I was looking over some older blog posts. I used to share tons of photos which I don’t do anymore. That’s because I used to take tons of photos which I also don’t do anymore. Photos require time, time that I’d rather spend with people or writing. And writing has been my focus this winter. I don’t have the patience to sort through photos, edit them and store them in files. I really admire my friend Ann who has literally gone through thousands of photos and is organizing them all in files. They’re family photos that span a period of decades. My family photos are haphazardly stored in cyberspace as they haven’t really made it out of the ancient photo albums in any type of order at all. But the albums are safely stored in waterproof bins in my son’s basement. I wonder if he even looks at them or if they just come out of hiding when I’m in Winnipeg which has only been a handful of times over the last almost thirteen years.
Yes. This fall it will be thirteen years since I first arrived in Culiacan. I know. The news reports tend to focus on all the violence in that city, but Culiacan will always have a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories of the year I lived there and I always look forward to going back to visit my family there. When I arrive at the bus station I still have a feeling of coming home although I moved away from there twelve years ago.
Coming home. When I visit Winnipeg it no longer feels like home. I’ve been away too long and the city has changed. Of course I’ve changed too. I feel like I have two homes. One is where I am right now in Aguascalientes. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood now for four years. Not much has changed despite Covid. I no longer do a marathon of museums and art galleries as I did the first couple of years. My Spanish has improved and I now am more comfortable talking with neighbors or people who work in the tiendas and restaurants here. I don’t feel like a tourist anymore.
My second home is Washington state. I lived predominantly in Leavenworth the first few years. But last spring I moved to my forever home in East Wenatchee with Christina, Danny and seven chihuahuas. I was talking to Christina last night and she’s excited that I’m coming back in a month. I think she missed me. Okay, I missed her too. It’s been a great winter but it’s time to return to family.
Of course it would be nice if the snow would be gone. But that’s out of my hands. On Monday it even snowed in Tucson. It’s been a crazy winter for weather everywhere except here. I found it quite warm in Mexico this year. Last winter I needed an extra blanket and was glad I’d brought my lined quilted vest with me. But this year I haven’t even needed a light jacket. It did snow up in Durango about a month ago, but that’s miles away from where I am.
Time for my writer’s workshop on Zoom. Fingers crossed that the Internet cooperates today.
I spent the entire month of July in Winnipeg. I’ve written about it in other blog posts so I’ll just touch on this month briefly. July 4th I found myself out at a cabin rather than celebrating with parades or fireworks as I usually do in the USA. It was nice to get out of the city. I enjoyed spending time with my son and my friends but on a more sad note I attended a funeral. I also replaced my laptop finally. The old one had died during Covid back in 2020 and my tablet had become my best friend.
The first week in August I was back out at the cabin and the following week I flew back to Washington. Leavenworth Summer Theater was in full swing and I enjoyed The Music Man and The Sound of Music. The latter production is a favorite and I try to see it every year. The mountain setting makes this show even more spectacular. I also began teaching four SAIL classes a week instead of the usual two in Leavenworth. The two new ones were in East Wenatchee.
The September long weekend this year was really special as my daughter and granddaughter came from Kelowna. I enjoyed showing them some of my favorite places in Leavenworth and Cashmere. The County Fair began right after they left and I hadn’t been to one in three years due to Covid. September was also the 9/11 Ceremony in Cashmere and Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth. Sadly it was also time to start thinking about returning to Mexico for the winter. Every year it gets harder to say goodbye to friends for six months of the year.
Three flights and a short bus trip and I was back in Aguascalientes. I love my neighborhood. Las Flores doesn’t change much even though I leave for several months every year. It was nice seeing friends again and catching up. I really dived into my writing too. The lure of the new laptop was definitely a factor. My characters were also quite talkative and that certainly helped as well. The internet has also been much better this year too.
November began with the celebration of Day of the Dead. This is one of my favorite holidays in Mexico. The catrinas are always outstanding and even the tiniest shops have colorful decorations. The alters in remembrance of loved ones are also prominent. This year I opted not to go to a cemetery but merely admired everything as I strolled through the streets. The entertainment was amazing and venues were set up throughout the city.
