Bellingham 9-28

I was feeling overwhelmed today. Depressed.

So I drove up to Bellingham after work for a walk on the boardwalk. I felt my body craving sunshine and fresh air and movement. And it was so lovely up there – seagulls flying, children laughing, the leaves just starting to change color, friendly smiles, families spending time together, jaunty little sailboats skimming across the bay. The youngest son was going to meet me for dinner in a little while, and I’d just gotten off the phone with the oldest son. I knew I’d see my husband soon. And I had one of those perfect, complete, love-filled moments – one of those moments when I KNEW everything was right with the world – a moment when I felt wealthy with love and peace. A moment when all the worries and fears about our planet just melted away and all that was real – the only thing that mattered, really – was love. I wish I could explain this better. But… it was really beautiful. It brought me peace.

I’m going to try to hang onto my memory of that moment in the weeks ahead…

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Teerrell)


New Friends on Mount Rainier

Last weekend my family and I gathered at Mount Rainier to do a memorial hike for my mom, who passed on six months ago.  I tell a little more about our weekend in a blog post on another wordpress site  – but I wanted to take time here to talk about some of the way cool people we met while we were at Rainier last weekend.

First, I have to mention this young man: I was looking around for someone who looked like they knew what to do with a camera, and saw him taking photos. I asked him if he would mind taking a photo of my family for me, and he said sure – and then he not only took one picture, but (like a true professional) took a few, just to be sure.  the man who took our picture this one

Then there was this couple – Kathy and Yonsin – who I met on my way down from a hike on the day of the eclipse. I asked them if they’d seen the eclipse and they said they didn’t have eclipse glasses, so I let them borrow mine. I loved watching the look on their faces when they saw what was going on up there…

Kathy and Yonsin

And as I stopped at Myrtle Falls to snap a picture, I ran into this group of enthusiastic young students from Central Washington University. They were taking a biome class at CWU that was taking them all over the state. They knew some pretty nifty stuff about science, too – they showed me how to look for the patterns in the shadows that showed there was an eclipse going on. Top row (from left to right): Carlee Carlucci, Jaelle Downs, Prof. Paul James, and Adam Hess. Bottom row: Clarissa DeLaVergne, Shiya Lin, Lee Thompson.

Carlee Carlucci, Jaelle Downs, Paul James, Adam Hess, bottom Clarrisa De LaVergne, Shiya Lin, Lee Thompson

There was all kinds of magic at Rainier last weekend – and a big part of the magic was the way cool people I met up there.

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…