About Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karen's stories have appeared in *Newsweek*, *The Christian Science Monitor*, and *Pack and Paddle Magazine* and she's the author of *The Madcap Christian Scientist* series, *A Poem Sits on my Windowsill*, *Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom*, and co-author of *The Humoristian Chronicles: A Most Unusual Fellowship*. Her photos are featured in the spring 2014 edition of the *Bellingham Review*, and the April/May 2017 issue of *Mother Earth News*, and can be found at fineartamerica.com. http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Molenaar-Terrell/e/B0044P90RQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1312060042&sr=8-

Visitors from White Rock

I was waving to an Amtrak train as it sped past, and the lady next to me on the boardwalk saw what I was doing and started waving to the train, too. I knew, immediately, that she was a kindred spirit. 🙂  I chatted with Josephine for awhile then, and learned she and her companions were visiting from White Rock, Canada.

You meet the nicest people on the boardwalk…

Gifts in Bellingham

I’d heard about an Eckhart Tolle book, Guardians of Being, that sounded funand decided I’d stop by Village Books in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham to see if they had it in stock. First I stopped in at Tony’s to get a mocha from one of my favorite baristas – who showed me her latest tattoo – and then I sauntered across the street to Village Books to ask about the Tolle book. The young woman there looked it up on the computer for me and saw they had it in stock as a used book. While I went downstairs to see if I could find it, the woman who’d looked it up for me called ahead and asked the woman on the bottom floor to look for me when I came down the stairs. So when I appeared downstairs there was another young woman waiting for me – “You looking for Tolle?” she asked, smiling – and then led me right to the Guardians of Being. Now THAT, my friends, is customer service!

I took my new book and my mocha and headed to the path that would take me to the boardwalk along the bay. Before I started down the ramp to the boardwalk I decided I’d sit down on a bench and read Guardians of Being right then. Why wait, right? So I made myself comfortable and started reading my new book. It was a delightful read – very sweet, and profound. The illustrations by Patrick McDonnell were fun and made me grin. I was glad I’d bought it. It’s written for children and I was able to start and finish Guardians of Being in probably ten minutes.

After I finished my new book, I started down the ramp and to the boardwalk. When I got to the boardwalk I saw a beautiful picture of dolphins and stars, leaning up against the railings of the sheltered area by the dock. I saw the name “Neal” in the corner of it, and knew it had been painted by my new friend, Neal Cronic – I’d just met Neal the week before on the boardwalk. I looked around for Neal, but didn’t see him right away. I wondered if he’d accidentally left this painting behind and began wondering how I could get it back to him. Then I heard his voice calling to me from the area above the railings. He asked me if I liked this painting, and I said I did. He said he’d give it to me for half price. I told him I’d pay full price for it, but he would hear none of it. So I rooted around in my purse to see if I could come up with the money. I wasn’t able to find as much as I was hoping – but then I remembered the book I’d just bought at the bookstore – and it came to me that I’d bought Guardians of Being for Neal – so I gave Neal the money I’d found and Tolle’s book for the painting. Neal smiled and accepted the money and the book, and we talked for a bit, then, about the opportunities and adventures Life has given us recently. I told him I’d bring him a copy of my newest book, The Brush of Angel Wings, when we next met on the boardwalk.

After my chat with Neal I continued on my walk. I glanced over to the left and saw an animal – a seal, I thought – swimming into shore. I got out my camera and zoomed in and snapped a quick photo. But after I took my picture I realized that it looked more like a dog than a seal. When I got to Boulevard Park I saw a wet dog racing after a ball – one of the fastest dogs I’ve ever seen – and I asked the dog’s human if this had been the animal swimming in the bay. He answered in the affirmative. Mystery solved.

Later, as I was heading back up the boardwalk, I saw the dog again – this time chasing after the ball and leaping into the water from Taylor’s Dock. The sheer athleticism of the pup was really impressive, and I had to make a quick video. I walked down to the dock to find out more. I learned the dog’s name is Charlie, and was given permission to post my Charlie images.

As I was walking back up the ramp a man passed me and said, “What a beautiful painting! Did you paint that?” I told him no – that Neal Cronic was the artist, and that he could often be found on the boardwalk, selling his work. The man nodded, filing away Neal’s name in his head.

I’m home now, and about to hang Neal’s picture on my wall.

It was a morning of gifts.

 

 

A Walking Piece of History

Dad (Dee Molenaar, 99) is still in bed at noon.
Karen: Do you just want to stay in bed and rest today?
Dad: (looking up at me, hopefully) Unless somebody wants to go for a drive.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: Yeah.

A half an hour later Gwen has Dad dressed and fed, and we load him into my car. I head south on I-5.

Dad: When you and Scott retire are you going to travel the world?
Karen: That sounds fun!
Dad: I’ve seen a lot of the world. (This is an understatement.) I can tell you where NOT to go.
Karen: Where should we not go?
Dad: New York City.
(I’ve been to New York City and enjoyed it – but I’m wondering when Dad went and what he experienced there.)
Karen: Where else should we not go?
Dad: Well, you’re on the freeway. Any place from the freeway is fine. It’s easy to go anywhere from here.

Dad: Where are you taking me?
Karen: I thought we’d go south and see if we can see Rainier. It might be kind of hazy today, though. There’s a forest fire in Canada.
Dad: Rainier’s too far. Baker will be all clouded in today. (We pass a sign for LaConner.) Let’s go to the old waterfront part of LaConner.
Karen: You want to go to LaConner?
Dad: Yeah.

(As we’re driving through the countryside towards LaConner, Dad is taking note of what he sees.)
Dad: This area looks a lot like the midwest, except for the hills in the background.
(We pass a sign with a Dutch name on it and I point to it.)
Dad: Roozengarde – there’s a Dutch name. We could be driving through the Netherlands – except for the mountains in the background.

