cart near Expoplaza the other morning.Colorful murals adorn walls everywhere.And I never tire of admiring the beautiful flowers.How sad that the Jardín de San Marcos is still closed due to COVID-19.However the Templo de San Marcos Is open.I’m almost home now as I see the infamous Plaza de Torres in the distance.

Two Questions

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Two Questions

I usually travel a lot. Of course COVID-19 has temporarily grounded me here in Aguascalientes at the moment. But when I do travel to new places there are two questions that people ask me and quite honestly these questions annoy me. Why? Because the answers are complicated.

The first question is What’s your name?

I was twenty-one when I got married and that’s when I legally changed my maiden name to my married name. When the marriage ended, I had just published my first book. My publisher suggested I continue to write under my married name. And I still write under that name and I use that name on my Facebook author page.

However I decided to revert back to my maiden name when the marriage ended but thought I’d wait to legally change it until the divorce was final. By then I was living in Mexico where I had yet a different name on official documents. Here in Mexico your surname consists of father’s surname followed by mother’s maiden name.

I never did get around to legally changing my name back and the fun started when I arrived in Leavenworth four years ago. In order to volunteer in children’s ministry in the church, a criminal records check and child abuse registry check were mandatory. I can still see the puzzled looks on the two pastors’ faces when I pulled out my ID from my wallet and couldn’t find two photo IDs with the same name. Thankfully I remembered my passport that was at home in a drawer.

I prefer to just use the name Karen and totally eliminate all surnames.

The second question is Where’s home?

Actually that seems to be American Immigration’s favorite question. Once again the answer is complicated.

Undisputedly my hometown is Winnipeg. I was born there and lived there until ten years ago.

Culiacán with my Mexican family is home to me in Mexico. When I walk through the door of their home a wave of familiarity washes over me. This is definitely home to me, especially with my loving family surrounding me.

Four years ago I discovered Leavenworth, Washington and that also has become home to me. COVID-19 has screwed up my plans for my annual six month visit this year. But once things settle down I plan to return to Leavenworth. I miss my friends and I miss the volunteer work I usually do there.

But another place that has become home to me is where I stay here in Aguascalientes. I spent three months here last winter, intending to stay only three weeks initially. This winter I’m now in my ninth month and still counting thanks to COVID-19.

So……….Where’s home?

If You Grew Up In Winnipeg, Manitoba

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If You Grew Up In Winnipeg, Manitoba

One of the Facebook groups I belong to is called If You Grew Up In Winnipeg, Manitoba.

First some facts. Manitoba is one of the prairie provinces in Canada. Winnipeg is the capital city of Manitoba.

Winnipeg is my hometown. I was born and raised there. My children were born and raised there. My son still lives there although my daughter has long since moved away.

Back to the Facebook group. Members post photos and memories of growing up and living in this city.

Here are a few recent posts. As you will see, there is a wide range of topics and I have just selected a few.

This photo is of the maternity pavilion at the Winnipeg General Hospital from back in the 50s when I was born.

Clock radios were popular back in the 60s and I had one on my nightstand back then.

In March of 1966 we had a blizzard that crippled the city for days. People were stranded at work and this milk delivery truck got hung up in the snow.

Assiniboine Park is home to the English Gardens in the summertime. This famous statue is known as The Boy With The Boot and greets visitors at the entrance.

This is part of a map of the City of Winnipeg that features the neighborhood where I grew up, River Heights.

These cookies were a chocolate covered marshmallow with a jam filling and a cookie base. Paulin Chambers was a customer of a business I owned. When I’d drop by for a visit I always enjoyed sampling one of these fresh right off the conveyor belt.

The Paddlewheel Princess was one of the boats that had cruises on the river during the summer. Unfortunately it was destroyed by fire a few years ago.

TV tables were another item commonly found in homes back in the 60s. TVs were usually in living rooms back then, not in family rooms. We had these exact ones when I was growing up.

July 1 marks the celebration of Canada Day. When I was a kid all the neighbors would get together at the park on my street and pool their fireworks. This one was always the grand finale.

Other topics covered on this site deal with restaurants, night clubs and even dance and music schools. Someone put up a post the other day about learning to drive. Anything nostalgic goes on this site.

What I find interesting is that a lot of the reminiscing seems to be done by people who have left Winnipeg and live elsewhere now.

I don’t get back to Winnipeg often. It’s changed a lot in the last 10 years since I’ve been gone. When I do go back I see new roads and new housing subdivisions. Once familiar stores are gone and big box stores have taken their place. But what is most disturbing to me is that the crime rate has soared as the city has grown. And that makes me sad.

Penpals

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Penpals

June 30. I’m still in Mexico. Borders are still closed. Canada is still enforcing the Quarantine Act.

In another lifetime it was month end at work. It was the last day of school when I’d take my kids out for brunch after picking up their report cards. Another tradition was going to Chuck E Cheese later on in the day.

And then I moved to Mexico ten years ago to teach English. One of my first projects was setting the students up with penpals.

I’m actually still friends with my first penpal. I was living in Winnipeg and Carole lived in Minneapolis. We were 12 when we met. We have been friends for over five decades.

Today technology such as Face Time, Skype and Zoom have changed completely the concept of long distance relationships.

Today’s generation will never experience the thrill of rushing home from school to check the mailbox for a letter.

They will never have the opportunity to browse through stores in search of the perfect writing paper, envelopes and hasti-notes.