Suddenly it was December and the last month of the year. Festivities were now geared towards Christmas and the Centro area turned into a magical fairyland of colorful lights. Music was an integral part of this celebration and I saw dancers, heard bands and watched children performing. The tienguis was larger than usual with more vendors. I didn’t trim a tree this year. Just didn’t get around to it. Writing occupied much of my time instead. I went to Christmas posadas and Christmas Eve was spent in church. The inevitable fireworks lit up the sky in Mexico as well.
A new year is just around the corner. Here’s to a fabulous one filled with Health and Happiness for all.
I have decided to divide the year end review into two parts. Part 1 will cover the first six months of the year.
I woke up January 1st in Jilotsingo where I had celebrated New Years Eve with fifty-nine others. The next day I went back to Angie’s home in Pachuca. I returned to Aguascalientes after King’s Day. The rest of the month was spent getting together with friends and writing blog posts. I also had a SAIL training session on Zoom.
February was an exciting month. My characters started talking to me again and I was finally inspired to continue working on my book of fiction. My granddaughter in Kelowna also celebrated her fourth birthday. And I went to Culiacan to spend time with my Mexican family before heading back up north for the warmer months.
On March 1st I crossed the border at Nogales and headed for Tucson, where I spent a few relaxing days by a pool at a hotel. Then came the rather unusual but interesting Greyhound bus trip to Seattle where I was finally able to pick up an Amtrak into Leavenworth. One of the first things I did was get a Covid booster. I moved around a lot staying in Leavenworth and Dryden and did some pet sitting before finally settling down in East Wenatchee. It was wonderful to be at Sage Hills in person again and to resume teaching SAIL classes.
April was a fun month of garage sales, different from the usual tienguis in Mexico. Life Group resumed and a series of library programs began on Zoom. My characters continued to chatter so it was also a great writing month.
May was a little on the stressful side. The results of a biopsy were not what I’d hoped for and I needed to have a growth removed. On a more positive note I celebrated a birthday and had a delightful day in Lake Chelan. And I also received great news that while the growth indeed had been malignant, there was only healthy tissue left and no further sign of cancer. So no need for more treatment.
I had training in the A Matter Of Balance program during the month of June and I’m looking forward to coaching it when I return to Washington in the spring. And towards the end of the month I found myself on a plane headed for Winnipeg for the first time in five years.
I’m taking a break from blogging so no post this coming Sunday. 2022 Part 2 will be on December 28th.
Have you ever performed on stage or given a speech?
That was yesterday’s prompt and I decided to go with it. So here goes……………..
As a child, the only acting I ever did was plays in class. I was never into drama or musicals or anything like that. There was the odd ballet or piano recital but that’s about it. In junior high I sang in the choir and we performed at a music festival. But a few years ago I did something completely different that was totally out of my element.
I was living in Mazatlan at the time and saw an ad for auditions for a dinner theater at one of the local hotels. It was a murder mystery and it sounded intriguing. And the pesos were also a lot higher than they were teaching English. So I went for an audition. Brace yourselves………….I got a leading role! It was different and it was fun. But it was also short-lived. The audience wasn’t overly impressed with the plot or the food at the hotel. Oh well! It was great while it lasted.
Now we come to speeches. I guess I’ve done a few of those as a teacher. And then there were the more tedious ones when I conducted staff meetings while managing group homes. But there is one speech I gave that stands out in my mind.
I was still living in Winnipeg at the time and delivered a speech at the annual Manitoba Hospice and Palliative Care Conference. It was quite the challenge as I hadn’t really expected my proposal to be accepted by the committee. But it was and I was allotted a half hour plus additional time for questions. Thirty minutes. I had never given a speech that long before and it was quite a challenge, especially when you’re talking about caring for people who are dying.
So there you have it. I wonder what the next writing prompt will be.
December. Winter. The end of the year 2022.
