Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Leavenworth, Washington. I published When Glad Becomes Sad in 2009. My second book, Alive Again, was published in March of 2015. Both are self-help books. I am currently working on a third book, this time a work of fiction.

Last Weekend in Leavenworth

Standard
Last Weekend in Leavenworth

There is always a flurry of activity on the weekends in Leavenworth. Last weekend was the International Accordion Festival. Lively music filled the air both indoors and outdoors. The Festhalle and a number of restaurants and bars featured accordionists.

Saturday morning I attended a seminar and demonstration of various types of accordions. The Upper Valley Museum was a perfect venue for this event. The program itself was in the lovely sunroom overlooking the river. The man who spoke had brought in several items from his personal collection.

065

Here are a few of the different accordions that were on display.

When the program was over, I headed downtown to the gazebo to watch the accordion parade.

A special treat was when they all gathered up on the gazebo and played Edelweiss and The Happy Wanderer. The participants were of all ages. The youngest was the little girl in front playing her toy accordion.

106

In the evening I was invited to a dinner party where one of the accordionists entertained us with a variety of tunes. His grandson also performed for us.

Sunday morning at church………you guessed it…………one of the pastors was up there with his accordion playing with the band.

My plans for the upcoming weekend include volunteering at a mini-golf and pizza event for the youth group from church as well as attending a performance of The Little Mermaid over at the high school. Can’t wait!

Friday Hodgepodge

Standard
Friday Hodgepodge

It’s Friday afternoon. After two days of rain the skies have cleared and the sun is shining. Folks around here tell me this is unusual weather for Leavenworth at this time of year. The highs the past couple of days have been in the 60s. But I am still in awe of the beauty of the clouds enveloping the mountaintops, even though they are still snow-capped. This was the sky yesterday evening.

IMG_20170615_185449

The other day we were out in Cashmere as my friend had to pay his car insurance. The office was sandwiched between a liquor store and a marijuana outlet. Here’s the sign on the highway advertising this little strip mall. An interesting combination.

Cashmere

The Pioneer Museum in Cashmere was especially an interesting place to be last week. The children in the local elementary school and their teachers wore period clothing and had classes in the school house, complete with quill pins. At recess they jumped rope, played with hoops or enjoyed games of checkers. Apples were the common snack.

013

Waterville is a quaint town about an hour away from Leavenworth. This old barn with its advertising caught my eye.

166

We drove up in the hills to a home in Monitor. How is this for a view?

Monitor

The International Accordion Festival happens this weekend in Leavenworth. Yesterday some musicians gave us a preview at the gazebo.

19274896_10154749845134205_2683490429592080445_n

Tomorrow I’m off to the Upper Valley Museum here to attend a seminar and concert featuring accordionists. And tomorrow evening, in the spirit of the accordion festival,……………oh, I’ll save that for another blog post.

Retirement Part 1…..Life in Leavenworth

Standard
Retirement Part 1…..Life in Leavenworth

When I was younger, I always envisioned retirement as a time when my husband and I would kick back and relax after years of working and raising children. We would enjoy leisurely hours together and do things we’d never had time to do before.

Part of this has come true for me. My life is a lot less stressful and I am certainly involved in activities I’ve never participated in before. But instead I’m divorced and am doing these things on my own.

Did I say on my own? Not really. I have developed friendships and relationships with people I would have never met had I still been married. On a whim two years ago I moved to Mazatlan from Guadalajara, where I anticipated teaching full-time as well. And that’s when the retirement began. Teaching in schools became history and a few private students became the norm.

Of course this has led to my having more time to pursue my writing. As well as my blog posts, journals, travel writing and the book I’m currently working on, I’ve submitted articles and stories to books published by other authors. I belong to online writers’ groups and have just discovered a group right here in Washington where I am spending the summer.

Being a volunteer has always been an important part of my life. When my children were growing up, I volunteered in a variety of organizations. Now I have become quite active at the Leavenworth Church of the Nazarene. When I was here last year, I enjoyed helping out with Light The Night. My focus right now is on Vacation Bible School to be held next month.

This year I discovered the Leavenworth Senior Center. I’ve made new friends and attend exercise classes, play bridge and have lunch with them regularly. There are other activities that I just finding out about, and I am looking forward to participating in them as well.

