I’m getting ready to publish Cosmic Connections: Sharing the Joy. This book has been really fun to work on. I got to revisit a lot of really magical moments.
Here’s an excerpt: Magic at Tweet’s
I have had a most weird and wonderful morning. I rode my bike over to Tweets in Edison for breakfast – and magic happened!
I brought my vanilla breve out onto the back deck to wait for my breakfast muffin, and was greeted by one of my former eighth graders, Reed, who was sitting with his sister and friends at one of the little tables out there. It was so fun to see Reed again – it’s always a kick to see my students all grown-up and making amazing lives for themselves. Magic!
I sat down at the table next to Reed and his friends and sipped my breve and watched life happen. Soon a young woman came out onto the deck, looking for a place to sit. There were no more tables out there, so I asked her if she’d like to share my table. She sat down and we chatted for a bit – I learned Marlo lived in Bellingham, was majoring in English at Western Washington University (what a coinky-dink! – my youngest son is also majoring in English at WWU!), and worked at the Woods Coffee shop in Boulevard Park – one of my favorite stops when I’m in Bellingham. Marlo’s friend, Hannah, joined us then and we chatted a bit more – she, too, is a student at WWU, majoring in graphics design.
As we talked and laughed together another former student of mine walked by, and smiled and gave me a hug – it turns out he works at Tweets now! Magic!
When Reed and his friends left I moved over to their table so Marlo and Hannah could have their own table. And then another woman came out on the deck looking for a table for her and her partner, Joe. I told her that, if she liked, they could join me at my new table, and they did. Liesyl and Joe were very cool – they’d traveled to Edison from Seattle on scooters! We talked about their scooter adventures, where they came from, and where they were going. Liesyl mentioned that she’d once lived in Bow (the little community I live in now) – her father had been a minister at the United Methodist church in Bow. And here comes even MORE magic…
Thirty-one years ago – before we’d ever suspected we’d someday be living in Bow – my husband and I were married in Gig Harbor (a town two hours away) by a minister who’d once been a Methodist minister in Bow. “Is your dad’s name ‘Russ’?” I asked her. Her mouth fell open and she nodded yes. “Is his last name ‘Meyer’?” I asked, and she said yes! “Your dad was the minister who married my husband and me 31 years ago in Gig Harbor!” I told her. And I told her about the wedding – how her dad’s sense of humor had fit right in with our event – and how he’d seen us laughing and yukking it up with our friends at the reception and told us that some couples he worries about – but that he knew we’d be alright.
Liesyl told me her dad had passed on suddenly fifteen years ago – and I was sad to hear this. We shared stories with each other, then, about her dad and celebrated him as we ate breakfast together.
As I was leaving I stopped to ask the man who had taken my order if I could take his picture for my blog. He graciously agreed. I asked him his name – he said “Charles” – and we realized that we were actually already Facebook friends. I’d been enjoying his posts and comments for many months! I love that!
(Here’s the photo I’m going to use for the cover.)
We’ve been in search of cool places during this scorching week in the Pacific Northwest. And we found some: A short walk brought us to the beach and boulders at Larrabee State Park. A nice little hike and a swim brought us some relief at Lake Padden. And an early morning stroll along the Bellingham boardwalk brought us happy camaraderie with fellow PNW inhabitants in search of a cooling breeze.
Below: Boulders at Larrabee; Briar takes a leap into Lake Padden while her human, Chris, looks on; Alex (jumping) and Darius go for a swim in Bellingham Bay. (Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)
I brought back a healthy guffaw, a new poem, and some photos of fawns and flowers today…
One of the things I’m most grateful for in life is those encounters I have every now and then with people who know how to laugh with me. I had one such encounter today with a woman named Lindsay.
I was returning from my walk along the Bellingham boardwalk when I saw a woman who appeared to me to be looking adoringly into her baby stroller. I glanced into the stroller – expecting to see a baby smiling up from there – but what I saw, instead, was a stuffed animal sitting in the stroller. And in my head – because this is the way my mind works – I made a whole little Saturday Night Live kind of skit about this – I shall not go into the details at this time – but if you are my friend I’m sure you can imagine how this might have played out in my pointy little noggin.
