Tag Archives: Winnipeg

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.

OK. Here It Is!

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I’m often asked what I miss about living in Winnipeg. I’ve had many curious Mexican students over the years with aspirations of going to Canada. My friends in Leavenworth want to know what the big attraction is other than the bitterly cold winters. Other people I have met on my travels are from all over the world and know very little about the prairies or even Canada in general. So aside from the obvious of missing my children and my friends, here are a few things I do miss about living in Winnipeg.

I’ll begin with the change in seasons. Although frost often occurs as early as August, and it has been known to snow in June, the transition from summer to fall is resplendent with colorful leaves and Indian summer days. The slushy streets in the spring, although quite dirty and messy, were always a sign of warmer weather to come. Cracking thin ice on sidewalks to reveal puddles was always a favorite pastime. And that first sprinkling of snowfall was magical.

Assiniboine Park has a zoo, a conservatory, The English Garden and the Leo Mol sculpture garden. Lyric Theater is an outdoor theater featuring a variety of performances from ballet to rock concerts. The Pavilion hosts an art gallery. It is possible to take a ride on a miniature railroad. There are cricket fields and barbecues. There are bike trails and picnic areas and a duck pond. And in recent years restaurants have been added.

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The Fringe Festival in The Exchange District featured a variety of entertainment on the open stage. Delightful children’s programs were held in the daytime. Different venues offered plays and concerts. Needless to say the beer tent was always extremely popular.

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The Forks holds a lot of memories for me as well. When my children were young we attended several events and ate at the restaurants. When I come back to visit I often meet friends there for lunch and then we sit by the river and visit. It’s always fun to browse through the shops and of course pick up cinnamon buns and fudge to take home.

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There are amazing performances at Rainbow Stage in Kildonan Park. The Concert Hall is home to The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Manitoba Theater Center offers interesting productions. There are also a handful of smaller theater companies. And Folklorama was an annual event not to be missed.

As you have gleaned by now, the bar scene was not my thing although there are an abundance of them in Winnipeg. While I did enjoy the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball games, I was never a big Winnipeg Jets fan nor a Blue Bomber fan. But I always enjoyed watching my own kids play baseball and soccer!

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I enjoyed checking out thrift stores and tea houses in the neighboring small towns in Manitoba. Flea markets and antique auctions were also favorites. And the fall suppers were awesome.

Occasionally I have a craving for the moussaka at Nikos or a salad at Sorrentos or a burger at VJs or a steak at Hy’s or the butter chicken at Clay Oven. But those cravings are satisfied when I come back for visits.

So there you have it. There are things I do miss. But it’s also a trade-off, as I have traveled and discovered new places and developed new interests. I now have new favorites. And I will definitely take the mountains in Washington and the ocean in Mazatlan any day over the snow in Winnipeg.

Nomad On The Move Again

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Nomad On The Move Again

The weekend at my son’s flew by all too quickly. The highlight of the weekend, and of my entire visit to Winnipeg, was spending Mother’s Day with Kyle. I am so glad that I listened to that gut feeling I had back in November and booked a flight to Winnipeg. But goodbyes are harder each time as I have no idea when we’ll see each other again.

Nonetheless, I found myself on an early morning flight to Vancouver on Tuesday. And with the time change I gained two hours. Another short flight to Seattle, and I was on the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle into Peshastin, minutes away from Leavenworth.

My friends are always telling me that they envy the traveling that I do. Yes, it’s enjoyable and even fascinating, but there are times when I wish I could just put roots down somewhere and stop searching for somewhere to settle down.

Flying has become a tedious form of travel. I remember the days when I loved flying, especially the magical moments of taking off and landing. But that was back when two hours wasn’t required to clear security and customs, although the free WiFi does help pass the time.

The first security clearance was in Winnipeg. Long lineups of harried travelers. Laptop needs to go in a separate tray from my backpack and my purse. My state of the art supersonic knees always set off alarm bells, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to walk pain free. Now if only the body scanners were ever up and running at 5:30 am in Winnipeg………

To my delight Starbucks was conveniently located close to my gate. It’s amazing what a jolt of caffeine does to the body so early in the morning. By the time we boarded, I actually felt human again.

I slept through most of that flight and groggily sauntered through the Vancouver airport and stumbled upon a Carl’s Jr. A breakfast sandwich and another coffee soon revived me and I began the long trek to the wing housing the international flights and USA Immigration.

I lost track of the countless times my boarding pass and passport were checked. And then there was an additional security clearance, although I was already in a secured area. This check was a lot more thorough than the on by the Canadians in Winnipeg. Shoes off. Laptop and cell phone to be checked separately. Once again the knees performed their magic. Next was the computerized passport check. And I always manage to chop part of my head off in the photo.

