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.

 

 

 

New Friends

Made some new friends this weekend on my trip from Bellingham to San Diego: there was Kisha, the little girl who sat next to me on the plane – as we landed, her Dad put on her left shoe while I put on her right; there was Gunnar, who made art in the sand to celebrate his sister’s wedding;  there was the white crane who sat on the dock and patiently posed for me while I snapped his picture; there were the seal youngsters who basked in the sunshine on the rocks; there was the man with the Murray for President t-shirt – we laughed together about the current state of politics in America (because sometimes you just gotta laugh at the absurd); and there were the motorcycle dudes at the Soledad Memorial who invited me to come up and join them for a picture (I declined, but appreciated the sentiment 🙂 )…

Sunset at Oceanside (taken with my cellphone, because, of course, I ran out of battery with my actual camera)…

San Diego sunset

And other sights that tickled me…

 

Sauk Mountain Dazzled

It was so beautiful on Sauk Mountain yesterday that I teared up from the sheer dazzling wonder of it. The wildflowers were amazing – Indian paintbrush, and tiger lillies, and daisies – and the air was scented with that sagey alpine smell that I’ve only ever smelled in the mountains. A marmot was whistling his song, and the sound of laughter echoed through the hills as a group of about a dozen friends and their mascot, Sadie, worked their way up the switchbacks. It was a perfect hike in every single way.

2015 Favorites

2015 rocked! I made new friends, connected with some old ones, and saw some amazing sights. Here are some of my favorites memories from 2015…

Double Rainbow in Bow

I think there must be a rainbow farm to the east of my deck – I’ve seen three or four rainbows growing out there in the last couple years. Last night the rainbow orchard yielded some really beautiful fruit…:)

A Most Weird and Wonderful Morning

I have had a most weird and wonderful morning. I rode my bike over to Tweet’s 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 skooters! We talked about their skooter 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.

wedding photo

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! 🙂

Magic.