Dad and I and a Flock of Snow Geese

When I arrive at Dad’s house he’s still in bed and looks to be sleeping. I lean over and kiss his forehead and his eyes flutter open. He squints up at me.
Dad: Is it time to eat?
Karen: Yeah. Are you hungry?
Dad: Yeah. I’ll get up.
Karen: Okay.

I let Amanda know that Dad’s ready to get up. I ask her if she thinks he’d be up for a drive today and she tells me she thinks he’d like that. She says he gets bored staying at home all day. It’s harder now because he needs to use a wheelchair – but Amanda tells me she and Dietrick will help me get him in the car.

Before long Dad appears from his room, sitting in the wheelchair – he looks kind of majestic – like a king on his throne. He’s dressed and shod and is wearing his alpine hat. Dietrick and Amanda roll him down the ramp and out to my car, and, together, manage to get him in the seat. I buckle him in and we’re good to go.

As we’re driving out of town and onto Chuckanut…
Dad: I haven’t had breakfast, yet.
Karen: Let’s get you a breakfast sandwich. (I head down Chuckanut Drive for Sisters Espresso. On the way, Dad says something that I can’t quite hear. I lean over and ask him what he said…)
Dad: I love you.
Karen: Oh Daddy! I love you, too!
(We arrive at Sisters Espresso and I order Dad a cocoa and a sandwich. I hand him his breakfast and we get back on the road.)

There are no volcanoes visible today, but I figure Dad will just like cruising through the countryside for a while. As I’m driving along Field Road I spot some waves of snow geese taking off and landing – it looks like they might be off Sunset Road – so I head that direction. Sure enough! Soon we come upon a lively flock of snow geese doing snow geese stuff. I pull over to the side of the road and roll down Dad’s window so he can hear them and watch them performing their flight maneuvers, and I grab my camera and take some photos. Then it’s back on the road again – heading for Dad’s home.

When we get to his home I wheel the wheelchair over to Dad – I’m going to try to get him in the chair without bothering Amanda – I know she’s having a busy morning. I have some trepidation about this, but Dad seems to understand what we need to do together, and I know I have a good partner in him. I hold out my hand to give him something to leverage himself on and he manages to turn himself in the seat a little. I gently grab one foot and help him lift it over the car’s side and onto the ground. I know it’s his other leg that gives him some trouble – so I am especially gentle as I help him lift the other foot over the side of the car. He winces and groans a little. I look up at him anxiously and touch his cheek with my hand. He holds my eyes with his and says, reassuringly, with quiet conviction, “I’m fine.” I know he doesn’t want me to feel bad. I have learned some tricks for lifting him up in the last few years and, together, we manage to get Dad standing and then sitting in the wheelchair. I feel inordinately proud of us.

I wheel him around the house to the ramp, tilt him back, and push him up the ramp and into the house. We settle down in front of the TV – I’m sitting on a chair behind Dad, rubbing his shoulders. He reaches up and grabs my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. When Amanda comes out to take Dad into the bathroom I know it is time for me to leave.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.

Grateful for…

I am grateful for family and friends;
a home full of love,
and memories without end;
Clara Kitty, Sparky, and Superdog Sam;
and the challenges
that have helped make me who I am;
clothing and shoes;
a fire in the stove;
the times I win and the times I lose;
potatoes and pies;
otters, deer
and butter-dragonflies;
picas and marmots;
university and public school;
cameras and words
and all the other tools
we have for sharing the
world’s beauty and joy
with each other;
baby animals and young
people and older people;
and laughter;
people with a sense of humor;
and the rainbow that comes after;
people who wave from the train;
people who smile back;
mountains to climb
and trails to backpack;
food in the pantry; laptops,
cellphones, the internet;
water, toilets, electricity;
and books newly-met;
blue skies, puffy clouds,
rainbows, sunrises and sunsets;
music; flowers; malty autumn
leaves and sparkly snow;
the intuition that tells me
which way to go;
the First Amendment
and Democracy;
courage, honesty, and generosity;
walks along the briny bay;
and waking every morning
to a fresh day;
Truth; Life, and Love never-ending,
always new;
and I am really grateful to know YOU.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Happy Thanksgiving!
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Tree Feathers and Swan Leaves

Tree feathers drifting
Swan leaves haloed
in sunlight slanting
through November’s
silver sky. The horns
and honks of happy
flapping trumpeters
and snow geese fills
the Skagit Valley.
This is my home.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Trumpeter Swans Fly over Skagit Valley

“1918?!”