When I got to the other side of the stroller I was kind of relieved to find there was an actual youngster there, helping her mom push the stroller. I laughed and said to the mom – because I instinctively knew she would know how to have fun with this – “Oh, I’m so relieved! You have an actual child here! I saw you looking adoringly down into your stroller and all I saw was a stuffed animal in there! I was a little concerned.”
And, without missing a beat, Lindsay laughed back with me and said, “Yeah. I’ve been in isolation a REALLY long time.”
We introduced ourselves to each other – kindred spirits in Humoristianity – and Lindsay let me take her photo. (See below.)
A little fawn appeared on the path in front of me this morning and pretty soon was joined by a young sibling. They sort of checked me out and then bounded and leaped back into the bushes. (I like to think their mama was waiting for them in there.)
And I came back from Bellingham with this poem today:
She was so excited to see another baby Tottering back and forth on her toes in her glee Look! Another human like me!- Karen Molenaar Terrell
I had a most excellent morning in Bellingham: I saw fluffy goslings eating seagrass; a heron flapped and flew on cue for me so I could get photos of its amazing wings all spread out for lift-off; a crow and an oystercatcher bird got in a kerfuffle over blue mussels growing on the boulders; I met a puppy named Wilson and a new friend named Kim (I covered my mouth in embarrassment after I introduced myself as “Karen” and she started cracking up), and grandparents, Brad and Jean, who were so happy they finally got to take their toddler-granddaughter for a walk on the boardwalk now that they’re full vaxxed and the sun is shining (when I sheepishly introduced myself as “Karen” they laughed with me and Brad said, “Hey! I’ve heard of you!”). I threw my latte recyclables into the bins just before the construction crew lifted the bins up to remove them – and my new friends laughed with me when we realized that I had, basically, just thrown my paper cup through the bin’s flap and onto the ground (it reminded me of that schtick where Charlie Chaplin makes a point of opening the door to a house that has lost all its walls). There was this feeling of lightness and freedom on the boardwalk today – and I think it’s because we finally felt free to exchange unmasked smiles with each other – we were “vaxxed” and outside in the fresh air and ready to celebrate Life…
Quick announcement: The Scone Grown vegan scone shop is opening this Saturday, May 8th! The shop is located on the first floor of The Granary in Bellingham – located near the waterfront in the downtown area. The shop will be open from 1:30 to 8:00 (if they don’t run out of scones).
I’m so excited about this new business in our community!
So I’m lying in bed this morning and I realize I have a choice – I don’t HAVE to get out of bed today.
If I get out of bed there are sure to be problems and complications. I am almost guaranteed to make SOMEbody angry today. I am pretty much guaranteed to say the wrong thing to someone at the wrong time in the wrong place in the wrong way. I may get in someone’s way. Someone may get in MY way. I may lose my temper today. I may be thoughtless and unkind. I may die if I get out of bed.
On the other hand, I may die if I stay in my bed, too. I may miss out on a chance to be thoughtful and kind I may miss an opportunity to learn something new and to laugh, and meet a new friend, and see an eagle soar, and enjoy the sunshine on my face.
It takes courage to get out of bed each day.
To all the courageous people who dare to get out bed and face whatever comes between now and tomorrow – I wish you all the wonder and magic you find today because you got out of bed. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
And I DID see eagles soar! And I did meet new friends! Yesterday I rode my bike to Tweets in Edison (magic always happens at Tweets) and while I was waiting in line I met Kurt and Ashley – who were very fun and kind and patient with my Boomer self and showed me how to use Instagram to order my meal. And today I rode my bike to Sisters Espresso and met Izak – who is from Alaska and is on an epic bicycling adventure to California. I also met Ampan and Jason – who laughed with me when I put my smiley mask on upside down. There’s something so rejuvenating for me about connecting with new friends – a reaffirmation for me that the world IS full of wonderful people.
