Road Trip

Five sandy-colored cranes saunter through
a front yard in Manchester, Michigan
A dead coyote stretches across a lane
on a highway in the Montana sun
A white shape – a giant plastic bag maybe? –
sits in lily pads on a pond – and then
it fluffs its wings and it’s a swan!
In front of us, something tawny skips across the road
and into a root beer forest – a white-tailed fawn!
“RESIST HATE” reads a bumper sticker in Wisconsin
“THERE WILL BE A WALL” reads a tee shirt in S. Dak
“CA DRMN” reads a license plate in Michigan
“WALL DRUGS” reads a billboard in Idaho’s outback
A rangy motorcycling tourist in leather, his skin
weathered by rain and wind, sleet, sun and snow,
speaks with a Dutch accent or maybe German,
in the Crazy Horse exhibit, and does he know
that an American tourist is watching him and
he’s part of the exhibit for her, and does she know
that she’s part of the exhibit for the folks from France?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Can I Take Your Picture?

Can I Take Your Picture?

“Can I take your picture?” I ask the folks who sit
in a line of rocking chairs in front of a Cracker Barrel
store in Indiana. And they grin for me and I click.
“Can I take your picture?” I ask Joanna and Mitch
in the Anoka Independent Grain and Feed and they
give me broad midwestern smiles and I click.
“Can I take your picture?” I ask the international students
in front of Mount Rushmore and they quickly
line up in rows for me and beam and give me hope
for the world – maybe we’ll survive after all – and I click.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

One Hundred Years from Now

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

Did you know that in the 15th and 16th centuries people invaded countries, killed each other, and started wars over spices?! Yeah. That’s right. People killed each other over cinnamon and nutmeg. Today we might look back on those times and think, “What the heck?! Seriously?!”

And I’m thinking that 100 years from now when people look back on THESE times and learn that we invaded countries, killed each other, and started wars over oil, they’ll maybe say a 22nd century variation of “What the heck? Seriously?!” and they’ll ask in shock, “They killed each other over fossil fuels?!”

Or maybe they’ll be shocked that we hated each other for the color of our skin or our religion or our political party. Maybe when they learn that people of the 20th and early 21st century zipped alongside each other in earth-bound metal containers, traveling at speeds of 70+ mph, with…

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How Elections Should Be

I was really hoping all the candidates would be there that night so I could finally meet them and make new friends and shake their hands. If I lost (the most likely scenario, in my mind) I’d graciously congratulate the winners and wish them luck in the general election, and then go home and begin my retirement. If I made it to the general election myself I’d … well, I didn’t actually have that scenario figured out in my mind. I mean – what were the odds, right?

There were four of us running for this position, but the only other candidate to arrive at the courthouse that night was Rich, the incumbent. I was so glad to see him! We shook hands and chatted for a bit – talked about where we’d learned we shouldn’t put signs (do not put signs along state highways, or in parks – they will be confiscated), and our campaigns – this was the first time Rich had actually had to run against other people, so it was all kind of new to him, too. Bill was there, too – Bill is an incumbent, running for another school board position (he was the only candidate for his position to show up). There were also some candidates there for a local mayor’s race, and positions on the hospital board, and their supporters and families were there to celebrate with them if they won, and bolster them up if things went the other direction. It was a wonderfully convivial atmosphere. That was the thing that struck me most about it – everyone was so friendly and cheery – even the folks who were running against each other. And it struck me that this is how elections SHOULD be.

The position I was running for – school board director – is a non-partisan position, and the people on the school board have to work as a team to make decisions – no one person holds all the power and can make decisions by himself/herself. I think this is great. I got in a lovely conversation with a commissioner for the local port authority and we talked about that for a while- his position is non-partisan, also. He said he never endorses other people, and he never asks for endorsements, either, because he doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone or any party. His words really resonated with me. Right now our nation is so polarized between right and left, conservatives and liberals, that it was really refreshing to be able to talk to someone in a way that wasn’t divided between this thing and that thing.

When the votes were counted, Rich handily mowed all the rest of us down in the primary, but I managed to come in second and will be going on to the general election with him.

I had fun that night. I met some really wonderful people whose whole motivation for running seems to be to serve others. School board members and port commissioners don’t get paid for their work – it’s all voluntary – and I really enjoyed hobnobbing with other folks who have that service mentality.

Here are a couple pictures from that night…
(Photos by Scott Terrell.)

 

 

Transcript from Primary Night

Here’s a transcript from my interview with the radio show on primary night. My interview starts at about 24 minutes into the show. At about 27 minutes into the show – after I’d left – the hosts summed up the interview. I had no idea that they were still talking about me at this point – until I listened to the interview afterwards. Their words meant a lot to me.