(We get to LaConner and Dad decides he wants to go to a museum. I’ve wanted to take Dad to the Skagit Historical Museum since he moved up here a year ago. Maybe today is the day this will happen. I drive to the museum and park maybe 30 yards from it. I don’t realize there are a lot of parking spaces closer to the museum, but, when I park where I park, 30 yards doesn’t seem like much of a walk. I am wrong. We unload Dad and his walker, and begin the walk to the museum. After about ten yards Dad says he needs to sit down, and we find a place for him to sit on a little wall.)

Karen: Let me go see if they have wheelchairs in there. Stay here. Are you alright?
Dad: (nodding) Okay.
(I go into the museum to see if they have wheelchairs. They don’t.  A rolling chair seems promising, though. I ask if I can use it to get Dad around, and Ann, the woman tending the counter, says sure. I bring the chair down to where Dad is sitting, and help Dad get into the rolling chair. A nice couple about to go into the museum approaches us to help. Steve says he can push Dad from the back, and Danielle guards Dad from the side, and I pick up Dad’s feet so they don’t drag on the concrete. When we get Dad inside he decides he wants to use his walker in there. He heads into the room that displays a history of technology.)
Dad: That looks just like my first car!
Karen: Your first car was a Model-T Ford?
Dad: Yeah. Model-T Ford. 1925.
(I am grinning now. I love that I’m walking through an historical museum with a walking piece of history. Dad is starting to get tired again, and we bring back the rolling chair for him to sit in. We head into the World War II exhibit. Dad served in the Coast Guard in World War II and he seems fascinated by what he sees in there. He notes that the Coast Guard doesn’t seem to be represented in there, but says that’s okay – the Coast Guard was more in the South Pacific, and this exhibit is more about the campaign in Europe.)

(Danielle, the woman who helped Dad earlier, approaches Dad to tell him she looked him up in Wikipedia and wants to thank him for his service during the war.  Dad thanks her and asks her if she was in the Coast Guard. Danielle says no, but her brother was. Dad likes that. I get a picture of Dad with Steve and Danielle. Dad asks me their names, and I introduce them. He shakes their hands. He has just met two new friends.)

(Dad is tired now. He’s ready to go home. With colossal effort he manages to use his walker to get himself back to the car – which I have now parked right next to the door.  He asks where we’re going now, and I tell him I’m going to get him a root beer float and then take him home. He nods his head in agreement. I stop for his root beer float.)
Karen: You really earned this one.
(Dad nods his head in complete agreement, and then we head to his home. Dad looks completely exhausted. He has sucked down his root beer float by the time we get to his place. I open the passenger door for him, and inch by inch he turns himself around in his seat.)

Dad: Every little movement takes so much energy now. And I need to rest after every movement. (He closes his eyes and sighs and leans back to rest for a few moments, before making another movement to get out of the car.) You have a doddering old Dad.
Karen:  No. I have a mountain-climbing Dad.
Dad: That was a long time ago. (He looks up at the house.) I think I’m going to take a little nap when I get in there.
Karen: I love you, Daddy. I’m proud to be your daughter.
Dad: I love you, too, and I’m proud to have you for a daughter.

Tweet’s in Edison: Where Magic Happens

In the little town of Edison, Washington, there is a place where magic happens. It is called Tweet’s, and I never fail to find friendship and laughter there. Also, really good food.

A couple years ago I wrote a post about running unexpectedly into the daughter of the Methodist minister who had married my husband and I three decades before in a town three hours away, on the other side of the Puget Sound.  I’d never met the minister’s daughter before and wouldn’t have known that we had any connection to each other if we’d just passed on the street. But we began chatting at Tweet’s as we ate our breakfasts, and discovered that her father had been the minister who had married Scott and me.

That same day I ran into some of my former students – and it was so good to see them again and to learn about the wonderful lives they were making for themselves. And it was that day, too, that I met WWU students Hannah and Marlo – and they later ended up being in the same classes as my youngest son.

Another morning at Tweet’s I discovered a table of young artists talking about their art – and, being who I am, I, of course, had to listen in to what they were saying from my little table in the corner of the deck. They were funny and bright and had me cracking up to myself in my corner. Soon a young man joined them – his hair was sticking up and he was kind of bleary-eyed and he announced to his friends that he’d just had an all-nighter watching an entire Zombie series on television. His humor and description of the TV show and his aura of good will completely won me over. As I left I stopped by their table and admitted I’d been listening in to their conversation and really enjoyed it. They all started laughing, and we chatted a bit before I left. A week or two later I ran in to the zombie-watcher at an espresso stand, recognized him, and introduced myself. He said, “You’re Karen?! My friends have been telling me I needed to meet you and your husband!” And he introduced himself as Benjamin Swatez – an artist who has worked with Syrian refugee children and other young people, doing art projects with them. He is an amazing human being. And I first met him at Tweet’s.

And yesterday I found more magic at Tweet’s. I found another old student there, Austin, who recently discovered his gift for photography. And I met some visitors from Vancouver, Canada, who’d passed me on their motorcycles as I pedaled my bike to Edison. They were friendly and kind and funny – and I had such fun chatting with them. And there was Charles – the owner of Tweet’s – coming over to greet me and give me a hug.

And, just now as I was typing this, I realized what’s so magical about Tweet’s: It is a place filled to brimming with love.

 

 

 

Exploring the Shores of Bellingham Bay

On the shores of Bellingham Bay…
Met Anthony and his way cool old Bellows camera as I started down the ramp to the boardwalk. At the bottom of the ramp I met another artist, Neal Cronic, who was working on some paintings and was recently the guest artist for the Bellwether Hotel…