Tag Archives: families

Another Tragedy

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Another Tragedy

A week ago at this time, millions of us in the world had never even heard of Uvalde, Texas. Now we can’t get it out of our heads. The sad part is that the focus should be on the senseless killing of innocent children and teachers, of the injured including the shooter’s own grandmother. Instead it has become a political gong show about who is to blame. This makes the tragedy even worse.

Accounts detailing the shooter’s biography are chilling. A victim of bullying. A history of violence. A son of a drug addict. And most disturbing that he legally purchased two rifles prior to the shooting and posted photos on his Instagram account.

My kids attended a private elementary school back in the 80s in Canada. The school had a security system and the doors were always locked. Here we are decades later and Robb Elementary had a door left propped open. With the track record here in the USA regarding school shootings, a door propped open during school hours? Absolutely reprehensible!

The mother instinct is a strong one. How dare they handcuff a woman who in desperation was trying to protect her children! Other angry parents begged for the Kevlar vests that the police had because law enforcement merely sat back and didn’t do anything. Perhaps more mothers are needed on the police forces.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims. I can only imagine how helpless they felt while the shooting was going on and how horrific the grieving is now that it’s over. We need to pray not only for these families, but for all of America, a country in crisis.

People First NOT Politics First.

Thoughts

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Thoughts

I’m now in Culiacan. Gracias ETN for yet another smooth journey across this beautiful country.

I usually head to the USA at the end of April, not the beginning of March. But Covid threw everything out of whack. So the Jacaranda trees aren’t blooming yet.

Aguascalientes is home to me here in Mexico. My third time and it has really grown on me. I was here for the Ferria three years ago and will miss it this year. Covid affected that too. There was no celebration in 2020 or 2021.

I’m having a wonderful visit with my Mexican family. My grandsons have all shot up in height since I was here three months ago and the youngest turns three on Friday. I absolutely adore the curls!

My granddaughter in Kelowna turned four yesterday and we had a video call. She went swimming and then out for sushi. Today she’s having a party with her friends.

I spoke to my son in Winnipeg yesterday and was totally devastated to hear that he tested positive for Covid. He says he feels fine but I’m  thousands of miles away, feeling helpless and concerned. A peril of living in different countries than your kids.

And now Russia has invaded the Ukraine. Why can’t we live in peace?

A Christmas Memory

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A Christmas Memory

I’ve spent Christmas with a variety of different people in numerous places in Mexico and the USA. But one of my favorite memories dates back to the 90s, when I lived in Canada and my kids were still young and living at home. And Koal was still with us too.

My friend Lesley had invited us over on Christmas Eve. When I had a thyroidectomy, my vocal folds were nicked during surgery. Lesley was my speech therapist who worked with me to get my voice back, and we became good friends as the months went by. My kids were delighted to meet other kids at this Christmas Eve gathering, and it was a most enjoyable evening.

On Christmas Day I prepared my usual bacon and eggs breakfast, and then took my coffee into the living room where we opened presents. Of course Koal got the most gifts. That dog was spoiled rotten by all of us, and was always given way too many treats, toys and t-shirts to add to his wardrobe.

A lazy afternoon included card games and siestas, although I did spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen preparing a traditional turkey dinner.

After dinner we watched Christmas Vacation and laughed ourselves silly at the antics of Chevy Chase. I also remember the first time we saw that movie. We were in Phoenix, Arizona.

The last time I had Christmas dinner with my kids was in 2009. And I often wonder if we’ll ever do it again. We live in different countries. With the world crazy with Covid, nothing is certain anymore.

Now, more than ever before, it’s important to practice mindfulness. If you are fortunate to have family and good friends, celebrate with them NOW. A year from now, we may not all be around to get together. Nothing is promised.

Merry Christmas to all my readers and followers. May you and your families enjoy great times together, in good health, over this holiday season.

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.

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.

Mother’s Day Memories

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Mother’s Day Memories

My earliest memories of Mother’s Day date back to my childhood in the form of handcrafted cards created in the classroom. Friday afternoon after recess out came brightly colored craft paper and crayons. Of course there was the obligatory verse to copy from the blackboard.

I also recall getting together throughout the years with grandparents and other extended family members to celebrate this special day. But then things got complicated. I got married and now there were two sides to the family. Naturally I wound up hosting these holiday dinners to keep the peace in the family.

I never really felt special on Mother’s Day until my son Kyle was born. He was just over five months old and I was now actually a mother. Here is a four generation photo taken with Kyle, my mother and my grandmother.

In 2021 I had hoped to be with one of my kids on Mother’s Day. But somehow plans just never seem to work out, which is why I despise making long range plans.

I’ve spent Mother’s Day in several different places in the last decade……Culiacan, Tlaquepaque, Tototlan, Mazatlan, Puerta Vallarta, Aguascalientes, Winnipeg, Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee. This year I’ll add Dryden to the list.

Four years ago I was still in Mexico and had this really deep gut feeling that I should go back to Winnipeg and be with my son on Mother’s Day. And I’m glad I did. I haven’t seen him since then and I am long overdue for a visit. My alternating visits to my kids were thrown out of sync when my daughter had a baby. But even now with Covid it’s been almost two years since I’ve seen them either.