I usually hit the Bellingham boardwalk in the mornings for my walks – it’s quiet and empty then – the water is smooth and the reflections are great – and there are usually lots of birds near the shore before noon. But today I spent the morning doing tax stuff, so I didn’t get up to Bellingham until the afternoon. I noticed right away that the Bellingham boardwalk has a different vibe in the afternoons – busy and bustling and social. I found I enjoy the boardwalk THAT way, too.
The first people I encountered were a pair of women, sitting in folding chairs in a parking space in the lot across from where I parked. They were wearing masks and were at either end of the parking space – practicing safe pandemic restrictions – but they were obviously enjoying getting caught up with each other, and that made me smile. “I like what’s going on there,” I said, grinning behind my mask (I think a “smiley” voice sounds different than a straight-faced voice), “You’re making it work for you!” And they both started laughing and nodding their heads. I gave them a thumbs up, and they returned the gesture.
As I came to the crosswalk I noticed another woman waiting to cross the road there. “I’ll cross with you!” I said – hoping to cross at the same time so the cars wouldn’t have to wait for TWO different pedestrian forays across the road.
The other pedestrian laughed and said, “Let’s do it!” and then we both made an effort to get to the other side of the road in a timely fashion so the cars could go on about their business. We wished each other a good day as we reached the other side of the road and diverged onto our different journeys.
When I got down onto the boardwalk I noticed a family of four – parents and young children – trying to snap a photo of themselves and I volunteered to take a picture for them. The mom was really grateful – she said she’d been afraid to ask anybody to take their photo because of the pandemic – she didn’t want anyone to feel scared or worried – and I said it was no problem for me to take their picture. “One, two, three…” – they all smiled and I snapped.
There was a young man playing a guitar at Boulevard Park. He had an open case in front of him for donations. I looked in my wallet and found I didn’t have any small bills to put in his case, so I decided to get myself a mocha – knowing I’d get some cash back that I could give to the busker. I went up to order my mocha and the barista asked my name – which, until a year or so ago would not be a big deal, but I’m named “Karen” so… yeah. The barista was very nice about my name, though, and when she had to call my name out loud, I appreciated that the other customers were kind, too – they seemed to understand my embarrassment and let me know that they were on my side – complimenting my smiley mask, and laughing with me about the name-thing.
I gave money to the musician – he and his skate-boarding friend thanked me. And then I got back on the boardwalk and headed for my car.
By this time, the boardwalk was packed with people. I decided to take a side trail up to the top of a knoll, hoping I’d be able to get away from the crowd a little. I found a bench and plunked myself down on it and pulled down my mask to make a call to my favorite pizza place in Bellingham: Ovn Pizza. I was happy when Matt picked up the phone – I hadn’t heard his voice for months! Matt is the one who’d brought me such much-needed laughter last summer when I was struggling with the doings of 2020. Now I told Matt how happy I was to hear his voice again! I said, “This is Karen! Do you remember me?” He laughed and said, yes, of course he remembered me. I ordered my vegan pizzas and Matt said they’d be ready in 20 minutes or so.
As I was finishing my call to the pizza place another couple suddenly appeared on the knoll – and I quickly pulled up my mask. They seemed kind of surprised to find me on the knoll, too, and we all laughed a little nervously. I said, “We’re all trying to get away from the crowds down there, right?” And they both nodded their heads, looking relieved that I understood. Then the woman said she had to sit down for a moment because her sock had slipped down her foot and was bunched up at the bottom of her boot. “I hate when that happens,” I said, nodding in understanding. She laughed, took care of her sock, and then she and her partner said, “Have a good day!” and continued down the trail.
I continued on my journey and stopped to pick up the pizza I’d ordered from Matt. He came out – smiling behind his mask – and asked me how I was doing. We chatted for a bit – like old friends – and then he brought out the pizza (WITH habanero salt!) and I brought it back to my car.
By this time my husband had texted me to ask me to pick up some items at the grocery store. When I pulled into the grocery parking lot I saw a man sitting on the corner with a sign asking for help. I asked him if he’d like a piece of pizza and he said yeah, that would be nice – so I pulled off a piece of pizza and handed it to him. He thanked me and I headed into the store.
