Monthly Archives: December 2017

Last Thoughts For 2017

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Last Thoughts For 2017

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2017 has been an incredible year of growth and adventure. Cataract surgery greatly improved my eyesight. Easter was celebrated with my family in Culiacan. I treasure the memory of spending Mother’s Day with my son in Winnipeg. I discovered the Senior Center in Leavenworth. And I discovered a whole new world in Centro upon my return to Mazatlan in the fall.

And the friendships renewed and the new friendships I have made in my travels as well as in time spent in three countries……………there just are no words to describe how precious these are to me. Many people who read my blog I have not yet met in person, and perhaps never will, but you are all special to me too.

This afternoon I went for my final walk along the malecon for this year as tomorrow I am off to Culiacan to ring in the new year with my Mexican family. That means my next walk along the malecon will be next year, in 2018.

As I passed the cliff divers, the statues, the salt water pool, the food trucks and the vendors, I marveled at how blessed I am to spend the winter months in this amazing city. I can even hear the sound of ocean waves through my opened bedroom windows.  I am living the life I once only imagined as I gazed at the photos in travel brochures.

Friends often commend me for following my dreams. However I feel that I have surpassed that point of following my dreams. Excitement and adventure abound in my life in ways that I had never ever contemplated before. Indeed I often have a difficult time realizing that this is actually my life now even though I am experiencing it for real.

For me the key lies in accepting that life does not always go as planned and that change is inevitable. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint those exact moments that will have the greatest impact on our lives. Nonetheless it is important to view change of any kind as a positive experience that may lead us on an unfamiliar path with wonderful things yet to come. While we can’t change the past, we can live in the present and influence our future.

In the fall of 2010 I came to Mexico to teach for one year. I am into my eighth year here although I am now retired. In the summer of 2016 I went to Leavenworth for two weeks and stayed for four months. In 2017 I stayed for six months. I wonder what is in store for me in 2018.

Here are some photos taken this afternoon on my walk. I hope you enjoy them. Better yet, I hope that if you have not already done so, you will be able to come here and experience them for yourselves. Even on a cloudy day, this is a beautiful place to be.

Happy New Year! I hope that 2018 brings you health, happiness, peace and love.

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O Holy Night

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O Holy Night

Merry Christmas! May peace, love and joy fill your hearts this holiday season. I’m spending a leisurely morning at home sipping coffee and listening to Christmas carols. I’m also reflecting on Christmases past.

After living my entire life in Winnipeg, the past seven years has seen me in a variety of locations at this time of the year. I’ve celebrated Christmas in Cuba, Mazatlan, Culiacan, Tototlan and Guadalajara. I’ve shared meals with friends from Mexico, The Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Hawaii, Ontario, British Columbia, Washington, England, Alberta, Colorado, Utah, California and New Zealand.

Although my life is in a constant flux of change and creating new holiday traditions, I still treasure the memories I have of family times. Perhaps someday I will again decorate a house and a tree and enjoy a flurry of activity in a kitchen cooking and baking. Those times were often exhausting and even overwhelming, but overall happy times.

Last night I attended a beautiful Christmas candlelight service at The Blue Church here in Centro. It was peaceful as our candles glowed in the dark and we sang Christmas carols. The final carol was O Holy Night, my alltime favorite. And the memories surfaced and brought tears to my eyes.

Years ago this carol found a special place in my heart. My daughter is a talented vocalist, and her solo at the Christmas concert that year was O Holy Night. It was an amazing performance and I still hear her voice even after all these years.

On a lighter note, my other memory of this carol also involves my daughter. She introduced me to the medley of Christmas music by Hanson which includes a delightful version of O Holy Night. And I listened to it again this morning.

Christmas dinner today will be with friends at Twisted Mama’s, a restaurant in The Gold Zone. We look forward to this annual feast of turkey, ham and all the trimmings. While the Mexicans enjoy their pozole, tamales and ponche on Christmas Eve, we gringos still have our big dinner on Christmas Day. Some habits do remain although the people and places always change.

Wherever you are, enjoy your time with family and friends. That is what is important today.

Merry Christmas!

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This and That

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This and That

December has been a busy month. I really do need to make a New Year’s resolution to stay at home more so that I have more time to write. But living where I do now, there is just so much to see and do every single day. And it’s getting harder and harder to choose one activity over another. I usually leave the house with one planned event for the day, but several hours later when I return I am often exhausted from all the other little side trips I have made.

Day of the Virgin of Guadaloupe was observed on December 12th. A procession along the beach to the Cathedral attracted throngs of people. Masses at the Cathedral were well attended. In the courtyard there were local artisans and photographers in abundance. My fascination was held by the young children in their colorful attire. The baby in the first photo is just too adorable for words. The second photo is of two little girls feeding the pigeons in Plazuela Republica.

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On December 18th I attended a Posada at Casa Hogar, an orphanage for boys. The grounds were colorfully decorated. Outside the church was a nativity scene and a brightly lit and very tall Christmas tree. After a mass, the traditional procession from door to door was held, and this was then followed by entertainment and an appearance by Santa Claus. Ponche, tacos and churros were enjoyed by all.

The children’s choir from the Salvation Army Orphanage has been performing in churches, squares and hotels and have been enchanting their audiences with their delightful voices.

Strolling musicians are everywhere in Centro. The atmosphere is definitely a festive one, enhanced by the bright display of lights everywhere.

Even the beach is decorated.