And now it was time for my two favorite questions——–Where’s home? How long will you be in the USA? The answer to the first, according to my son, is that his mother is a nomad and has no real home. My reply to the Immigration officer was that Winnipeg was my home. The answer to the second question is in actuality until the snow flies. My reply to the Immigration Officer was that I’m really not sure, but at least one month.

Thank God there was another Starbuck’s close to my gate, although something a little stronger was definitely in order. But I knew that there was a Mack n Jack with my name on it in Washington. And I was getting closer. Just another short and uneventful flight to Seattle.

I was amazed that my bag was first off at the carousel and headed outside to get some fresh air. The sun was shining and it felt good after all that stale airplane air. But it soon clouded over and the rain began. The ride on the shuttle was rather interesting weatherwise. The rain turned to fog and then to freezing rain and then we drove for miles through a blizzard. Yes…….SNOW and lots of it! But at that altitude it isn’t uncommon. As we got closer to Peshastin, once again it was rain and then tapered off to heavy cloud.

Steve met the shuttle and loaded my bags into his SUV. We went in to Cashmere and had a wonderful dinner. I chose the chicken pot pie, quite suitable for a cool and rainy day, comfort food.

I woke up in Leavenworth this morning and did something rather rare for me. I unpacked my suitcase and my backpack! Maybe it was the brilliant sunshine that inspired me, but I smile because I know that I am finally somewhere that I want to call “home” for a few months. 

 

Winnipeg Part 3

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Winnipeg Part 3

I arrived at Carolyn’s early Monday afternoon. She lives in an apartment in North Kildonan with a spectacular view from her twelfth floor balcony.

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We chatted away for hours. After all we had two years to catch up on. The next day we went out for lunch with our friend Brenda. The three of us met when we were doing physio at Concordia Hospital after having knee surgery five years ago.

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On Wednesday Carolyn and I went out to St. Vital Center. This is another tradition when I visit Winnipeg. Lunch at Moxies. My friend Joan also joined us.

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Thursday found us back at Concordia Hospital. Carolyn has recently had knee surgery again and was having physio. We had a short visit back at Carolyn’s after and then my son Kyle picked me up. I’m staying with him for the weekend before I fly out to Seattle.

He had a rec room built since my last visit and it is amazing. My son has been a fan of the San Francisco Forty-Niners since he was a child, and he now has his dream retreat in his home.

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I have begun the enormous task of sorting through photos and albums. It just isn’t practical to haul these heavy items along with me to Mexico or Washington, so I am selectively taking photos of photos. Quite emotionally draining as I recall when many of these were hanging on walls or displayed on shelves in another lifetime when I actually had a home here in Winnipeg.

I’m looking forward to spending Mother’s Day with Kyle and only wish that Kimmy were here too. 

Winnipeg Part 2

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Winnipeg Part 2

I can’t believe that a week has gone by already. On Thursday I moved again. Donna drove me to Audrey’s where I dropped off my suitcase. We visited over a glass of wine and then headed to my favorite Greek restaurant on the Corydon strip. I have been going to Nikos for years, and it’s always a must when I visit Winnipeg. The souvlaki and moussaka are outstanding, and I have yet to find Greek food in Mexico.

After dinner, our destination was a Immanuel Pentecostal Church for an event sponsored by Bridges For Peace, a Christian organization that supports Israel and promotes relationships between Christians and Jews. The featured speakers were fabulous and the two hour program felt more like two minutes.

On Friday Audrey took me out to the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery. It was a warm  and sunny afternoon. The flower beds were being prepared, and it was nice to have a real visit with my parents rather than virtual one which is the norm for me in Mexico.

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Our next stop was VJs Drive Inn on Main Street, another must when I come to Winnipeg. This is the home of the best chili burgers and most awesome fries. Lots of memories of coming here over the years when I lived in this city. We sat at a picnic table outside and I have fond memories of sitting on the hoods or on the trunks of cars when there were no picnic tables.

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Saturday was an incredibly special day. I had lunch with my son Kyle. He informed me that it was the first day off he has taken in almost four months. Because he is an accountant, the income tax deadline in Canada means he is deluged with work. His work as an auditor also finds him flying to Toronto today for a meeting with  client tomorrow. Later on this week I will be staying with him for a few days, and I am really looking forward to spending time with him. The main purpose of my trip is to spend Mother’s Day with him. Kyle despises having his picture taken, but I did snag this one and he won’t notice as he tells me he never reads my blog.

