Tag Archives: Family

Family Time

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Family Time

After that whirlwind weekend in Mazatlan, I arrived in Culiacan Monday afternoon. I always feel like I’m coming home when I arrive at the bus station. Culiacan was my first stint at teaching in Mexico. But I left here with much more than just a year of teaching experience and assimilating into Mexican culture. I have this amazing family here who adopted me. They are the reason why I keep coming back to Culiacan. This week is all about family.

Juan and I taught together at Instituto Senda del Rio. We hit it off right away. He was anxious to improve his English and yours truly did not know a word of Spanish. We would meet in the library and he introduced me to wonderful children’s books written in Spanish such as The Wax Man and Chicken Little. 

Our friendship grew and I spent quite a bit of time with Juan, his wife Lucila and Juan Carlos, who had just turned a year old. The family has grown since then and I now have three grandsons and another one due in March.

Juan Carlos is nine now, and plays basketball at Senda. I had the opportunity to watch him play twice this week. I also helped him with his English homework last night. Jose Augustin is six now and likes to cuddle in bed with me in the morning before he leaves for school. To my delight he read me a story in English yesterday. Angel is four and a bundle of energy. He is always full of smiles and hugs for his abuelita.

Juan still teaches at Senda and all three boys go to school there. They leave the house at 6:20 am as classes begin at 7:00 am. Extra-curricular activities begin at 4:00 pm which makes it quite a long day. Then there is always homework in the evening. Sometimes I sit at the table with them and color while they do their homework.

Yesterday I met Marcela for coffee. We taught together at Senda but she no longer teaches there. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years and it was nice to catch up. My Spanish has come a long way so we were able to converse in both languages over cappuccinos.

The weekend is here and will be a busy one. The children have activities and I always enjoy hearing Lucila sing in church.

This will be my last post for a while. Next week the nomad is on the move again!

Goodbye Again

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Goodbye Again

It’s that time again. It’s time to say goodbye to Leavenworth again. It’s time to say goodbye to all my friends here. The last bridge game. The last book club meeting. The last life group. The last SAIL class. The last music night. The last lunch at the senior center. The last trips on Link Transit to Cashmere and Wenatchee.

I feel like the last six months have been more like six days or hours, not months. Friendships have increased and grown stronger. My involvement in children’s ministry is more meaningful. Leavenworth is really starting to feel like “home” to me after years of traveling, never quite settling down in any one place.

People envy me. They marvel at the places I’ve been and the adventures I’ve had. However this type of life does carry a price tag, and it’s a hefty one. It means that I meet lots of new people, but then there are lots of goodbyes that go along with that.

Of course we always have the option of planning our future. But as Robbie Burn’s once said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley.” I remember planning a future years ago, when my children were young. But it never included traveling from country to country on a regular basis. In fact it never included living anywhere but in Winnipeg.

The times are different now. My children don’t live in the same province anymore although they are both still in Canada. The idea of Friday night family dinners as well as birthday and holiday celebrations together is not in the plans anymore.

It has been interesting and enjoyable spending special times with different people in different places, but I would give anything to relive just one more minute of family time spent together. That precious time is gone forever.

Alas I must return to the mundane art of packing, another pastime I do not find in the least enjoyable. It’s also a challenge to keep within the 50 pound limit. Gone are the days when the number of bags allowed and the weight carried no restrictions.

Goodbye for now and my next post will be once I’m settled in Guadalajara, where I am looking forward to Day of the Dead festivities.

On This Day

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On This Day

Facebook has this remarkable feature entitled “On This Day” where I am reminded of what had gone on in my life by the posts I had made on that particular date. These memories are amazing. Some of them I can’t believe I had the audacity to share on Facebook while others are absolute treasures.

For example, this past week I saw photos of Mother’s Day celebrations with my kids in Winnipeg. This photo goes back to 2013 when I had returned to Winnipeg for knee surgery. Another photo dates back to 2015 when I had returned to Winnipeg for my book launch of Alive Again.

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A post from 2009 has me teaching an aquafit class at the West Portage YMCA and then going to a church service followed by lunch with friends. In 2011 I was in Culiacan, enjoying my first year teaching in Mexico. Back in 2015 Donna and I had gone on a tour of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.

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In 2016 I was in Mazatlan and in 2017 I was here in Leavenworth. And I wonder where I will be next year at this time.

On This Day is much more than a conglomeration of posts and events. It is the story of my emotional and spiritual growth. It depicts the trials and tribulations of being single again after thirty-six years of marriage. It hits on some of the more sensitive experiences and awesome adventures I’ve had in the past ten years.

Of  course there are numerous posts I could have written about my life, but the more personal issues are not things I care to share with the Facebook world. Much of my life will always remain private and will be known only by those closest to me. And that’s the way it should be.