My laptop packed it in last spring in Mexico and I still haven’t replaced it, but thankfully I do have access to some of my photos on my phone. Here is one of my daughter and I on her wedding day.

Here is my favorite photo of my mom and I on my wedding day.

The featured photo on this post is my kids on Mother’s Day in 2016. They were at a Blue Jays game in Toronto and texted it to me in Mexico. It was a beautiful gift knowing that they were together that day. My son lives in Winnipeg and my daughter lives in Kelowna so it’s quite difficult to get us all together. But I can always hope that maybe next year we may have a family reunion. Maybe it won’t be on Mother’s Day……but it will certainly make this mother’s day.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Enjoy your day!

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!

Parents Where Are Your Children

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Parents Where Are Your Children

When my children were young, a phrase often splashed across the TV screen. “Parents where are your children?” It’s now decades later and this phrase is still in my head.

A couple of weeks ago I actually emailed my current address to my children in Canada. Until now they’ve had only my email and phone number, as well as Facebook.

I move around a lot but I’ll be at my current address indefinitely. I’ve been self-isolating for more than a month now and Mexico has just entered phase three.

There were a number of factors that influenced my decision to stay in Mexico. First and foremost has to deal with my children. They may be in their thirties now but that protective instinct still kicks in. They are both asthmatic and have other inhalant allergies. I did not want to take the chance of my being a carrier and infecting them.

That leaves me with nowhere to quarantine and nowhere to live. I haven’t had a home in Canada in ten years.

The closest place for me to call home is Leavenworth, Washington. I spend six months of the year there when I’m not in Mexico. There I do have a place to quarantine and somewhere to live. But I am not American so the border is closed to me now.

Then there are the dangers of contracting COVID-19 or any other infectious disease by traveling through four airports to get to Canada from Aguascalientes.

Here in Mexico I am quite comfortable. I have a place to live. Food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance of where I live. My landlord Raul is the greatest and has provided me with a safety net should circumstances change.

My biggest challenge is in making my children understand the importance of more frequent contact. It’s not just that I need to know that they care about me. Hearing their voices is reassuring as I always worry about them. With COVID-19 I am even more concerned. I need to know that they’re okay.

It’s tough living thousands of miles away from your children in a different country during a pandemic.

Why?

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Why?

Three little letters but oh the conversations they initiate.

I was at the park yesterday coloring when a delightful child stopped by to talk to me. Oscar is in fifth grade primaria and had a day off school. He rode his bike to the park and it took him 20 minutes. He was quite envious when I told him I live a block away.

It was an interesting conversation. I spoke in Spanish and he spoke in English. We were both impressed that we could each speak and understand each other’s languages.

What had attracted him to come over and talk to me was that I was coloring. He told me that I was the only adult he had ever seen doing this. He called his sister over and she was in awe of my gel pens and markers.

And then came the why questions. Why do I color? Why did I come to Aguascalientes when my family is in Canada? Why do I only have two children? Why did I get a divorce? Why don’t I marry a Mexican and have more children?

The innocence of childhood. I smiled recalling myself at their age. I too was curious but probably not quite so bold in asking questions.

Oscar and his sister are only two of the people who constantly ask me these questions. Often it is adults who find it a novelty that I come to the park to color.

Just the other day a man asked me where I sell my art. When I told him I color to relax, he shook his head and told me it was a good career. He said I should give up teaching English and sell my art instead.

I must admit I spend considerably more time coloring than teaching English. And I enjoy them both.

Here is a sample of my artwork.

It’s All Relative

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It’s All Relative

I’ve been back in Mexico for over a month now and I finally made it to Culiacán. This city was the first place I called “home” when I came to Mexico nine years ago.

Juan Carlos was a baby. He’s now 10 and almost as tall as I am. The family has grown and I am now abuelita to 4 boys. Jose Agustín is 7, Angel is 5 and Christien is 8 months old. I come to Culiacán regularly to spend time with my family.

Culiacán has been in the news recently when the prominent drug cartel literally took over the city for a few days. It has always been a dangerous city because of the cartel.

But danger is all relative.

Just last week a fire truck was hijacked in my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Yet my friends in Winnipeg are not happy that I still visit Culiacán. Back in Aguascalientes my friends there have the same concerns. And everyone in Canada and in Mexico wonder why I want to spend several months of the year in the gun-toting state of Washington.

I look at it this way. Life is short. Living in fear of what may or may not happen detracts from our enjoyment of life. In order to appreciate every single precious moment, we need to really focus on the present. For once that moment has passed, it is gone forever.

Sunday night was filled with moments. We went to mass at a church nearby. My grandsons were excited because a movie was being shown outside in the parking lot after the mass. Chairs were hastily set up. Thanks to modern technology involving a computer and a screen, we were treated to Disney’s Christmas Carol, in Spanish naturally. What a beautiful way to begin the festive Christmas season!

Last night we went to Juan’s father’s home. Candles were lit and prayers were said to begin the Advent season.

Other special moments this visit include playing Scrabble with my grandsons and watching Juan play basketball last night.

Juan Carlos read me a beautiful story he had written in English entitled “A Friend Is Better Than A Videogame.” It rivaled any 10 year old native speaker’s story.

I’m sure we will share more special moments when the boys return from school later today. Sadly I must leave for Aguascalientes tonight, but I look forward to my next visit to Culiacán.