Vladimir’s Shoes

I have something to share – but I want to preface this by saying this is not a “I’m-so-cool” story – this is a… wow… when-people-learn-you-want-to-do-something-good-they-celebrate-that-and-want-to help story. This is a people-are-good story. This is a God-will-find-a-way-to-provide-for-Her-children story – and sometimes God will provide by using US. And when that happens – when we’re the ones who are in the right place at the just right time – it is magic!!

So. I guess this story starts a week ago when I saw a homeless lady sitting near Tony’s Coffee Shop with her shopping cart home. I asked her if I could get her a coffee or something, and she came with me to Tony’s and I got her a scone and a mocha. She was/is very cool and I consider her a new friend.I ran into her again today – we were happy to see each other again! – and she asked if I could get her a sandwich for lunch. I said sure – I’d get her something after my walk.

After my walk I came back to my new friend and she introduced me to another homeless person – a young man my youngest son’s age – he said he didn’t need anything to eat, but – and he lifted up his foot to show me his shoe (the bottom of his shoe was hanging to the top by a few stitches – it was flapping around) what he really needed was a new pair of shoes. Then he wandered off – not expecting anything from me – and I went to get a sandwich for my friend and to get myself something to eat at the Colophon Cafe.

When I came out of the Colophon the young man was sitting next to my friend again. I asked him if he knew of any shoe stores near by – and he looked at me in shock – “Are you going to get me shoes?” he asked, with a mixture of uncertainty and hope. I told him yeah – he couldn’t go walking around in those shoes he was wearing. So he got off the bench and we went on a quest for new shoes.

As he was walking his shoe kept flapping against the pavement and he joked that it was making music – it was like a drum. He asked me my name and I hesitated… because… you know… people with my name are sometimes hesitant to say it these days 🙂 …but I told him “Karen” and waited for a reaction. He apparently hadn’t heard about the Karen memes, though, and when I told him what “Karen” has come to mean, he laughed and said, “You are the least like that person that I know!”

He told me his name was Vlad – short for Vladimir – and he’d been born in Russia, but adopted when he was young by people in Minnesota. I asked him what he was doing out here and he said he really liked it here. We talked some more about his circumstances – and as I got to know him better I felt all my motherly instincts coming out.

After several stops, we finally found a place that sold men’s shoes – “Fairhaven Runners” – and went in to investigate (everyone in my family has purchased shoes at Fairhaven Runners at some point). Vlad found some shoes that he really liked and the shoe salesclerk – who quickly grasped what was happening – patiently explained to Vlad how he could measure his feet for the shoe size and then went back to fetch some shoes for him to try on. As Vlad was trying on shoes, the salesclerk asked Vlad if he could use some free socks and Vlad looked up at him with a smile on his face and nodded his head. The salesclerk went in the back room and then came out and tossed Vlad some free new socks for Vlad to wear with his new shoes.

I told Vlad he could leave with his new shoes now and I would take care of everything for him in the store. Vladimir thanked me and went out smiling. There was a lady standing behind us in the store and she asked me, “Did you just buy him new shoes?!” She looked like she was crying. She said that it was really beautiful what she’d just witnessed. Isn’t that lovely?!

And then – get this! – when the salesclerk rang me up he gave me a 20% discount! And THAT had ME tearing up. People WANT to do right by each other, don’t they?

I felt like I was walking on holy ground today. I think… I think it all balances out, you know? – Good disperses itself throughout the cosmos – and I know I’ll always have what I need – there’s no lack – there’s no competition – there’s no need to go through life clutching and afraid and feeling like Good is limited and finite, and if someone else has enough then I won’t have enough.

Sure, there have been times when I’ve been led to say “no” – times when I’ve felt that giving money to someone wasn’t going to really help him – I’m not completely naive when it comes to stuff like that. But this time – today – I knew it was right. And it felt really good that I was there to be used by Love in this way.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here are some photos of my new friend, the salesclerk who helped Vlad and me, and Vlad’s old shoe…

We Will Always Share This Bond

We’ve learned a lot about ourselves
in the last four years, haven’t we?
We’ve learned what we’re made of,
what needed to be fixed, what’s
important to us, and what we love.
We came together, worked shoulder-
to-shoulder, side by side,
bolstering each other up,
sharing inspiration, sharing the ride,
sharing a good laugh now and then,
letting Love guide.
We’re maybe not looking our best –
we’re battle-weary, battered, bedraggled –
but we’re not beaten.
And look at all we’ve done together!
We will always share this bond, my friend.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Registered Democrat Here

Registered Democrat here. A few things –
1) I’ve never collected welfare.
2) I’ve never collected unemployment.
3) I’ve never been on Medicaid.
4) I’ve never had an abortion.
5) I’ve worked almost my entire adult life as a teacher.

More things:
1) Although I’ve never needed welfare, unemployment compensation, or Medicaid – I’ve never begrudged these things to the people who DO need them. I don’t mind contributing to a federal pot of money to help my fellow Americans who are in need. I consider that is one of the privileges and responsibilities of being a citizen of this country. It’s not all about me. It’s not “me first.” Being a citizen of the United States is about being a part of something bigger than myself. It’s about caring for the well-being of others in my country, too.