I also joined a women’s bible study group in the nearby town of Cashmere. We’ve just begun reading a book by Randy Alcorn entitled Heaven. Thought provoking questions accompany this book in the form of a workbook.

A friend of mine is a contractor and the other day I painted a basement floor in a house he is renovating in Waterville. Although I was able to snag a few photos, I’m interested in going back to this small town to check out the antique and thrift shops.

Another favorite pastime is wandering around Wenatchee. The Valley Mall in East Wenatchee is small but indoors, and has Bath And Body as well as Ross. The outdoor North Valley Mall has Old Navy, J C Penney and several other stores. There are also restaurants in abundance in Wenatchee, as well as The Igloo for an ice cold Mack n Jack.

My favorite town is nearby Cashmere. This quaint place is home of Spirit of America, a tribute to 9/11. Cute little shops, a candy factory, a pioneer museum, a library and a great Mexican restaurant are found here. And if you’ve read my past blog posts, you know that my favorite tree is here as well.

I walk around Leavenworth, exploring and taking photos. This quaint Bavarian town attracts hoards of tourists, especially on weekends and during festivals. Acres of orchards are found in this area, and the cherries are just beginning to color the trees. Rafting, tubing, jet skis and kayaks are also popular around here. I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that I actually live in this paradise several months of the year.

I lead an active and fulfilling life here in Leavenworth. I am truly blessed with the friends I have made here and the time that we are able to spend together.  

               Watch for Retirement Part 2 when I return to Mazatlan for the winter.

What Happened to May?

Standard
What Happened to May?

I left Mazatlan on April 29th and it seems like yesterday. May was a blur of traveling and suitcases until I arrived in Leavenworth on May 16th. Then it was finally time to actually unpack a suitcase and settle down for more than 3 or 4 days in one place.

I’m still in awe of the beauty of the mountains and the rivers and streams around here. Spring is here. The pungent aroma of budding lilacs fills the air along with the scent of pine from the towering evergreens. I went to visit my tree in Cashmere the other day and it is completely green with no evidence of the crimson glory displayed last fall.

 

A friend and I were sipping Mack n Jacks at Igloo in Wenatchee the other day when I remarked that I felt like I was at home, as though I hadn’t been away for six months. Everything was so familiar and very little had changed. It’s comfortable and relaxing and it’s good to be back.

I haven’t even pulled out my laptop all week. I’ve been out and about and too busy to write. I’m back volunteering at the church again and it’s so nice to be back with my church family. Vacation Bible School is fast approaching next month, and as a co-director I am only too aware of all the planning and organizing that needs to be done this month.

I also joined the Leavenworth Senior Center. I’ve met some lovely people and enjoyed lunch and an afternoon of bridge the other day. Next week I start an exercise program and I plan on attending some of the daily lunches at the center. There are other activities offered as well including a monthly trip to a casino.

I took Link Transit into Wenatchee and rode around on the trolleys to the various shopping areas. And I got an ID card as I’m at that wonderful age where public transit is now half price for me.

I visited Spirit of America in Cashmere. This tribute to 9/11 is a must for any traveler.

I’ve also joined a bible study group in Cashmere and am only too delighted to have yet another excuse to visit my favorite town in Washington.

The public library system in this state is amazing and I have been at both the Leavenworth and the Cashmere branches this week. I have lots of reading material to catch up on as John Grisham and Danielle Steel are difficult to find in English in Mexico.

Also on the agenda this past week was a walk in Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee. The path is alongside the river, peaceful and tranquil. A few people were in the water on rafts or in boats as it was quite a warm day.

200

I start a course next week from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The course is titled Emotions: A Philosophical Introduction. It’s wonderful to have the time to take courses that are of interest rather than courses that are compulsory in order to obtain a degree.

I’m also indulging in another favorite pastime while in Leavenworth. I love to cook and bake and both the kitchens and available ingredients are certainly lacking in Mexico. I am overwhelmed when I walk into grocery stores here but I eagerly make my purchases and return home to bask in the glow of an American kitchen.

No wonder it’s June already!

Every Birthday Is A Milestone

Standard
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.

  

An Afternoon Walk

Standard
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.

287290

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

304

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

308

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.

324

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

328

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

335

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

337

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

Standard
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.

IMG_20170520_080613_772

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.

Image result for images of to do list

 

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.