Monthly Archives: October 2016

Halloween Then And Now

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Halloween Then And Now

I have always loved Halloween. As a child I eagerly ran from door to door collecting treats. Back then you looked forward to a neighbor’s popcorn balls or caramel apples. The streets were safe and all houses on the street were brightly lit.

By the time my kids came along, it was a different world out there. Adults now roamed the streets with their children. Pins and razor blades contaminated candies and apples. Teenagers would often taunt younger children and steal their bags of treats. I always closely checked all my kids’ candy and apples were always tossed in the garbage. Friends of my kids would often come back to our home for a party. There was always a spooky Halloween cake and colorfully decorated cookies, all homemade.

I haven’t been in Canada for Halloween in several years now. In Mexico, the big event is Day of the Dead rather than Halloween. Last year in Mazatlan I saw only a half dozen or so costumed children on the streets for Halloween and saw none at all in the years I lived in Guadalajara. However the influence from up north is spreading down gradually to those areas in Mexico closer to the USA-Mexico border.

This year I’m in the USA. And Halloween is BIG! We were out looking for costumes last night and ventured into the Spirit Halloween store in Wenatchee. I was totally overwhelmed by all the costumes, masks, accessories, decorations and displays. My friend informed me that the stores in Seattle were even larger. Here are some photos I took:

After about an hour, we headed for the checkouts with our selections. He had chosen a gruesome mask, and I had a colorful wig and makeup. This is what we looked like on Saturday night:

The first party was in Cashmere and was a combination birthday/Halloween party. It was cool out and the fire was most welcome.

The next party was back in Leavenworth and was from the Rotary Club.

We then headed back to Cashmere to Club Crow. The place was packed and there was a great live band.

The afternoon today was spent at church preparing for Light the Night, a huge carnival to be held tomorrow night. Last year approximately 1300 people attended. There will be games, food and even a petting zoo.

Sadly I will not be in Mexico for Day of the Dead this year for the first time in six years. But the kid in me is enjoying every single minute of Halloween this year here in Washington state.

Happy Halloween 2016!

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Scare-Crazy in Cashmere

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Scare-Crazy in Cashmere

The month of October is spooktacular in the charming town of Cashmere, Washington. Fifty-five scarecrows adorn the streets in daylight hours. In addition, twenty-one have been given secret numbers and there is a contest going on to identify these scarecrows. Map in hand, my destination was Cashmere this morning. Here is the first scarecrow who greeted me upon my arrival.

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I then made my was down to Cottage Avenue, passing a few more scarecrows along the way. Needless to say, I took way too many photos as usual. Here are just a few:

The Cashmere Library even got in on the action.

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One of the churches had this one on display.

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The delightful scarecrows more than made up for the gloomy, overcast day. Actually, the weather kind of added to the ambiance. But alas, I only had time to find thirty, so I will have to continue my search later on this week.

 

Saturday Morning

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Saturday Morning

This morning dawned cloudy and foggy. It has rained just about every single day this month, so it was no surprise to see yet another gloomy morning. The temperatures dip down perilously close to zero degrees celsius overnight before rising to the low teens throughout the day.

My friend Ann picked me up and we headed out to Wild Huckleberry at the golf course. Even on a dull day the view from the restaurant is spectacular.

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Of course the fresh coffee and delicious eggs benedict lightened the day as well.

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After breakfast we went for a drive to O’Grady’s Pantry and then on to Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. The scenery was absolutely spectacular here, and the sun came out of hiding and was most welcome. We went for a short walk down to the river and here are some photos I snapped along the way.

We stayed by the river for a while admiring the view and listening to the sounds of the lapping of the waves.

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We also saw this amazing glass sculpture by an artist whose name I cannot even begin to spell.

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As we headed back to the car, I took one last look at the skyline. It was encouraging to see such blue sky after a dreary few weeks of rain.

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Smallwoods Harvest, Peshastin, Washington

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Smallwoods Harvest, Peshastin, Washington

The weather has turned cool and overcast with sporadic drizzle. Leaves have fallen from the trees and crunch underfoot. The sun peaked through on Friday afternoon and I boarded a Link Transit bus and headed for Peshastin.