I also remember going to the post office in search of commemorative stamps rather than ordinary postage stamps. And the joys of sealing that envelope with wax!

Mail was only picked up at certain times. In the city there was next day delivery. International mail usually took 3 days.

I must admit that I now refer to email as snail mail with all the other options available. Here in Mexico the postal system is almost non-existent making FedEx a good friend.

But it’s nice to reminisce about the past as I compile more stories for Memoirs For Madeline. My granddaughter is only two and I wonder what communication will be like when she turns 12.

Nomad Not Now

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Nomad Not Now

I’ve been here in Aguascalientes for 8 months now, with the exception of a few days in Culiacán back in December. I haven’t stayed in one place that long in the past 10 years without traveling on holidays and weekends. The term ” nomad” when describing my lifestyle is apparently no longer appropriate at this time.

COVID-19 has quite effectively grounded me for the time being. I’ll just have to wait and see what transpires. In the meantime there is still new territory to explore right in my barrio.

Pets are different down here in Mexico. They’re not the usual dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles or fish. The other day my neighbor posed for me with his pet rooster.

I was out for a walk the other evening when the clouds began to roll in. I captured this shot of an apartment building. The church I attend occupies the main floor. No elevator and the apartments are on the second to sixth floors.

One of my neighbors sells candy, frozen chocolate bananas and chips. Here is a new colorful sign on their house.

This friendly little one sleeps on the sidewalk or in doorways in an attempt to find shade during the day. Temperatures have been hovering in the 90s for weeks now.

I always enjoy looking at the artwork on buildings around here.

The flowers are blooming everywhere.

This nomad will continue to roam only in Aguascalientes for another month.

Dear Daddy

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Dear Daddy

Another Father’s Day without you today. We haven’t celebrated this day together in 44 years. You were taken from me way too soon.

When you died I lost my hero, my best friend and my sense of security. You were always there for me. I could talk to you about anything and everything. And there has never been anyone else in my life who could fill that void.

I treasure the memories I have in my heart. I can still see you assembling the swing set in the backyard on Brock Street. You were so patient in teaching me how to ride a bike and then later on teaching me how to drive a car.

I remember the day we were at Ashdowns buying tools and I fell in love with a pink pyjama dog. I cuddled with Pinky every night for years.

I absolutely adore this photo of us at Van Kirk Gardens. You always sculpted a beautiful garden around our house. You knew my favorite flowers were marigolds and there was always a special place set aside for them.

Sometimes you’d go back to the office to work in the evenings. I’d take along my homework and go with you.

At Christmas we’d go for rides to see the lights and always check out the Carlings display. It was such a magical place with a nursery rhyme theme.

We had intense conversations when we went for rides or walks. Two of your favored phrases have stuck with me through the years. Honesty is the best policy. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

You instilled a set of values in me that have made me the person I am today. And I have tried to pass these on to my children, the grandchildren you sadly never had the chance to meet. They have missed out on having an amazing grandfather in their lives.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you.

Sending you lots of love today and every day.

Happy Father’s Day!

June 17 Memories

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June 17 Memories

Aguascalientes has now changed from red to orange on the virus map. Trudeau is keeping the Canadian border closed. Leavenworth seems farther away now.

But I’d rather be where I am today than where I was seven years ago on this date.

Seven years ago today I was having surgery at Concordia Hospital in Winnipeg, my second knee replacement.

Another memory. Eight years ago today I was also in Winnipeg. It was the day before my first knee replacement.

Today I just returned from a short walk to the Cocina. My fridge is now full of fresh vegetable and fruit salads, chicken and pasta.

Today is June 17 and I am living in Aguascalientes in the midst of a pandemic, creating more memories.

Out For A Walk

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Out For A Walk

I go out for longer walks every day now. I have a variety of masks in my wardrobe and I am careful about physical distancing.

Seeing as traveling outside of the city is not a possibility, I have decided to venture down new streets to explore instead.

Vibrant colors of flowers are everywhere. This photo was taken on a nearby boulevard.

There are lots of street vendors in my neighborhood. It’s mainly juice and fruit during the daytime but this one was different and intrigued me.

Cafes and bars are open and tables are well spaced, even outdoors.

The car wash is open again and costs 30 pesos. The American dollar currently has a value of about 25 pesos.

Sculpted greenery is everywhere.

This doorway has its unique charm.

As I passed by the Fiesta Americana, there was a ceremony going on where hotel employees were being presented with hampers.

I wonder what I will find on my next walk.

Facebook Memories

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Facebook Memories

Thank you Facebook for not only reminding me of my friends’ birthdays but also of reminding me of the different places where I have lived.

Apparently four years ago today I was at The Saloon in Mazatlan with friends doing this.

Today I’m in Aguascalientes sipping coffee instead of doing Jell-O shots.

Five years ago today I was still teaching and this was my classroom at Hotel Torres in Mazatlan. Most of my students were working in housekeeping or security at the hotel.

Today I’m retired and not teaching. Now I sip my coffee rather than gulp it.

But I’m really feeling nostalgic/homesick now. I spoke to my friend Debbie earlier today. She was shopping at Walmart in Wenatchee when I called, one of my favorite places. Then I found this pic from last summer in Cashmere.

I would certainly welcome some of that Washington rain today. 90s and sunny here in Aguascalientes. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had any rain.

Thanks for the memories Facebook!