A Cool Thing Happened Today

A really cool thing happened today. When I woke up this morning I woke up with a mission pinging around inside my noggin – and it was a really fine mission, too.  It came to me that I was supposed to get a Starbucks gift card for a teaching friend who had just passed the National Boards, and another for a teaching friend who was in the process of moving. The “how” I was going to get these cards to them, and the  “when” I was going to find time to get to a Starbucks I was not sure about, but…. details, details, right? I knew it would all work out somehow.

I hadn’t planned it, but I found I was running 15 minutes early this morning, so when I hit the freeway it occurred to me that I’d have time to stop by a Starbucks before work. I remembered, then, a Starbucks that sat off the freeway on a parallel road. Hah! I decided to give myself a little adventure before work – I’d stop off at the Starbucks, buy the gift cards, and buy myself one of those Starbucks holiday drinks, and then I’d take the parallel road for a while instead of getting back on the freeway and taking my usual route to work. I’d shake things up a little. :) I’d worry about how I’d get the cards to my friends (who work at different schools) later.

And then the really cool thing happened: When I got to the Starbucks I saw another teaching friend coming out of it – someone I really enjoy and hadn’t seen for a long time – and as she smiled and raised her hand to wave at me, it occurred to me that she worked at the same school as the teacher who’s in the process of moving! I could give the card to her to give to my other friend!

Michele and I hugged and when I told her about my plan, she was ready and eager to help me get the card to our other friend. She came back into the Starbucks with me and we had a few minutes to chat and laugh and hug again and get caught up a little before we both headed off to our respective schools.

And THAT had all gone so well that I felt inspired to continue my morning adventure and make an effort to get the second Starbucks gift card to its proper place. The friend who had passed the National Boards teaches at a school along the road that runs parallel to the freeway – I could, I decided, simply take that road as far as her school and drop it off on my way to my own school. Which is exactly what I did. And when I stopped at that school I ran into ANOTHER friend – a young woman who had once worked side-by-side with me during a year that had challenged both of us as teachers. Teresa has one of those smiles that can light up a room and as soon as I saw her I felt the positive energy just radiating from her. We hugged and laughed and reminded each other how much we had appreciated each other’s support during our challenging year. Then, because I realized I was now running late, I gave her another quick hug and continued on to school.

Which brings me to the final really cool thing: I wasn’t late! I arrived at school just as my first student arrived – perfect!

And the rest of the day was good, too. :)

T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas

Opening to The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book -

T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas

T’was two weeks afore Christmas and all through Eff Bee
not a creature was stirring – not a she, he, or me
We were prostrate and spent from the holiday bustle
not a twitch could be seen from the teeniest muscle.

We lay all unblinking in our respective beds
while visions of gift-wrapping swirled through our heads
And clad in our jammies and our way cool madcaps
we had the vague hopeful hope our bodies would take naps.

Holiday jangles and jingles pinged through our brains –
Presley, Crosby, and Mathis taking us down memory lanes –
and would we remember every member to be gifted?
We mentally went through our lists, hoping none were omitted

There were homes to be decorated and cards to be sent
parties, caroling, and cookie-making, and we hadn’t made a dent.
But with a collective sigh we remembered there and then
that it’s really about good will to all creatures, women, and men.

And so our thoughts finally settled and our bodies relaxed
as we thought of those we love and a world festooned in pax.
With our hearts wrapped in kindness and the world as our ‘hood
We’re all brethren and sistren – and verily, It’s all good! :)

- Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Great Rose Bush Rescue

Last spring on my walk through the neighborhood I noticed a rose bush growing up amongst the weeds and tall grass at the side of the road. It was kind of scraggly-looking, but it had cultured-looking leaves and a plucky little crimson rose dangling from one of the branches. It looked to me like the rose bush must have been forgotten and abandoned when the owners of the nearby house had moved out the year before. I was tempted, then, to dig it up and bring it home with me, but the house was up for sale now, and I figured it wasn’t my place to remove the rose bush. I really hoped, though, that whoever moved in would find the rose bush and recognize its value and nurture it back to health.

Months went by, the house remained uninhabited, and one day I noticed everything on the side of the road had been shaved off – including the rose bush. I could no longer find even a stubble of it. And then signs of a construction project began to appear there – heavy equipment and gravel and vegetation rolled flat. I kept an eye out for the rose bush – but could find no trace of it. I’d just about given up hope of ever seeing it again when, a few days after the heavy equipment arrived, I finally saw a twig with a rose leaf hanging from it sprouting out of the mashed-up blackberry vines and grass. I quickly scooted home, returned to the rose bush with a bucket and shovel, and dug her up.

By this time it was September. September is not the best time to dig up a rose bush, but I knew if I waited even another day that little rose bush would be toast. (I was right about that, too – the next day big concrete slabs were sitting in the place where the rose bush had been.) So I brought the rose bush home with me and prayed to know it as the idea of Love – held forever safe in the consciousness of Love.

And look at her now! :)

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rescued rose

 

Today is going to be a day. I’m pretty sure.

