Karen in the Kitchen

First, I will don my way cool apron that my friend from Canada sent me, and that has the Canadian word “Eh?” written on it in really flamboyant letters.  Of course, putting on the apron isn’t going to actually keep me from having flour all over me by the end of my culinary adventure – but I think I look sort of cute in it. And that’s the important thing.


Next I will haul the turkey out of the fridge, where it’s been thawing since Sunday. I will dice home-grown onion and garlic, apples from our orchard (yes, apples – using apples in turkey stuffing is a Karen tradition – because I, traditionally and invariably, FORGET TO BUY CELERY!!! and then I find myself scrambling around the kitchen, looking for something crunchy I can throw in the dressing… and… yeah… well… apples …and, true to tradition, I just realized that I, once again, FORGOT THE CELERY!!!), and toasted Dave’s Killer Whole Grain Bread (the bread will be toasted, not Dave).  I’ll sprinkle sage and rosemary over everything that’s within arm’s reach (this includes the dog, the cats, and the sons). Then I will yank out the turkey’s innerds, and replace it with toasted Dave, and put the whole shebang in a pre-heated 325 degree oven.

Pie-making comes next. I love making pies. There’s something kind of comforting about pie-making. I especially love making pies when there’s rain pounding against the windows, and a fire in the woodstove – the rain adds a certain ambiance, and it looks like we might be getting a lot of ambiance today.  I’ll combine the flour (2 cups), and butter (2 tbs, plus 2/3 cup) and water (6 tbs) in a bowl, and then grab half of it and roll it out on a floured cutting board, and lay it in the bottom of my glass pie plate. The bottom crust will be a picture of perfection – it will be seamless and smooth. Next, I’ll put the frozen blackberries that I picked last summer into the pie shell. I’ll add 4 or 5 tbs of flour, and 6 tbs of sugar, and loosely mix the pie’s filling.  Now it’s time to roll out the top crust and place it on top of the pie. The top crust is the crust that everyone will see. It will have holes and tears in it. That is another Karen tradition. Once I’ve got my holey crust attached to the pie, I’ll lightly sprinkle sugar over the top, to make the pie look sort of sparkly when it’s done.

By the time we sit down for our feast, our plates will be full of turkey, stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon, and cranberry sauce, and we’ll be half-way through dinner before someone – probably one of the sons – will ask me about the dinner rolls. And they will either be burning in the oven, or still sitting in the cupboard. It is another Karen tradition.

May your holidays be filled with a feast of love and laughter.  And don’t forget the dinner rolls.

– Excerpt from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book


Ode to Black Friday

I do not like Black Friday, sir
I do not like the brrr, grrr, whirr
I do not like to fight over socks,
I do not like to get crammed in a box
store,  you will not see me at the Mall
I do not like it, no, not at all.
The crazy, scrambling, hunter’s race
Doesn’t fit my ambling, gatherer’s pace
I like to feel, I like to sniff
I like to take my time and if
I take more time than Sally and Sam
It’s the way I shop, and it works for me, ma’am.
So you will not find me camped outside the store
You will not find me standing at dawn at the door
You will not find me wedged in the mall’s lot
Or crammed in traffic, with wares newly-bought.
For I do not like Black Friday, friend.
Well, except online shopping maybe – they’ll send.

– Karen  Molenaar Terrell (originally published on humoristianity.wordpress.com on 11/21/2012)

In Support of President Obama’s Immigration Executive Order

(originally published January 25, 2014)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
– Emma Lazarus (words on the Statue of Liberty)

The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same         Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures


Have I ever mentioned that I am the descendant of illegal immigrants? Yup. When my grandfather and his brother immigrated here from The Netherlands they were supposed to each have $20 in their pockets to get into the country. They only had one $20 bill between them – so when they passed through the line at Ellis Island the first one held up the $20 bill and then under-passed it to the one behind him who, in turn, held up the same bill. Those two hooligans should never have been allowed in this country. And, I shouldn’t really be here, either, I guess. Or half of me shouldn’t. Half of me should probably be shipped back to Amsterdam, home of my hooligan grampa.

That might be kind of messy, though. And I’m not sure how, exactly, they’d decide which half of me to send back.

My other half is descended from people who immigrated from a German colony along the Volga River in Russia. And also Basque reptile aliens. I’m pretty sure. (My mom has rh negative blood which – according to highly scientific research I googled 🙂 – seems to indicate she has a Basque reptile alien somewhere in her background. Yeah. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this.)

We are all immigrants in the United States, aren’t we?  I mean, human life did not start here – everyone immigrated from somewhere else.  It’s believed the first immigrants crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia to Alaska and then worked their way down through North and South America. Then came the Vikings, Columbus, the Mayflower, the Dutch, Spanish, and French, Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, slaves from Africa, the Irish and Chinese, the Japanese, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, refugees from southeast Asia, immigrants from India and the Middle East… and all of these immigrants – with the exception of those who were forced here on slave ships from Africa – have one very important thing in common: They came here in search of a better life.

Are the newest immigrants to our country really so much different than the first immigrants? The newest immigrants, too, are looking for a better life for themselves and their families – looking for work, education, religious and political freedom.

Why would any of us – descendants of immigrants ourselves – want to deny others the same opportunities we and our ancestors had?

Pres. Obama is my hero right now. It would have been awesome if congress could have worked together and taken care of the immigration question for us – but since they couldn’t and wouldn’t – I’m so very glad our president had the courage to do so.


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. 🙂