Dad is sitting in the kitchen, finishing breakfast, when I arrive. I ask him if he’d like to go for a drive or if he’d like to stay home and rest, and he says, “Drive.” Dietrick and Amanda wheel him out to the car and help him get into the passenger seat. We buckle up and begin our adventure.
Dad: I’m so glad to be getting out!
Karen: I’m glad we’re going on another drive, too!
Dad: We’re heading west now, I think.
Karen: Yup!
Dad: And now we’re going under I-5.
Karen: Yup.
Dad: There’s the top of Baker! (He keeps his eyes on Mount Baker until it disappears behind the hills.)
Karen: Let’s go see if we can find Mount Baker again. (I plot a route in my head that will give Dad another view of Baker. On our route I pass a field of trumpeter swans. I, of course, have to pull over and get some photos. Dad is very patient with me while I snap pictures. And then I get back in the car and head for Thomas Rd. I plan to stay on Thomas from one end of it to the other – Dad should have a pretty good view of Baker from most of Thomas Road. I can see Dad scanning the horizon, looking. And then Baker appears and I point to it.)
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah. Mount Baker. (Dad keeps his eye on the mountain – I know he must have been thirsting for the sight of a volcano the last couple weeks while he’s been house-bound and the weather has been cloudy.)

Sisters Espresso is closed temporarily while old gas tanks are removed from under the parking lot, so I head for another espresso stand I know is on our route. Dad has earned a treat, for sure. I pull into Diedrich Espresso and pull up to the window. I ask the barista, Jenna, if they have vanilla shakes there, and she says they do! While she’s making Dad’s shake I tell her my dad is 101 years old. Her mouth, literally, drops open. She says she would have guessed he was maybe 70, at the most. (Which makes me wonder how old she thinks I am – but, to my credit, I let that one slide.  )
Karen to Dad: You’re 101. She thinks you look 70.
Dad: (Smiling.) Seventy-ONE.
Jenna to me: What year was he born?
Karen: 1918.
Jenna: 1918?!
Karen: Yeah. He was born before women had the right to vote.
Jenna: (Grinning.) Wow! He’s seen a lot of presidents! This is the first person I’ve ever met who was over 100! How does he stay so fit?
Karen: He’s a mountain climber. Actually, he’s kind of famous. You can find him in wikipedia. (I always love throwing that out there.  )
Jenna: What’s his name?
Karen: Molenaar (I spell it out for her) and his first name is Dee.
Jenna: I’ll look him up!
(Jenna hands me Dad’s shake and my change – I leave her a tip – and I hand Dad his shake.)
Dad: Thank you! Are you going to get one, too?
Karen: No, I’m fine.

I drive Dad back to his home.
Dad: I recognize this place.
Karen: Yup. (I go in to get help to get Dad out of the car and into the wheelchair. Megan volunteers – bless her heart! – and comes out to the car. When Dad sees her coming, he waves through the window at her. She starts laughing…)
Megan to Dad: Hello!
(Amanda comes out and joins us and she and Megan help Dad out of the car and into the wheelchair.)
Karen: (I hand Dad his milk shake) Thank you for the drive today, Daddy. I love you.
Dad: I love you!

(Here are some photos of trumpeter swans I took today – some while I was with Dad, and some while I was on my own.)

“I hope he’s not alone.”

Dad is in the kitchen when I get there, working on his breakfast. He looks up and sees me.
Dad: Hi, sweetie!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I don’t think I can today.
Karen: Oh. (I watch him eat for a while. It’s a long process these days. Eating takes a lot of energy.) What are you doing today?
Dad: I don’t know.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive or do you want to stay home and rest?
Dad: I’d rather go for a drive, but I don’t think the authorities will let me leave.
Karen: If you want to go for a drive we can go. (I let Gwen know that Dad’s up for a drive and she fetches his shoes and hat and gets him ready.)