My dear Humoristian Hooligans – It is going to be a day. I’m pretty sure. And may yours be filled with silver linings and lemonade and early worms. Or… pots of gold?… I mean… may all the birds in your life sing trilly songs today, and may they not use the top of your head for target practice, and may your lemons all be turned into rainbows, or… umm… okay… here’s the thing: Today has you in it, so how bad could it be, right?…

today has you in it

(3rd Book) Introduction to The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New

(Introduction to The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New)

Vonnegut, Stevenson, and Adams Talking in My Head -

In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness. And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.” And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely. “Everything must have a purpose?” asked God. “Certainly,” said man. “Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. – Kurt Vonnegut

But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, “Well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in,” and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question that is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into, and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way. Man the maker looks at his world and says, “So who made this, then?” Who made this? – you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks , “Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me, and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male.” And so we have the idea of a God. Then, because when we make things, we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself, “If he made it, what did he make it for?” – Douglas Adams

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love… God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. I John 4

This year I’ve had the great good privilege of holding conversations with authors Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse Five and other equally amazing novels), and D.E. Stevenson (author of the Miss Buncle books). Okay, so I didn’t, like, actually talk to any of them in the person – seeing as how they’re all dead and everything, but I did have the great joy of reading their books for the first time this year, and sort of… well… talking to them in my head.

We all laughed together at the nonsense of life and humankind and ourselves, we chatted about God, and I found kinship with them in our similar views of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” (another of Adams’s books).

Adams and Vonnegut were atheists (I didn’t find any place in her writings where Stevenson actually voices her thoughts regarding a belief in God) and, although I do believe in God, I, too, am an atheist when it comes to an anthropomorphic god who lives in the clouds and zaps his children to hell periodically. I am of the opinion that THAT kind of a god should have long ago gone the way of Zeus and Mars and ridden off into the sunset on his fiery chariot never to be seen again except in the study of ancient cultures and literature.

I wish I would have found Adams, Vonnegut, and Stevenson earlier in my life. I can’t believe it took me so long. I’m sad that I didn’t get to know Adams – who was only five years older than me – when he was walking the earth. I’m sad that his sudden death at the age of 49 didn’t have the significance to me that it would have, had I known him then. I wish I would have understood , then , what his early departure meant to the world . And when I read his last book, The Salmon of Doubt – compiled in the year after his death by his friends and editors – I found myself sobbing when I got to the end of it – knowing there wouldn’t be any more. I felt like I had lost a good friend.

Kurt Vonnegut introduced his readers to the fictitious but way cool religion of Bokononism in his book, Cat’s Cradle, and I will be making periodic references to Bokononism in my book.

And D.E. Stevenson introduced me to the wonderfully enlightened and wise Miss Buncle, who’s brought me laughter and the comforting feeling that I am not alone as I pretend to be a grown-up.

I’m going to bring my new friends into this book with me. They are a part of my life now, and they need to be a part of this book, too.

Preface to Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

Preface to Dee Molenaar’s book, Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

A light breeze came up the canyon and through the pine boughs overhead, and soon isolated white specks began descending. The snowflakes increased and soon we were encompassed in a flurry that blotted out the semi-arid valley far below, and the trail penetrating the pines below the granite walls high above. In our present light apparel and on a short, leg-stretching hike after motoring from Death Valley 80 miles in the east, our “Old Cronies Expedition” took another prolonged look around, and turned back to the trailhead at Whitney Portal.

It was then that my brother K and I and our friends, George Senner and Bob Johnson, found we were not alone among these rugged mountains.

Coming down through the mists was a lone hiker.

The heavily-bearded, long-haired chap was traveling beneath a bulky backpack that suggested he’d been out for some time. However, the big coil of fiberglass rope tucked beneath a hatchet, a large cast-iron skillet, and soft-toed boots indicated this was no modern-day mountaineer with a fetish for the latest in lightweight travel.

He stopped briefly and we questioned him about his travels. He was originally from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and more recently from the Stockton area across the mountains. Tiring of the Bay Area drug scene, he was aiming for a change of pace and was now returning from a trip into the mountains. He talked confidently of his climbing experiences and we enjoyed his free-spirited philosophy before we parted. At a distance through the mist we followed his burdened figure down the trail.

Meeting this hairy 40-ish fellow on the Mount Whitney trail rekindled my thoughts of a half-century earlier – in 1937, a late-summer trip into the Sierras Nevada with my brother K, similarly clad in jeans and carrying unwieldy loads. In that day we also had the trail and the mountain pretty much to ourselves. But in today’s world, had we passed here a couple months later, during the summer’s climbing season, we would have been part of the mountain’s allowable 75 hikers registered daily for the 20-mile roundtrip to the top of Mount Whitney.

How times have changed since those youthful days of the 1930s, during the Great Depression and prior to World War II.

Yet my life since has been a succession of fortuitous circumstances – in many cases being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right person. And though the breaks never made me rich, they provided a bounty of fond memories of fascinating places and events, people and good friends.

- Dee Molenaar