Monthly Archives: May 2017

Every Birthday Is A Milestone

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Every Birthday Is A Milestone

I believe that every birthday is a milestone. Birthday milestones shouldn’t be measured only in terms of getting drivers licenses, reaching legal age or even decades. In fact, every single day of our life provides a milestone.

As a young child, I recall many a birthday party celebrated at my home on Brock Street. A half dozen or so friends would come over. We’d play pin the tail on the donkey, the lifesaver game and lotto. We’d sing songs and play with dolls. My mom was an excellent baker and a creative cake decorator. Homemade zoo animal cookies would often adorn these cakes and I always looked forward to these treats.

I have vivid memories of my sweet sixteen. My mother made an afternoon tea for me, complete with party sandwiches and two cakes…………one cake the number one and one the number six. This time it was a Jeannie’s cake as approximately fifty friends filled the house.

And then there was a blur of  birthdays until the one in 1981. That was my first birthday as a mother. And it was awesome having my baby accompany us on the traditional dinner out.

Unfortunately not all birthday memories were happy ones. In 1996 my mom had gone in for knee replacement surgery. She was supposed to come home on my birthday. Instead, she wound up in ICU that day and passed away five weeks later. 

For several years after, it was a struggle to celebrate my birthday. We’d go out for dinner, but I always felt that cloud hanging over me. Over time that cloud began to lift and I found myself in cities such as Culiacan, Guadalajara and Mazatlan on my birthday.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine celebrating my 65th in a small town in Washington. But here I am, far away from the flat prairies of Manitoba. And I wonder where I will be next year at this time, because every birthday is a milestone.

  

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An Afternoon Walk

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An Afternoon Walk

It is spring, a glorious season where everything springs to life once again after lying dormant all winter. Green is the predominant color, and blossoms fill the trees. Spring here in Washington state is very different from Mexico although it is similar to the part of Canada where I come from.

I had been writing for a couple of hours and the sunshine beckoned me to escape to the outdoors. Although a cloudy haze intervened occasionally, it was overall a warm and pleasant day.

I updated my photos from last year to more current ones of the view from the deck.

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As I walked down the road towards the highway, I noticed a neighbor’s tree in full bloom.

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I paused along the highway to record this breathtaking view of the mountains.

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I grew up on the prairies, very flat with not even a hill in sight. I am totally mesmerized by the beauty of the mountains here.

My walk took me past the Enchantment Park.

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I wandered around the downtown area and captured this photo of a horse and carriage.

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My walk home took me across a bridge with this view.

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Once again those majestic snow capped mountains appeared on the horizon.

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I plan on taking another walk this week in the nearby town of Cashmere, where I will also visit my favorite tree that I photographed on numerous occasions last fall when it was resplendent in its colorful red leaves. I am certain that in the spring it will now be extremely green. 

It’s Great To Be Back

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It’s Great To Be Back

I don’t mind gazing up at the still snow capped mountains. Here in the town of Leavenworth it is sunny with a predicted high in the 70s today. I listen to the chimes outside my window. I glance over at the 17th hole and note that the golfers are all sporting shorts today. I plan to go out for a walk later today to take pictures of the blossoming trees. I miss the springtime when nature truly comes alive. In Mexico it always feels like summer, and there are no definitive seasons.

View of 17th hole from the deck

Yesterday my friend Ann drove me into Wenatchee. It was a tedious process, but I successfully got a sim card and had my phone activated. It’s nice to be able to call and text again and not to have to rely on WiFi to call on What’s App or Messenger. This number is now mine so that when I return next spring after wintering in Mexico, I’m good to go.

I had dinner with Ann at her home and had to share this spectacular view as we ate outside on her deck. The next best thing to ocean is the rippling water nestled among the trees. Peaceful and tranquil.

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I have a “to do” list for the coming week that will keep me busy. I plan on going to Cashmere to visit my tree and enjoy an apple fritter at the bakery. Some shopping in Wenatchee includes Bath and Body as well as Walmart. A visit to the salon is in order as I have not found anyone in Mazatlan who layers my hair properly. I intend to check out the Leavenworth Senior Center to see what activities are offered. I have several books on hold at the library here and they should be coming in this week. My life group has a pot luck Monday evening and there is a meeting for volunteers at the church on Tuesday.

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It was without saying that I want to renew acquaintances with friends I haven’t seen since I left last November. We do keep in touch on Facebook and What’s App, but it will be nice to get together again in person over coffee or a glass of wine.  

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.