Tag Archives: Winnipeg

Thanks For The Memories

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Thanks For The Memories

Every day on Facebook I check out the Memories section. And I reflect on my life and all the different places I’ve been. I also can’t believe how fast the time has gone by and how much I’ve changed throughout the years.

Two years ago I was volunteering at Camp Heartbeat in Peshastin. It was the beginning of my annual children’s ministry experience at LCN.

Three years ago I was in Toronto visiting my friend Deborah. I recall long walks along the lake and the beautiful view of the water from her backyard.

Four years ago I was in Puerto Vallarta enjoying walks along the malecon and gazing out at the ocean from my lounger on the beach.

I found another memory where I was actually in Winnipeg at this time six years ago. That was a year before I discovered Leavenworth.

And then I found a memory from ten years ago. On my way back from a visit to my friend Rochelle in Los Angeles, I had stopped for some beach time in Mazatlan before returning to Culiacan.

Today I’m moving from Leavenworth to Dryden, a town about 10 minutes away. Not quite as exotic as other places I’ve been, but it will be a memory nonetheless to look back on one day.

Open? Closed?

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Open? Closed?

When I talk to my friends in Canada I feel like I live in a completely different world. Yes we still have Covid here but we have a lot more freedom. I enjoy a quality of life far superior to what I’d experience if I were back in Winnipeg.

I know we’re far from out of the woods yet. However it is encouraging to hear that 80% of seniors in the USA have been vaccinated. And almost 30% of Americans have been vaccinated. Perhaps herd immunity is on the horizon.

Traveling is once again on my mind. In April I enjoyed a couple of short trips in Washington state. And I’m planning two more short trips within the state in May.

But my plans do not include travel to Canada at this time.

My American friends are appalled at what they read about forced hotel quarantines. “Just let them try that here” they tell me.

I’m not a big fan of FOX News, but I have to agree when they refer to the hotel quarantines as forced internment camps. There is no excuse for this violation of human rights and the deplorable conditions Canadian citizens are forced to endure.

Canadians were quick to condemn Trump for the mishandling of the Covid crisis. I think it’s time Canadians took a long, hard look at their own country and the disaster that has been created by Trudeau.

I not only worry about my family and friends in Canada, but I actually fear for them. There is something very wrong when sufficient vaccines are unavailable by appointment in Winnipeg, and here in Washington state people are encouraged to come by clinics as drop-ins to be vaccinated.

As much as I long to see my children and my granddaughter, I won’t be traveling to Canada under the current circumstances.

Two Countries Two Different Worlds

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Two Countries Two Different Worlds

When I talk to my friends in Winnipeg, it sounds like we live in two completely different worlds, despite the fact that the USA and Canada share a border.

Friday night we went out for dinner to Wok About, a Mongolian Barbecue style restaurant. We bumped into my friend who was there with her two grandchildren. And we all sat at a table together to have dinner. Four different households at one table. A buffet style restaurant. And in Winnipeg if you want to share a table you need to produce ID to prove you actually reside at the same address.

Let’s talk church. They’ve been open here for a while now. And even when they weren’t supposed to be open they were open. Masks are optional in several churches. Attempts at physical distancing aren’t always successful either.

Then there is the other extreme here in Washington state. Masks are required on public transit. Masks are required to enter most stores although Safeway tends to look the other way.

I met with my immigration attorney earlier in the week. He took my temperature and I had to sign a health form. And masks were mandatory throughout the two hour meeting. I almost felt like I was in Canada.

Walking through downtown Leavenworth on the weekend I’ve noticed that the majority of people wear masks. Until they sit down at all the outdoor tables that line the main street. Lots of restaurant seating when the streets are closed to vehicular traffic.

Texas leads the way in doing away with masks and other restrictions. And I thought Washingtonians were rebels.

When I tell my friends here what’s going on back in Winnipeg and the rest of Canada in terms of quarantine and other restrictions, they don’t believe it. Until I show them the newspaper articles and other news reports. Their response is always “They could never do that here in the USA. We wouldn’t stand for it.”

Please don’t even get me started on the quarantine cash grab issue in Canada right now. This is yet another example of the disorganization and inefficiency of the way Canada is mishandling this pandemic.

For the time being, I intend to mask up when necessary and maintain physical distancing when possible. And I’m looking forward to getting my second shot on Tuesday, months ahead of when I’d be vaccinated if I were in Canada.

One Down One To Go

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One Down One To Go

I was vaccinated yesterday. The first shot went well and I will have the second shot in three weeks. I thank God that I am in a country where the vaccine is available now and that I don’t have to wait several months. God Bless The USA!

Wind back the clock to September 2020. It was now possible to leave Mexico and head up north. The pandemic was raging throughout the world and travel was greatly discouraged.

I’m Canadian. Returning to Winnipeg from where I was in Mexico involved three flights on three different airlines and a minimum of two days of travel through four airports.

My other option was to come to Leavenworth. Only three airports. A flight to Dallas with a connecting flight to Seattle. I left Mexico in the morning and arrived in Seattle in the afternoon. Only about a two and a half hour drive to Leavenworth. Definitely a better option.

Leavenworth is home to me. I may only be here a few months a year but this is where my friends and my support system are. This is where my life is. I usually spend the summer and fall doing volunteer work so my time this year has been spent very differently. It’s winter and Covid is still around.