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Today promises to be a leisurely day and this evening I’m going out for coffee with another one of my friends. And then, you guessed it! Packing! Moving again tomorrow! 

Winnipeg Part 1

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Winnipeg Part 1

Back in Winnipeg. It’s been almost two years. I had an enthusiastic welcome from Immigration. Yep. Spot check. Searched my backpack, went through my suitcase, but surprisingly didn’t check my laptop. Tons of questions about what I’ve been doing for the past two years. And how long will you be in Winnipeg?????

And people wonder why I choose to travel to other places rather than return to Winnipeg regularly. Oh well…………..

Amazingly there was no snow on the ground when I arrived. Of course 15 degree heat wave in Winnipeg means nothing to me. I’m used to 30’s. But the sunshine quickly lifted my spirits.

David picked me up at the airport. For the first few days I’m staying with Donna and Loris in the Westwood area. I felt like I had come home when I stepped through the doorway. Although I talk to Donna on the phone often when I’m in Mexico, there is just always so much to talk about once I’m back. And it feels like we’ve never been apart. We went out for pizza that night and began our catching up.

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With no snow on the ground, the next day we decided to venture out for a walk with Tessa, Donna’s golden retriever. The path along Sturgeon Creek goes by Donna’s son’s home, so we picked up her granddaughter along the way.  Ella is a delightful four-year-old and was only too happy to ride her bike with us. Here is a shot of Donna along with Ella and Tessa.

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The water level was very low. I recall other years where the bridge going over the creek was flooded in the springtime. They have extended the walking paths for several kilometers and it was nice to see so many Winnipeggers taking advantage of the seasonably warm weather.

We went for a drive and I was astounded by the the growth and development of new housing and roadways in the city. Once desolate areas are now crowded with homes on small lots. The quiet area where I used to live now has condos and a higher volume of traffic. I wonder where all the people are coming from considering that population growth here is not really increasing.

Winnipeg is also home to a new outlet mall opening this week. I’d like to pass on that one. I’ll be back in the USA in a couple of weeks and I prefer to shop there. But for Winnipeggers this mall will be a big draw.

We went out for a drive to the north end of the city to a sprawling new grocery store that features a variety of ethnic foods. I checked out the Mexican section and chuckled at the Old El Paso products. But I do recall when I used to think this was real Mexican cuisine before I moved to Mexico.

I’m sitting here sipping hot cocoa in an attempt to warm up. While Winnipeg may think 15 is warm, to me it is cold. Loris went out to work in the garden in shorts. I’m inside bundled up in long sleeves and jeans. Yesterday Donna even turned on the gas fireplace in the family room for me!

It’s now three days later. How the time has flown by! I’ve had such an amazing time staying with Donna and Loris. I’ve enjoyed listening to Donna’s students when they come for piano lessons. Loris is retired and is quite talented in the kitchen. Here is a shot of him when he prepared some rosemary for me so that I could bake some bread. I had given Donna my breadmaker when I moved away, and nostalgically recalled that the last time I used it I had made rosemary bread for Thanksgiving a few years ago when Kyle and Krista had come over for dinner.

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I’ve enjoyed visiting with my friends. David and I had a relaxing Chinese dinner the other night.  Glenda, Ethel and I had lunch at Daily Grind yesterday. Last night Donna, Elinor and I went to a movie. And today I find myself once again packing! Later today I move from Westwood to Crescentwood and will be staying with my friend Audrey.

I will finally get to see my son over the weekend. He adores it when his mother comes back to visit during tax time. He’s an accountant deluged with work at this time of year, but unfortunately this is always the best time for me to come for a visit.

Stay tuned for Winnipeg Part 2.

 

It’s Fall…………My Favorite Season

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It’s Fall…………My Favorite Season

Until a few years ago, I lived in Winnipeg all my life and always took fall for granted. Summer was such a short season and I never really looked forward to fall. In fact, fall just meant that the warm weather had ended and that the snow was on its way all too soon. I never really took the time to appreciate the beautiful colors of the leaves. Last October I was in Toronto for a couple of days and it was absolutely delightful to hear the crunching of the leaves underfoot once again, a sound I hadn’t realized I had missed so much. 

Now that I’m in Leavenworth, I am taking the time to admire the magnificent colors as they change daily. Back in Mexico the vegetation is completely different and the only season that stands out is hurricane season due to the torrential rain. There are no gorgeous displays of colorful leaves. I am so mesmerized that I keep taking photo after photo of these beautiful leaves.

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I realize that summer has come to an end and I am determined to enjoy the fall season as I don’t know when I may have the opportunity to experience another one like this again. As for the snow, I hope to be back in Mexico before that arrives.