2) Although I’ve never had an abortion – was never in a position where that was something I needed to think about – I don’t believe it’s my place to make that choice for another woman. Being pregnant is a big deal. Childbirth is a big deal. Women die from these things. Medical decisions regarding a woman’s health should be between the woman and her doctor – and are not anyone else’s business. My pregnancies were planned and celebrated. I was healthy. My sons were healthy in the womb. We anticipated our sons’ births with great excitement and joy. But I can imagine circumstances being different. I have friends who had to make that choice – and I know it wasn’t easy for any of them. NO ONE IS FOR ABORTION.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“…freely ye have received, freely give.” – Matthew 10:8

God, Guns, Country?

God, guns, country? Maybe y’all are reading a different Bible than me…?
“Thou shalt not kill.” – Exodus 20
“Blessed are the meek.” – Matthew 5
“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” – Micah 4
“God is love.” – I John 4

Even on the Challenging Days

You know what? Even on the challenging days –
the should-have-stayed-in-bed days –
there is still Love. There is still Truth. There is still Good.
Nothing can separate us from what really matters –
not lost phones, nor spilled juice, nor forgotten passwords.
When it all shakes down, when the breakable shatters,
still there is Love.-
Karen Molenaar Terrell

Going Home to Rainier

My husband and I came back to Mount Rainier this weekend. We rented the Jimmy Beech House – the same house where my dad, Dee Molenaar, celebrated his 100th birthday two years ago. It felt good to be back. I remembered Dad surrounded by his old mountaineering friends and his family as they celebrated him. He sat in that chair and slept in that bed. And he laughed and reminisced and stuck his finger in the icing of his cake right over there.

It rained on us this weekend – buckets of wet fell from the sky and dumped on us – it was GREAT! While we were inside we drank tea and watched movies and The Seahawks and sat in front of the fire in the fireplace – it was very cozy. But we also went hiking, of course, because… well, that’s what hikers do, right? We drove up to Paradise on Saturday and did a quick hike up to Alta Vista to say hi to Mom and Dad’s ashes. It stopped raining for a bit and we watched the clouds drift by in the valley below us. When we got back down to Paradise it started snowing – great windy gusts of snow blowing in our faces and whipping around us – the first snowfall of the season there. We’d started a second hike, but turned around at Myrtle Falls because of the weather.

Today we drove back up to the park, but only went as far as Longmire this time. (When we entered the park we were told by the ranger lady that there was a lot of snow at Paradise now and traction tires were recommended. I’m glad we got up there yesterday.) So we did a quick easy hike on the Trail of Shadows loop and then hiked a bit up the Wonderland Trail towards Cougar Rock Campground.

I told my husband about a hike I remembered doing years ago in my twenties – Eagle Peak – and thought maybe that was something we could do while we were at Longmire – I remembered it as fairly easy. But when we checked it out we saw it was labeled “strenuous” and was more than seven miles long with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Which. What the heck?! I started sort of chuckling then, remembering my strong young self – and the adventures I used to have – going off by myself for a “quick hike” of some peak. I’m so glad I had those adventures! And I’m also really glad I survived them.

I didn’t mention my dad to strangers all weekend. This is kind of a big deal for me. Normally I find every opportunity to let people know I’m the daughter of a famous mountaineer and I used to work at Rainier and… and… did I mention I’ve climbed to the summit? But this weekend I kept all that a secret. I asked other people for directions. I played the part of the tourist. And it felt really good.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here are some photos from this weekend…

The Great Division of 2016-2020

The Great Division of 2016-2020

Grandma, what did you do
during The Great Division?
Were you a part of the revision?
Were you a part of the decision
to follow a new vision
and heal the fission?
Did you walk in marches
and write letters?
Did you go to rallies
to make things better?
Did you do everything you could
to help the jobless and poor
the disenfranchised and mocked –
could you have done more?

Grandma, did you vote?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so, and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others.”
– from “Miscellany” (p. 276) by Mary Baker Eddy

Women’s March, January 2018
BLM rally in Burlington, WA.

“You can’t scare her. She survived 2020.”

My dear Humoristian hooligans –

2020 has been a crazy ride, hasn’t it? Dad died on January 19th and two days later the first case of COVID was reported in our state (and the country). Dad had good timing. 2020 has brought COVID-19, murder hornets, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, plagues, pestilence, political insanity, and every emotion a person can possibly feel – grief, terror, anger, fear, and also immense love, gratitude, and, (especially lately) hope. And, sitting here, I just realized I’m not “ascared” anymore. At some point – maybe when the craziness reached epic and absurd proportions – the fear just dissolved. It was like – okay, what else you got? Bring it on, baby! I think it’s going to be hard to ever again scare anyone who’s survived 2020. (I just had a flashback of one of my favorite cartoons – a lady with a bun on top of her head, whistling in hell – and one of the devil’s helpers saying to him: “We can’t scare her. She was a middle school teacher.” As a former middle school teacher that one always cracked me up. I think that same cartoon could have the caption: “You can’t scare her. She survived 2020” and it would still work. 🙂

Keep working your magic, my friends! Keep shining your light! The world has need of your pluck and courage and unfailing kindness!
– Karen