We head out on today’s adventure. As we’re driving through Burlington I point to the autumnal trees…
Karen: See? The trees are changing color. It’s October. October is your favorite month, isn’t it?
Dad: (Nodding, as I point to the trees.) October is my favorite month.

First stop: Sisters Espresso. I get Dad his root beer float with the account that Dave Waka left for him there. Then I head for the backroads that will take us up to Bellingham through the autumn colors. I want to share this brilliant October day with Dad. We are surrounded in amber and gold, garnets and rubies, as we travel through tunnels of autumn trees.
Karen: Isn’t it beautiful, Daddy?!
Dad: (Nodding.) The yellow in the trees. Where are we going?
Karen: I thought we’d go to Lake Padden.
(I wind down backroads haloed in autumn gold until I reach Lake Padden. I pull over to take a couple of photos.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Padden.
Dad: (Nodding.) Padden.
(I sense Dad is getting tired now. It’s time to bring him home. At first I think I’ll use the backroads, again, to bring him home, but then as I near the exit to I-5…)
Dad: It’s time to be getting back.
(I exit onto the freeway.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Samish.
Dad: Dad is waiting by the side of the road. I hope he’s not alone.
Karen: Oh. No… (and I start to reassure Dad that I’m sure his father isn’t alone…)
Dad: I think they’re all teachers there. (He sounds reassured by this thought.)
Karen: Yes.

I bring Dad back to his home and pull in next to the front door.
Dad: What is this place?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: No, this isn’t my home.
Karen: Yup, it’s your home.
Dad: (Eyeing the house.) Is there anyone home?
(Just then Amanda appears at the top of the stairs and smiles at Dad. I see his face light up in recognition.)
Amanda: Hello!
Dad: (Smiling.) Hello!
(Amanda helps him into the house and up the stairs. She brings Dad to the door of his bedroom and he asks her if this is his room. She tells him yes and he goes in. Amanda helps lower him to the bed. Amanda leaves for a moment to help another resident.)
Dad: I’m supposed to meet my father.
Karen: (Trying to figure out which direction to go with this.) Dad, you’re 101.
Dad: I know that.
Karen: How old would your father be now?
Dad: (Frowning in thought.)
Karen: He’d be, like, 130 now, right?
Dad: (Thinking.) Yeah.
Karen: Daddy, your father died a month before I was born. He’s been dead more than 60 years. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a wonderful man.
Dad: But I saw him recently… (Tearing up.) My father is dead.
Karen: (Putting my arm around his shoulders.) But I still have my father. And I feel really blessed about that.
Dad: (Reassuring me.) I’ll be around for a while, yet.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

Photos from our drive –

Scenes from Olympia, Washington

Made a quick trip to Olympia, Washington so Scott could present his photojournalism expertise at a newspaper conference. Olympia is such a beautiful city. Farmers Market four days a week through October. Reflections of boats in the marina. The capitol building rising above Capitol Lake. And then we were up at the crack of dawn to get back home today – and look what we saw!

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

 

Caring for Our Environment

There are not “two sides” to global warming. It is not a partisan issue, and it shouldn’t be a political one. The future of our species is at stake. Let’s move beyond politics, people. Sheesh.

***

“Is it correct to say of material objects, that they are nothing and exist only in imagination?

“…My sense of the beauty of the universe is, that beauty typifies holiness, and is something to be desired…

“Even the human conception of beauty, grandeur, and utility is something that defies a sneer. It is more than imagination. It is next to divine beauty and the grandeur of Spirit. It lives with our earth-life, and is the subjective state of high thoughts. The atmosphere of mortal mind constitutes our mortal environment. What mortals hear, see, feel, taste, smell, constitutes their present earth and heaven…

“To take all earth’s beauty into one gulp of vacuity and label beauty nothing, is ignorantly to caricature God’s creation, which is unjust to human sense and to the divine realism. In our immature sense of spiritual things, let us say of the beauties of the sensuous universe: ‘I love your promise; and shall know, some  time, the spiritual reality and substance of form, light, and color, of what I now through you discern dimly…'”
Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy, p 86-87

Psalms 96: 11-12
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. 
 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.

Isaiah 60:13
The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

Isaiah 61: 4
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

Isaiah 55:12
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

***

(Time‘s issue on global warming brought me some hope. I highly recommend it.)

(All photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)