Smallwoods Harvest is located on the highway just minutes away from Leavenworth. I’ve driven by it several times but this was the first opportunity I had to stop and spend some time there. Scarecrows and pumpkins are clearly visible from the highway, and this is also the home of a petting farm and a popular setting for children’s birthday parties. This was the first scarecrow to greet me upon my arrival.

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I came across the children’s area first. Not only is there a large playground, but there are other activities, such as tetherball and games.

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There is a tike track for the little ones.

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There is also a fire pit, a refreshment area and tables with umbrellas. There are colorful photo areas as well. As tempting as it was, I didn’t stick my head through and take a selfie.

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Next came the area with all the produce displayed in bins. The pumpkins and other gourds were what attracted my attention.

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I was totally entranced by the petting farm. Here are a fewof my favorites

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All too soon it was time to head for the bus into Cashmere, my next event that afternoon. A guest speaker was giving a talk on Frankenstein at the Cashmere Library. So I bid a fond farewell to Smallwoods and hope to return soon to explore the retail store located indoors.

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Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated this weekend. American Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 24th this year. But why do we only celebrate Thanksgiving at these two times of the year? Shouldn’t we be thankful every day of our lives? Why designate only these two times to get together with family and friends when there are 365 days in a year?

When I lived in Canada, I always looked forward to having the family over for dinner. I only have two children, but somehow getting them together on one day in one particular weekend was always a major feat. They had so much else going on in their lives that always seemed to take priority over time spent with family.

I loved the aroma of the turkey cooking in the oven. I always prepared my favorite apple stuffing from scratch. I would bake a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. I had a special tablecloth and always made a centerpiece appropriate for this holiday. And I always crafted a holiday wreath to hang on the front door. I always encouraged my children to invite their friends. I even recall one Thanksgiving when my ex’s entire card group were invited.

In 2010, just before I left for Mexico, my daughter Kimmy made Thanksgiving dinner. That was the last time we were all together………Kimmy, Kyle, Krista and myself as Kimmy has also moved away from Winnipeg.

I returned to Winnipeg in 2012 for surgery. This time dinner was held at my son’s new home although I had prepared most of the food ahead of time. Kyle, Krista and I had a lovely dinner and evening together.

In 2013 I returned to Winnipeg again for surgery, and this time I was blessed to enjoy two Thanksgiving dinners, one with friends and one with family. The first was out in Warren with good friends Karen and Chad, their son Josh and Aunt Mabel. First we went to the rink to watch Josh skate before heading back to their home for dinner.

The second dinner with Kyle and Krista I had at the home I was renting. My son accused me of preparing way too much food, but I’m glad I did. After all, who knows when we’ll ever be together again on Thanksgiving? I’m usually in Mexico although this year I’m in the USA.

Because I’m in the USA, the big day here is Columbus Day, not Canadian Thanksgiving. I actually recall a few times when we would head down to the USA for the infamous Columbus Day sales and dine at a Mexican restaurant instead of indulging in the usual turkey and fixings.

What will I be doing tomorrow on Canadian Thanksgiving Day? I will not be shopping at the Columbus Day sales. I will not be having a turkey dinner. I will be with my Life Group from church at our weekly meeting.

I am determined to be thankful every day of my life for all the good things I enjoy. I have my health, my children and my friends. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I live in a lovely town. 

I wish all of my Canadian family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving, not just for tomorrow, but for every day of their lives. We are truly blessed.

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

 

Thursday Thoughts

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Thursday Thoughts

Yet another week has flown by all too quickly. The days are cooler and the skies have been overcast with sporadic drizzle. The trees are shedding their colorful leaves. My leisurely long walks are now at a brisker pace.

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Monday morning I was online with a course from University of Toronto entitled The Social Context of Mental Health. Monday evening I was in Dryden with our Life Group. When everyone attends there are twelve people. A few people are retired, a few work part-time and I’m not quite sure how I should categorize myself. But we all have interesting things to say as we discuss the pastor’s Sunday sermon.

On Tuesday my friend Sharleen invited me to lunch at Wild Huckleberry at the Leavenworth Golf Course. We enjoyed a lovely visit, delicious food and a spectacular view of the golf course. I was amused to find a pair of binoculars at our table. Our server commented that they were there in order to get an even better view.