Don Wick: We have Karen Molenaar Terrell here. She’s running for school board in the Burlington Edison School District, district #4. There are four individuals in that race. Two of them will move on to the general election. And Karen, tell me why are you running for school board?

Karen: Well, I’ve spent most of my life in education. I’ve been a teacher for more than 30 years and 20 of those years were actually in the Burlington Edison school district – I taught at three of the schools there – Allen and Edison, and West View… and I just retired from teaching at Emerson High School in Mount Vernon – which is an alternative high school. I just love being part of education. I love helping young people find their potential and find their path in life and I want to continue to be a part of that. Now that I’ve retired as a teacher I’d like to use all the experience and wisdom that I’ve gained as a teacher on the school board. I think I could do a lot of good there.

Don: You have a lot of passion for this.

Karen: I do. I love education – I love the students, I love working with the students, and I enjoy teachers and everybody that’s involved in education and in the process. I do have a passion for this.

Don: What are some of the issues that you would like to see the school board undertake.

Karen: As a teacher my first priority was always the safety of my students. I think I would carry that into my position on the school board, also. I think we have a problem right now with students not feeling like they belong, or feeling isolated or feeling bullied and picked on on social media, and there’s an opioid crisis. We have some emotional and mental health issues. And I’d like to address that with peer mentoring programs maybe, with time spent every day where students can share concerns that they have, and with a counselor-student ratio that’s healthy. I know the counselors that I’ve met are feeling kind of overwhelmed sometimes. There’s so many students. I’d like to work with those things

Don: Well, Karen, It’ll just be a few minutes and we’ll see whether you move on to the general election in November.

Karen: You know, I’m feeling really good about everybody who’s running for this position. I don’t think the district is going to lose because everybody who’s running – all four of the candidates – have something really unique and special that they can bring into this position. So it’s kind of a no-lose situation for the district.

Don: Who’d you vote for?

Karen: Well, THIS time I voted for Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Don: Karen, thank you so much for joining us.

Karen: Thank you.
***
Here’s what the hosts said after the interview was done:

“Very honorable reasons that she has for running. You can tell she’s speaking from the heart – she has a passion… the district would be well-served by having her as a school board member. She mentioned that the other candidates are also great and that shows a lot of class. In this day and age… that’s a somewhat rare, you might say, nationally – bordering on non-existent. We live in a great community.”

Click here to hear the show.

Be Kind. Be Brave. Do Good.

Dear students:

Remember during our history classes together when we talked about the Holocaust, and slavery? Remember when we watched The Grapes of Wrath and talked about how the migrant workers who came from Oklahoma to California were treated during the Great Depression? Remember when we talked about The Trail of Tears the Cherokees were forced to take? Remember how we talked about the colonization of Africa? And non-violent resistance against British rule in India? And the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WWII? And remember when we read about the prejudice and discrimination shown towards the Italians, and the Irish, and the Chinese when they first arrived in the United States?

And remember how we wondered together what we would do if we were living during those times? Would we be heroes like Schindler and Irene Sendler and Gandhi, or would we be the other people in history – the ones who just turned a blind eye to the horrors and atrocities and pretended to themselves that this wasn’t happening?

Well, now we have the opportunity to find out. We are living right this moment during one of those times in history.

Be kind. Be brave. Do good.
I love you.

– Mrs. Terrell

Ways to help –
– “Advocates say the fastest way to help immigrants separated from their children is to post bail.”
– Also: Pay for immigration lawyers; contact local law enforcement and ask that they not partner with ICE for raids or other purposes; and the usual stuff – march, writer letters to politicians, protest.

Dad Is Shrinking

Dad is shrinking. His clothes are getting baggy on him.

He is sitting at the dining room table when I get there – a full plate of avocado and eggs in front of him. He is not interested in the food. His head seems heavy on him – it keeps dropping. I ask him if he wants to sleep and he nods. Megan joins us and helps Dad move to a recliner in the living room. I sit in a chair next to him and hold his hand and we watch an old re-run of Match Game with Gene Rayburn, Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, et al. As I see those old faces from my youth I find myself wondering which of those fine folks are still alive.

Dad looks over at me and mouths the words, “I love you.” And I mouth them back to him.

At the end of the re-run I get up to leave. I kiss Daddy on the forehead.
Dad: Are you going to take me home now?
Karen: No. I’m just going to let you rest here for a while.
Dad: (Nodding.) Okay.
Karen: (Waving good bye.) Good bye, Daddy. (I blow Dad a kiss.)
Dad: (Blows me a kiss good-bye.) Good bye.

Are You Taking Me Home Now?

*Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad* can be ordered through your favorite book store or ordered online through Amazon.