In Washington state the vaccine distribution program is working well. Appointments are made on the internet. I made mine on Sunday. Yesterday, Tuesday, my friend Linda drove me to Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, a designated mass vaccination site. I didn’t even have to get out of the car. A symptom check and the actual vaccination took under five minutes. I did have to wait thirty minutes after instead of fifteen as I have a shellfish allergy.

I was given a card with my appointment for the second shot. I had received an email reminder yesterday about today’s appointment. By the time I got back to Leavenworth I had received another email congratulating me on being vaccinated and it also included my patient record.

I also registered for the follow-up program. I receive a text daily inquiring about my health and any symptoms I might be experiencing. Very reassuring.

Thank you Washington state for your efficient handling of the vaccination process.

My New Reality

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My New Reality

Yesterday I had planned to meet a friend in Cashmere. However when I got up in the morning, the previous night’s rain had frozen over. The sidewalks and streets were glass. It was too treacherous to venture out. We would have to reschedule.

I checked my Facebook groups from Wenatchee and Leavenworth. Blewett was closed due to spinouts. Stevens was closed for avalanche control. These are the two main passes through the mountains to get to Seattle.

Leavenworth got over a foot of snow. Here in Wenatchee we got less than one inch. There were power outages all over Chelan County but not here in Wenatchee. The highway between Wenatchee and Cashmere was icy with lots of spinouts. While freezing rain and snow continued to fall in Cashmere and Leavenworth, here in Wenatchee the sun actually came out and melted the little snow we did get, although more rain is in the forecast.

This is so completely different from the Winnipeg winters I experienced before moving away just over ten years ago. Plummeting temperatures and bitter windchills are just memories now. I think I chose a good place to spend the winter this year although I’d much rather be in Mexico. I miss the sunshine and warmer climate. And even though I don’t need boots yet here in Wenatchee, it isn’t exactly sandals weather either.

A year ago in January I was in Aguascalientes visiting museums and coloring in parks. I met friends for coffee or lunch. I took long walks and browsed through my neighborhood tienguis. I listened to rosters crow and watched children playing in the streets. I call this time the new “BC.” These two letters now stand for “Before Covid.”

Winter in Wenatchee is my new reality.

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.

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.

Who Am I?

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Who Am I?

I’ll be honest. I’m still trying to find myself. Yes, I know that this expression is decades old. But so am I, and I still crave adventure and who knows what else. I have been so many different people throughout the years. Baby to child to teenager to adult to wife to mother to name just a few. Babysitter to bookkeeper to manager to business owner to counselor to social worker to motivational consultant to teacher to writer to fitness instructor to name just a few. But who am I really?

Many followers of my blog know me personally. However there are others from around the world who read my posts and have never met me in person. So this post is dedicated to you. Here is a glimpse of who I am as I travel through this journey of life in an attempt to find myself.

My name is Karen and I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Winnipeg is the capital city of the province and is smack dab in the middle of the prairies. It is infamous for the brutal winters and has justly earned the nickname of “Winterpeg.” Other than a brief few years in Oak Bluff, Manitoba I lived in Winnipeg all my life until November of 2010.

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I still vividly recall the day I left. First stop was Grace Hospital to say goodbye to my daughter, who was a nurse there at the time. From there my son took me to the airport where another tearful goodbye transpired. I was on my way to my first ESL teaching job in Mexico. I had never been apart from my children for more than a couple of weeks at a time, and this was going to be a ten month separation. I cried all the way to Minneapolis and my first layover on the journey to Culiacan. And I must admit that I am still tearful as I don’t see my children often enough. I love them, I am so very proud of all their accomplishments and I miss them terribly. But we are all adults and we all have our own lives to lead. 

I returned to Winnipeg in July of 2011 and halfheartedly began looking around for a job and a place to live. I also had legal issues to deal with as my divorce decree was nowhere in sight although the marriage had ended in January of 2009. And then I received the phone call.

Are you interested in coming back to Mexico? We have a job opening in our private school here in Irapuato. Really? Hmmmm, teaching in Mexico was to be a one year plan. But the Skype interview went well and a couple of weeks later I was on my way back to Mexico.

It is now February of 2018. And I have retired from teaching. I’m into my third year here in Mazatlan after a few years in Guadalajara. I have also discovered a new summer home in Leavenworth, Washington where I lead an active life including a fair amount of volunteer work. Yes, summer home. Mazatlan is far too hot in the summer.

I have published two self-help books. “When Glad Becomes Sad” deals with depression and anxiety. “Alive Again” deals with separation and divorce. I am currently working on a book of fiction and enjoying writing it immensely. I have contributed articles to books published by other authors, and hope to publish more of my own poems and short stories in the future.

When I’m not writing, my favorite pastime here in Mexico is attending music and dance performances. I enjoy traveling and meeting new people. I belong to a Red Hat group and I play Hand and Foot regularly. I spend hours walking along the malecon. I love the ocean. That is what influenced my decision to leave Guadalajara. I like to watch movies and am hopelessly addicted to Candy Crush. I also take hundreds of pictures with my smart phone. And I have more recently begun volunteering at a Christian mission. And as an aside to my friends in Leavenworth, yes I am still coloring.

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I am forever indebted to former Tlaquepaque housemates Omar and Sean who encouraged me to begin writing a blog on WordPress. And I am flattered that so many people take the time to read my posts. And I now have the time to read other writers’ blogs.

Now that I am retired, my focus will be on my writing, especially my current work in progress.  I have no idea what my next post will be about. I hadn’t anticipated this one until the words began to flow. So we’ll all be in suspense until the next one.