The past ten years has seen me living in three different countries and in seven different cities. And yes, Kyle, your mother is still a nomad. Even U.S. Immigration has adopted that term in my conversation with them last month when I returned to Washington.

I think a lot about the meaning of life these days. I guess that comes with growing older. Time is precious and life is to be lived. The life I have chosen involves extensive exploration, exciting discoveries, constant change and adaptation. It is not the conservative, conventional life that I once so tightly embraced. It has drawn a magnitude of criticism from family and friends. Nonetheless it has become my mantra. And I’m sticking to it.

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On This Day, I reflect on all the remarkable people who have shared in my life in the past and continue to do so today. I am truly blessed to have friends wherever I may go. And I always look forward to the new friends I will meet on my journey, wherever that may take me.

And now it’s time for a Facebook post……………

What A Week Or Two!

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What A Week Or Two!

February has been more of a countdown for me. You see, I’d been expecting the birth of a new grandchild and it finally happened on Monday the 26th of February when Madeline Annette made her debut in this world. Exciting! Lots of international phone calls and what’s app messages. My daughter has requested that I post no photos on the internet but I will tell you that Madeline is absolutely adorable and I can hardly wait until next month to meet her when I return to Canada. How the times have changed. I completely understand my daughter’s reluctance to post photos. There was no cyberspace when my children were born, and the idea of complete strangers viewing photos of my granddaughter is quite daunting. However I have been able to show pics to people here in Mazatlan and when I return to Leavenworth in May I will be able to show everyone there numerous photos of Madeline.

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The artesan fair is here in Mazatlan and the timing is perfect. Of course I was on the hunt for baby items and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a pink world out there for babies, even here in Mexico. And my daughter’s favorite color was always pink. Whenever we traveled to the USA Oshkosh was where we’d find pink jeans and pink overalls.

Needless to say, I’ve been finding other things to distract me from the fact that I won’t be headed back to Canada for over a month yet. I went to my weekly Tuesday card games where it was nice to take a break from having my cell phone attached to my ear.

We went to Diego’s to hear some great music by Marco and The Truth. Another unexpected event captured our attention that afternoon. It has been cold and extremely windy here in Mazatlan. The view of the beach was distorted by the sight of a catamaran straggling toward the beach. Thankfully all the passengers had been rescued with only minor injuries reported. We were all quite surprised that the catamaran had even ventured out when all the red flags were clearly visible all up and down the beach. By the following morning, this vessel was in pieces on the beach. Here’s a shot I snagged as people crowded the beach watching this spectacle.

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I also enjoy the weekly jazz jam sessions at El Recreo. While the regular musicians are primarily snowbirds, there are also locals who show up as well. These musical hours are most enjoyable.

My favorite theater is the Platino at Galarias. Comfortable reclining seats, as well as food and beverage service at your seat are great features. Operation Red Sparrow was a great movie, although a little high on the blood and gore for me.

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 I have attended several concerts this winter. I have described some of them in previous blog posts, but the month of March has so far been a whirlwind of amazing performances.

Last Friday we went to a percussion concert at Angela Peralta. In addition to the usual drums, these talented musicians used a variety of household items and textures to create some very interesting sounds.

On Saturday the venue was La Chupiteria to hear some big band music.

Last night, tonight and tomorrow night the concerts are for the Guitar Festival. The ensemble of eight play a variety of classical and contemporary music. The musicians are from Mexico, Cuba and Uruguay. And there is no admission charge for these performances!

This Friday we are attending a dance performance at Angela Peralta. This troupe aspires to tour internationally but the admission charge is a mere 120 pesos or $8 Canadian.

Next weekend the ballet of Romeo and Juliet is on the agenda, again at Angela Peralta. And I cannot even begin to list the other cultural events happening, although the jazz festival is just around the corner.

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But I will publish this post before I get distracted once again.

If

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If

“IF” is a small word but it has a huge meaning. The other day I was asked what I would miss the most if I were to move away from Mazatlan. That is an easy one. Definitely the ocean, the beach and the malecon would be what I would miss the most, especially the spectacular sunsets.

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My friend then asked me a more difficult question. “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?” This is a tough one as there are so many places in the world I have yet to discover, and indeed probably never will in my lifetime. I love the water. I find the lapping of the waves to be calming and peaceful. But the splendor of the mountains is incredible. Gazing down into a canyon is amazing. Then there is the crunching of leaves underfoot as the colorful display falls from the trees in the fall. That first sprinkling of snow in winter is magical. Watching nature come to life again in the spring as greenery and flowers appear.

Where in the world can you find all this in only one place? I am still searching. For the time being, I have transitioned back into a snowbird with winters in Mexico and summers up north, lately in Washington state.