Some lemons, leafy lettuce, and a loaf of sourdough bread later, and who should I see but my friend Tauna and her husband, Ken, from Burlington! Normally I run into Tauna at the Burlington Fred Meyer store – so she was out of context here at the Bellingham Haggen’s – but it was awfully good to see her and Ken again!
I loaded up my groceries at the check stand into my new “SconeGrown” shopping bag – and let Tauna and Ken and the cashier know that SconeGrown is my son and his girlfriend’s new shop, opening in March – and that I’m going to be a “scone grandma.” The cashier knew right where their shop is going to be, and seemed pretty excited to hear about their new business.
When I got back to my car, the gentleman was still sitting on the corner. I asked him if he’d liked the pizza, and he said yes, he had. He thanked me again, and then – like pretty much everyone else I met today – he wished me a good day.
And as I sit here, processing my afternoon in Bellingham, it occurs to me that we’ve all seemed to find a way to make life work for us during these strange and interesting times: I, for instance, have used my name – “Karen” – to make new friends and have a good laugh; The two ladies I saw chatting in their folding chairs in the parking lot have found a way to have a socially-distanced coze with each other; The busker has found a way to keep singing his songs; The little family whose picture I took has found a way to have time together outside on a Saturday afternoon; And my friend of the pizza-place has found a way to keep handing out pizzas and kindness.
As Malcom said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”
And, as further proof, here’s a picture of a brand new spring bud I found on a tree while I was walking on the knoll. After a really long winter, spring is coming!
After a week away from Bellingham because of the snow and cold, I was in real need of a long walk on the boardwalk this morning.
I was looking for music to play on my drive up there, and found a CD – still in its hermetically-sealed wrapping – sitting in my car’s driver’s door pocket. I don’t know how I came by this CD. I don’t even know how long it was sitting in there. Years maybe. And the writing on it was too small for me to read (without glasses) who the musician was or what kind of music it might be. But what the heck, right? I was open to whatever came out. I slid that baby into my car’s CD player and started on my drive – curious to hear what treasure I’d found. Would it be some blues by Joe Bonamassa maybe? Or maybe John Prine or The Grateful Dead or Jason Mraz or Alison Krauss?
Hymns. Hymns came out of the speakers. The rousing old ones I used to sing in Sunday School. And I found myself tearing up at the inspiration I felt from the music flowing around me. Of course, I had to sing along: “He leadeth me, He leadeth me; By His own hand, He leadeth me…” (Joseph H. Gilmore)
So I got to Bellingham, parked by the Fairhaven Green, and started on my walk. It was amazing up there this morning – the lighting was incredible. My usual friends were there – the crows and seagulls and goldeneye ducks. I ordered my almond milk mocha from one of my favorite baristas at Wood’s (“Do you want whipped cream with that?” she asked, and I almost said “yes” automatically until I remembered that I’m trying to go vegan. “Good try!” I laughed, “You almost got me that time!” And she laughed, too.)
I sat down at a picnic table and sipped on my mocha and took pictures. A jogger in a red jacket stopped and pointed out a seal swimming in the bay to me, and I pointed out a sailboat just coming around in front of Wood’s. We smiled at each other through our masks (you can tell when someone’s smiling through a mask now, right?) and wished each other a good day.
I finished my mocha and started back along the boardwalk. The boardwalk was empty as I started my return trip and I started singing, “He leadeth me, He leadeth me; By His own hand, He leadeth me…” And just then the man in the red jacked came jogging by me. He startled me and I was a little embarrassed that he’d caught me singing. But he turned around ((for those concerned – he was about 10 feet away at this point), smiled a big grin as he went past, and said he likes to meditate on the boardwalk, too.
Everyone was so nice and friendly and kind this morning in Bellingham. It felt good to be back up there again.
Found things to make me smile in Bellingham, Washington, this week. Elise was wearing the Finnish Sami hat that she bought in France one year during Christmas; Raven the Pup was out and about with his humans, enjoying being petted by new friends; and a heron did a fly-over for me…