My friend Ann in Leavenworth texted me a photo of the snow the other day. Quite a heavy blanket covered her car. Reports of two feet of snow. Chains needed to head over the mountain passes.
It’s very different here in Aguascalientes. Sunny and warm with temperatures hovering near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It does cool off in the evenings. When I go out for my walks I need a light sweatshirt.
I was talking to David yesterday. It’s cold in Winnipeg. Temperatures are in the minus 20s Celsius. Not sure how to convert that. I’m still in American Fahrenheit mode.
My featured photo is one I took in Leavenworth two years ago when I spent a Covid winter there instead of returning to Mexico. I miss those gorgeous trees. That Bavarian village is a spectacular winter wonderland.
I remember my first December in Mexico back in 2010. I was living in Culiacan and it was extremely hot. My students didn’t like the air conditioning in my classroom and started wearing hats and gloves to class. I took the hint. Off went the air conditioning. The teacher got to roast so the students didn’t have to freeze. As soon as class was over I ripped off my uniform and changed into shorts and a tank top. I stopped at the first tienda and bought an ice cold Coke to put up against my cheeks to cool me down. It was much hotter in Culiacan than in Aguascalientes with temperatures soaring around the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark.
When I lived in Guadalajara the temperatures in winter were much cooler. Yes, there were nights when it dropped down to the freezing mark and we actually used the fireplace in our house. And I wore gloves and a hat. Atole was always welcome. And then there was one year when it actually got so warm that we had a thunderstorm on Christmas Eve.
I must say I enjoy seeing all my friends’ posts on Facebook with the photos and videos of snowfalls. They’re beautiful to look at from here in Mexico. But I sure don’t miss shoveling snow or driving in it. When I lived in rural Manitoba I rolled two cars off the highway due to black ice and totaled them both. I also do not miss the treacherously icy sidewalks.
So wherever you live, readers, be cautious and aware of inclement weather. Be prepared and stay safe.
Have a great Sunday!
November ends today. That means there’s only one month left in 2022. I need to start working on my year end blog post. This past year was packed with activity.
Here in Mexico Christmas decorations are already visible. Displays in department stores and shopping malls are being set up. Santa is on his way too.
My friend Karen posted a beautiful video of the snowfall in Leavenworth. Almost makes me wish I was back there right now. Almost.
On a sad note, I had two friends pass away in November: Joan in Winnipeg and Adele in Leavenworth.
On a much happier note, my son Kyle celebrated his 42nd birthday in November. And I actually spoke to him rather than just leaving the usual voicemail.
I’m enjoying my courses online and have a new one this month. It’s an Advent bible study with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg.
I’ve been the world’s worst correspondent lately. While I do have a long distance plan, I’ve been using What’s App and Messenger a lot and texting instead of talking. I encourage people to read my blog and check my Facebook posts instead.
I’ve been spending most of my time writing. The perfect ending as well as an amazing title for my book are what’s occupied my time lately. And that’s all you get for now.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
The other day one of my friends challenged me to write a blog post about 10 things I miss about my hometown. So here goes.
Number 1 is definitely my son Kyle. It’s been over a decade since we’ve even lived in the same country, never mind the same city.
Number 2 is my friends. One of my friends dates all the way back to middle school and the others are friends for twenty years plus.
Number 3 is the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery. I like to go there in person rather than virtually.
Number 4 is West Portage Y. Lots of good times with friends in aquafit classes.
Number 5 is The English Garden at Assiniboine Park.
Number 6 is food. Moussaka at Niko’s, Sorrento’s Salad and burgers at V J’s.
Number 7 is going to fall suppers in the rural areas.
Number 8 is the Mennonite thrift stores, auctions and flea markets I used to frequent when I had my EBay business.
Number 9 is The Winnipeg Fringe Festival.
I really tried to think of one more but honestly couldn’t. There are other restaurants and parks but I really wouldn’t put them in my top ten. I was especially disappointed at how The Forks has deteriorated and has become such a dangerous place. I prefer to do my shopping in the USA and have no favorite places to shop left in Winnipeg. I guess I’ve been traveling too much and have been to so many new and exciting places.