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Not a day passes by where the idea of family doesn’t cross my mind. When I grew up, everyone lived in the same city and usually in the same neighborhood. But now the trend is to scatter. While I hop from country to country, my daughter moves from province to province in Canada as her husband is in the military. Interestingly enough, my son has remained in Winnipeg with very strong roots and I highly doubt that he will ever leave.

Family dynamics today are certainly different than they were mere decades ago. While there is still a strong family-oriented presence here in Mexico, I see more of my former students heading to Canada or the USA. The grass is always greener, isn’t it? Many of these students become disillusioned quickly at the higher cost of living up north, and the harsh winters they must contend with. Life runs by the clock and is more stressful. More return to Mexico than actually remain up north on a more permanent basis. From what I see, much of this can be attributed to the strong family ties as well.

My students asked me constantly, “Teacher, aren’t you homesick?” The truth is that I am in a rather abstract way. While I miss people and places, I realize that the life I once led is entirely unattainable now. But I have chosen to leave this all behind in the form of memories. It’s healthier that way. I can fully enjoy the present and eagerly await all the new adventures that the future holds for me. I love the following quote:

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Now, if only Immigration would stop asking me “Where’s home?” when I travel…….

 

My Weekend in Culiacan

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My Weekend in Culiacan

My travels began with an Uber to Central on Saturday where I boarded an ETN/Turistar at 10:30 in the morning. The drive to Culiacan was enjoyable. Traffic was light and we actually arrived early. Juan picked me up and minutes later I was home with my family.

I hadn’t seen them since April and was amazed at how tall my nietos had grown. At 8, 5 and 3 they are active and rambunctious and I wish I had only a smidgeon of their energy.

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On Saturday night friends arrived with their two sons. While 5 energetic boys played together, we adults indulged in a rousing game of Maraton, similar to Trivial Pursuit but played in Spanish. By some miracle this gringa actually won the game! Perhaps it was all the tacos, Mexican candy and cerveza that fortified me as the game took just short of 4 hours to play.

The next morning we were up early as we went to church. Juan plays the keyboard and Lucila sings. Here’s a shot of Angelito helping out on the keyboard.

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After church we went to a delightful restaurant called La Cocinita del Medio. While we waited for our table, the kids had a great time in the play area.

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Lunch was delicious…………..machaca, frijoles, huevos, tamales and tortillas. On our way back to the car, we stopped to check out some of the animals.

Sunday was Lucila’s birthday as well as being New Years Eve. After a sumptuous dinner and the smashing of a pinata it was time for cake.

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Out came the traditional grapes before midnight. And soon it was 2018, although my two youngest nietos weren’t quite awake at that hour. Indeed Jose Agustin had asked me to tuck him in shortly after 11 pm.

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Some of the guests slept over and the next morning there were 5 boys having breakfast together.

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Visiting with family continued throughout the day and evening. We had dinner with family at the home of Juan’s father. Late at night Angelito was still raring to go and posed for this picture.

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All too soon it was Tuesday and I was headed to Central to board a bus back to Mazatlan. It was definitely the nicest New Years weekend I have had in years and I look forward to my next visit to Culiacan.

Has It Really Been That Long?

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My friend Mitch commented on my wall the other day that it has been just over ten years since the auction closed down. Auctions were a big part of our lives back then. Mitch worked at Wachniak’s in Winnipeg. And my friends and I went to these auctions hunting for treasures for our E-Bay businesses as well as for ourselves. We’ve all had so many changes in our lives since then. Partners, occupations and residences have all changed. All that is left are the memories of another lifetime.

Today my friend Kathy posted that her dog is still enjoying the many toys I gave her when Koal left us. And that was just over nine years ago, although sometimes my heart aches like it was just yesterday. My life has changed so much since then. Travels and people and adventures have made the time pass by way too quickly.

The last time I had Christmas dinner with my children was eight years ago. We actually enjoyed it together a week early, as a friend and I were off to Cuba for Christmas. I envy my friends who are able to celebrate the holidays with their families back home. For me it has just become an impossible dream at this point in my life.

Just over seven years ago I arrived in Culiacan to teach English. Juan was a colleague eager to improve his English, and my Spanish was non-existent. We became great friends and he and his wife adopted me into their family. Indeed their entire extended family has welcomed me. Over time, Juan and Lucila’s family has grown and I now have three precious nietos (grandsons). I am off to Culiacan in two weeks to ring in 2018 with my family. I can’t wait to see how much the kids have grown since I last saw them in April before I headed up north for the summer.

Do you recall that proverbial question that was asked at all job interviews……Where do you see yourself five years from now? Well, five years ago I never would have predicted that I’d be dividing my time between Mazatlan, Sinaloa and Leavenworth, Washington. Five years ago I was living in Guadalajara and had never even heard of Leavenworth.

So now I cannot fathom where I will be five years from now. Can you? But I am enjoying where I am right now………………

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