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I had two meetings at the church later on that day. The first was with Pastor Andy and we spent an interesting hour sharing our stories. The next meeting was in planning for Light The Night, an event open to the entire community to be held on Halloween.

Yesterday dawned cold and rainy, a perfect day to hibernate at home. Writing was definitely on the agenda, but I did manage to make a quiche, a chicken casserole as well as an apple crisp. It was a wonderfully relaxing day.

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This morning was a bible study with a group of ladies. We are reading a book and studying Revelation. Daily reflections and readings culminate in our weekly discussions and conversations.

I’m sipping apple cider and spending a quiet couple of hours reading, in preparation for a book club meeting. Later on I will be going into Wenatchee for dinner and hopping.

I’m planning to attend a lecture tomorrow at the library in Cashmere. On the way I’ll be stopping at Smallwood’s to take photos and check out the petting zoo. Tomorrow is also the second weekend of Oktoberfest.

Rain or shine, living in Leavenworth is indeed a blessing.

 

Oktoberfest in Leavenworth

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Oktoberfest in Leavenworth

In my previous posts I have written about Leavenworth, a Bavarian village in the heart of the state of Washington. I have marveled at the quaintness of this town and have been mesmerized by all the twinkling lights at night that adorn the buildings in the downtown area. The architectural style of the shops and restaurants along with the colorful murals painted on the walls makes you forget that you are in the USA.

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Friday night was the official opening of Oktoberfest. This celebration will continue for another two weekends. Tourists flock here from the USA and Canada for this popular event. Tents have been erected  and there are four main venues, each providing entertainment, food and drinks. There are beer tents as well. Men and women in traditional dress are a common sight. And of course traffic is a nightmare as the streets are narrow and parking spaces are limited.

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One of the infamous competitions is Masskrugenstemmen, more commonly known as “Beer Stein Holding.” This is a traditional Bavarian endurance contest where contestants hold a one-liter stein of beer with their arm straight out at shoulder height, for as long as possible. There are separate competitions for men and women. There is a fee of $20 to enter this competition and there is a limit of 20 participants. There are strict rules and contestants are closely watched for infractions.

 

Entertainment this year includes seventeen bands from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and as far away as Germany. Music is always a highlight of this event and the tents are crowded with people. During the day children are allowed if accompanied by an adult, but at 9 pm it becomes adults only.

A variety of food ranging from bratwurst to pulled pork is available. Desserts offered include a German style cake with whipped cream and a mug of root beer float. Of course all the restaurants in the downtown area are open featuring typical German food as well as everything from Mongolian barbecue to Italian fare.

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There are two locations to purchase Official Leavenworth Oktoberfest Souvenirs. Steins, coffee cups, pins and t-shirts are just a few of the many items available. All the shops in the downtown area are open where an assortment of other merchandise  can be found.

And now a word about beer. There is an amazing variety of beer to enjoy, much of it made locally by Icicle Brewing Company. Alcohol content, color and taste vary. Personally I prefer the darker beer as I find it stronger and more flavorful. One of my favorites actually has a chocolate kick to it.

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While beer is vital to any Oktoberfest celebration, I am impressed with the way drinking and driving is addressed here. Free shuttle buses are provided from hotels as far away as Wenatchee and along the main streets in Leavenworth. The printed Oktoberfest program has a page dedicated to tips on sensible drinking. And of course law enforcement are out on the streets in full force.

Thirty years after Leavenworth adopted the Bavarian theme, Projekt Bayern was created in June of 1996. The goal was to revitalize a waning interest and to carry out projects to make Leavenworth more authentically Bavarian in nature. There are two major events organized and supported by Projekt Bayern include Oktoberfest and Christkindlmarkt, as well as several other organizations and projects, in addition to the awarding the Annual Spirit of Bavaria awards.

Oktoberfest, aka The Munich Beer Festival, is the largest popular festival in the world and attracts millions of visitors from all over the world each year. Leavenworth, a town of only 2000 people, does an incredible job of staging this celebration. Munich………watch out!

Prost!

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