So there you have it——nine things but not quite ten.
The buzz words for this decade are “stay safe.” The ones I heard all the time in the last decade were “be aware.”
In Mexico I live alone, I take long walks alone and I often travel alone, very different from my life back in Washington. But in both places the above buzz words are always on my mind.
After having limited mobility prior to two knee replacement surgeries, I am extremely grateful to be able to take long walks every day. And I am very aware of my surroundings regardless of where I am. And I notice very different things.
Here in Aguascalientes, despite the fact that I live in a lower income neighborhood close to Centro (downtown), I am very comfortable walking the streets day and night. There are always people out walking. I’ve even grown accustomed to seeing young children out at night alone. Some of the shops have crazy hours too. There’s a dentist on my corner who is often there at ten at night. A hairdresser a block away is often cutting hair at midnight. Taco stands are open until the wee hours. And I think nothing of going out to the corner tienda at midnight if I crave a pinguino.
This past summer when I was in Winnipeg I stayed with a friend who lived downtown. Winnipeg can best be described as an urban reserve and is not a city I’d want to raise my kids in today. The downtown area is disgusting and filled with vacant office buildings. There is not a department store or a grocery store in sight. But the panhandlers are definitely out there in abundance. The streets are deserted at night except for the aboriginals who can be seen defecating or urinating on the sidewalks just as they do in the daytime.
When I walk in East Wenatchee I always see people out with their dogs. As I walk by the middle school I see kids out on the track. Further along by the high school I see the football team at practice. And of course there are always lovely gardens and trees as I stroll past the houses as I walk up and down the hills.
However in the blink of an eye things can change. I’ve had “interesting ” experiences in all three countries that I do not intend to ever write about. After all, we are never in control of everything.
Stay safe and be aware, wherever you are.
Did you set your clock back last night? Here in Mexico we did it last week. It was bad enough losing two hours when I got here, but now for one week I had to remember who was one hour back or one hour ahead instead of the usual two when I phoned friends up north. Glad that’s over with.
Dia de las muertos has come and gone for another year. The Catrinas have been tucked away and the vendors are nowhere in sight. Some of the bakeries still have pan de los muertos but that’s about it. The parade on Wednesday officially ended the celebrations.
I met friends for a drink last night on Carranzas. That street is always busy. There are lots of bars, coffee shops and restaurants as well as a variety of other shops. It’s a great place for people-watching and practicing my Spanish as I meander in and out of the shops.
I’m now watching Lifetime movies again in an effort to improve my Spanish. The odd one I’ve seen in English before but most are new so it’s a challenge. Some of them are pretty bizarre. I watched one the other night that was about murdering cheerleaders, most conducive to nightmares if there were any teens out there watching.
Apparently I’m not the only one doing any traveling. My driver’s license has been on the move since September when it was sent to me from Winnipeg. It never did arrive in East Wenatchee and has surfaced once again in Winnipeg this week. I’ve told my son to keep it there as sending it here to Mexico is an exercise in futility. I mean, it couldn’t even make it to East Wenatchee so I don’t expect that it would ever find its way to Aguascalientes. Besides, I’m enjoying using my Mexican Costco card as photo ID.
My friends back home tell me the smoke has cleared and the temperatures have cooled. They’ve even had some snow. It’s still in the 80s here and I’m looking forward to it cooling off a little. Of course, they can keep that white stuff up north. I know some of my Mexican friends are excited about snow but I keep telling them I’d rather watch it on the videos my friends put on Facebook than to actually be there and have to contend with it. That one winter in Washington during Covid was more than enough for me.
Speaking of Covid, there aren’t nearly as many masks on the streets here now as there were when I first arrived a month ago. And the shops that had signs up requiring masks are now letting people in without masks although some still have signs up. Yours truly was a bit of a rebel and totally disregarded the signs anyways.
Alexa’s joke today. A grasshopper hops into a bar. The bartender says, “I’m going to serve you a drink named after you.” The grasshopper responds,” You have a drink named ‘Steve’?”
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!