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Last night I attended an open house at Gallery Uno. Tanya is a talented local singer and was performing in the small gallery which featured amazing jewelry and art. Across the street and up the stairs was a second gallery with larger pieces of art and incredible wall hangings. Wine and hor d’oeuvres were also served.

I enjoy long walks along the malecon. After all, I live only a block and a half away from the ocean. I especially enjoy the sunsets. 

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But any time of day is beautiful.

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I’d like to thank all of my readers for supporting my blog. I hope this season is filled with love, peace and joy for all of you.

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Has It Really Been That Long?

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My friend Mitch commented on my wall the other day that it has been just over ten years since the auction closed down. Auctions were a big part of our lives back then. Mitch worked at Wachniak’s in Winnipeg. And my friends and I went to these auctions hunting for treasures for our E-Bay businesses as well as for ourselves. We’ve all had so many changes in our lives since then. Partners, occupations and residences have all changed. All that is left are the memories of another lifetime.

Today my friend Kathy posted that her dog is still enjoying the many toys I gave her when Koal left us. And that was just over nine years ago, although sometimes my heart aches like it was just yesterday. My life has changed so much since then. Travels and people and adventures have made the time pass by way too quickly.

The last time I had Christmas dinner with my children was eight years ago. We actually enjoyed it together a week early, as a friend and I were off to Cuba for Christmas. I envy my friends who are able to celebrate the holidays with their families back home. For me it has just become an impossible dream at this point in my life.

Just over seven years ago I arrived in Culiacan to teach English. Juan was a colleague eager to improve his English, and my Spanish was non-existent. We became great friends and he and his wife adopted me into their family. Indeed their entire extended family has welcomed me. Over time, Juan and Lucila’s family has grown and I now have three precious nietos (grandsons). I am off to Culiacan in two weeks to ring in 2018 with my family. I can’t wait to see how much the kids have grown since I last saw them in April before I headed up north for the summer.

Do you recall that proverbial question that was asked at all job interviews……Where do you see yourself five years from now? Well, five years ago I never would have predicted that I’d be dividing my time between Mazatlan, Sinaloa and Leavenworth, Washington. Five years ago I was living in Guadalajara and had never even heard of Leavenworth.

So now I cannot fathom where I will be five years from now. Can you? But I am enjoying where I am right now………………

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Meanwhile in Mexico

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Meanwhile in Mexico

The weather reports are starting to filter in from my friends up north. Snow and cold are the predominant comments. I won’t complain too loudly then that my stroll along the malecon last night found me sporting jeans and a long sleeve top. After all, it is winter.

But the cooler temperatures don’t scare me. This evening I’m joining friends up at the top of The Freeman Hotel to view the sunset and sip a margarita. However I will take a light jacket with me. The last time we met there the temperature outside was quite a bit higher.

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The temperatures are predicted to rise tomorrow so a friend and I are going out to Playa Brujas. This will be the first beach day and I’ve been here a month already. I have this rather unusual tan on my feet from wearing sandals so something needs to be done about that.

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It’s December and Christmas decorations are beginning to appear. I was at the Playa Mazatlan the other day and snagged these photos.

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I visited The Cathedral the other day and took some photos. I’ve been there several times, but somehow never took any pictures before.

In sharp contrast was a rock concert happening at Plazuela Republica right across the street from The Cathedral.

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As I continued my stroll through Centro I came upon this beautiful display of winter foliage.

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And I will leave you with photos of the lobby at Teatro Angela Peralta the evening I attended The Nutcracker Suite.

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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.

Three Weeks Already????

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Three Weeks Already????

The older I get, the faster time flies by. I’ve been back in Mazatlan for over three weeks now yet it feels like just yesterday I was in Leavenworth. I am also living in a completely different area now so there is a lot of exploring that needs to be done. I still marvel that there is so much within walking distance, a feature I enjoyed about living in Tlaquepaque.

I must admit that my favorite pastime is still my strolls along the malecon. I haven’t been up early enough to see sunrise, but I have seen many a sunset. The lapping of the waves against the shore is calming. Every day at 6 pm the malecon in Olas Altas is closed to vehicular traffic, an added bonus to the peace and tranquility of the ocean.

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I’m going to see The Nutcracker at the Angela Peralta Theater tonight. I’m sure that the experience will be quite different from that in Canada. The theater itself is historic and takes you back in time. I’m certain that the children performing will be a delight.

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Yesterday was Art Walk. We only went to one of the venues, but were entranced with the art and the jewelry on display. There are some 30 venues scattered throughout Centro so there will be more to see in future exhibits.

El Recreo features a variety of events in addition to the movies each week. Last night there was a play reading and the other night I attended an evening of poetry and music where the participants were all associated with a Christian mission here in Mazatlan.

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Macaws had a great singer last night which added to the enjoyment of sitting outside with friends sipping a cold beer on a warm evening. Music fills the air in Centro and it is all within walking distance of where I’m staying.

Wednesday was cruise ship day and my friends from Winnipeg were here. It was lovely having lunch with them at a restaurant in the Plaza Machado. Now if only more of my friends from Winnipeg would come here.

I’ve been out to lunch and dinner with old friends and new. Red Hat group has started getting together again. Weekly card games are back in progress. And I will be doing some new volunteer work beginning in January.

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This winter the plan is to focus more on my writing. I’m currently taking a course from Weslayan University that focuses on Plot. My current WIP is fiction, very different from the two self-help books I published in the past. It’s fun to juggle around characters and scenarios.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas decorating is underway.  I will be sure to have a post with some of the highlights. In the meantime, this is my creation atop my dresser in my room.

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