When I Thought Climbing Was Normal

At the time it all seemed kind of matter-of-fact normal. I climbed Mount Hood at 15. Climbed Rainier the summer before I turned 21. Climbed Baker the summer before I turned 31. Climbed Adams the summer before I turned 41. And I felt challenged by these climbs, for sure – felt like I’d had to push myself to get to the tops of these peaks – but this is what the people around me did. I guess this was my “normal.” It’s not been until recently that the significance of those climbs has really hit me. And I’m kind of astounded by myself, to tell you the truth. I mean… who did I think I was that I would even CONTEMPLATE climbing those mountains?!!

I’m reading a book by Joe Wilcox right now about his climb of Denali back in 1967. He references Mount Rainier several times in his book – talks about how Rainier is often used to prepare climbers for major expeditions and how it’s used to test the strength and ability of climbers to see if they are fit to climb in major expeditions. A lot of expedition climbers are from the Pacific Northwest because of their experience on Rainier. And most folks who come to Rainier to climb it have probably been preparing for that climb for months or even years. It is a big deal. Apparently.

Here’s how I got to climb Rainier: I was working in the gift shop at Paradise – hiking around up there before and after work – my body was used to the altitude. I was sitting outside after work one evening – looking at the mountain. My friend, Perky Firch, who also worked at the Paradise Visitors Center, was sitting next to me. I said to her, “We’re going to climb that mountain.” She said okay. I called my dad to ask him if he could guide us to the summit, and he agreed to be our guide. Two weeks later we were standing on the top of Rainier.

And the sheer naive confidence of my young self – the fearless innocence of it all – astounds me!

What a blessed life I’ve enjoyed! What opportunities came from being Dee Molenaar‘s daughter! I don’t think I fully appreciated that until now.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Excuse the quality of the photo. I was too lazy to take it out of its frame on the wall.)

Karen on the summit of Rainier – with her father, Dee Molenaar on the left, and her brother, Pete Molenaar, on the right.

“I Really Enjoy These Surprise Drives!”

Dad is falling asleep in front of his breakfast when I arrive. I ask him if he’d like to go for a drive and he nods his head yes. Megan gets his shoes on his feet and helps him into his coat. I pluck his mountain hat off the lamp in his room and put it on his head. As we’re working our way down the stairs, Dad turns to me and says, “I really enjoy these surprise drives!” We head out the door and to the car. Megan calls after us, “You two crazy kids have fun!”

Dad: Well, what should we talk about today?
Karen: What do you want to talk about? (Thinking.) Have you seen any good movies?
Dad: Yes, I’ve gone to a lot of movies lately.
Karen: What’s your favorite movie?
Dad: Naughty Marietta. Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. What’s your favorite movie?
Karen: Wow! That’s a hard one…
Dad: Have you ever seen Naughty Marietta?
Karen: I think I’ve seen some of it…

I pull into the Sisters Espresso, and Dad lets me know he’d like a root beer float. I use the Sisters Espresso gift card our friend, Cindy, left for me to use when I take Dad on drives. When I bring back Dad’s root beer float I show him the card and tell him that Cindy bought him his drink today.
Dad: Tell Cindy I really liked the root beer float.
Karen: I will!

I turn onto Allen West Road…
Dad: We haven’t been on this road for a while. (He’s right.) That hill would be considered a mountain in Holland. (He’s right again.)

As I’m driving down Allen West I decided I’ll take Dad to the little Bayview Airport – the airport is surrounded by forest, and I think the color might be pretty there right now. When I turn down the road that will take us to the airport…
Dad: We’re going to the airport now. Didn’t we go on a flight there once?
(Now I have no idea if Dad has been on a flight from Bayview Airport – I would not be surprised – but I am impressed that he would remember he is near an airport that he visited with me once a year ago.)

We pull up next to the flight museum and Dad and I look at some of the old planes that are sitting out next to the museum. I point out the trail that goes by the museum and mention that this is where my sons used to run x-country when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding.) I remember. I remember waiting for the boys right there at the curve in the road. Do they still run here?
Karen: No, that was when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding) Oh. Yeah.

As we head back down the airport road I spot an eagle flying around above me. It lands on a fir tree and I pull over to take some photos. Dad is watching the eagle, too, and I find myself really grateful that he got to the ophthalmologist in time and still has one good eye and can see things like eagles sitting in trees. A little further down the road and a young buck crosses in front of us. I get out my camera to take a quick picture.
Dad: Does your camera have a zoom?
Karen: Yup!
(Dad nods.)

When we pull up in front of his home, he unsnaps his seat belt and gets ready to get out. I note that he doesn’t ask me this time if this is a drop-off place, or if he’s going to go home from here, or who these people are, or what he’s doing here. I’m grateful for this. He seems to know where he is.

Megan and I help him up the stairs and he heads for the living room, saying something to Megan about a football game. Megan starts laughing, and says the TV is already turned to it. He settles happily into his chair.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen. Drive carefully.

If you enjoyed this father-daughter adventure, you might want to check out Karen’s book, Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dada collection of stories just like this one.

adventures with dad book cover

Latest book!

Moz Still with Me

Scott grabbed an old climbing ice axe out of our garage to take on a hike with us a couple weeks ago. We both assumed it was one of my dad’s old ice axes until we got up to the parking lot at Artist Point. Then Scott really looked at it and saw that it had belonged to my mom, Moz. It made us happy when we realized that we were bringing Moz along on this hike with us.

My dad is a well-known, big name in mountaineering – he’s climbed and painted on some of the highest mountains in the world – and people sometimes ask me to share some of his mountaineering adventures with them. But what maybe most people don’t know is that his wife, Moz, had her share of adventures, too – she’d climbed Mount Rainier twice, accompanied Dad on hikes all over the Pacific Northwest – on their honeymoon she’d climbed this humongous straight-up spire with him that looked like it was some made-up thing from a Hollywood set. Here’s a picture of her climbing over a fence to get to the spire…

Moz climbing on her honeymoon

In early 2017, when Moz was lying on the hospital bed in my living room, in and out of consciousness, struggling to breathe because of congestive heart failure, one of the hospice nurses asked if Moz had COPD – had she been a smoker? No, I told the nurse, Moz had been a singer – a professional vocalist – and the kind of singer she was is the kind that doesn’t smoke. The nurse looked at me kind of skeptically. So then I told her that Moz had climbed Rainier twice when she was young, and I saw the nurse look back at my mom with a new respect. The nurse said that she usually only gets to meet her patients when they’re  ready to pass – and that it’s nice to know something about the lives they had BEFORE she meets them in the person. I think knowing something about Moz’s adventurous past made her more real to the nurse – it gave Moz’s humanity back to her, if that makes sense.

There are certain pieces of music that always bring Moz to me. One of them is Allison Krauss’s version of I Will. As soon as I hear the first banjo chord come through my car radio I feel Moz’s presence in the car with me.

Yesterday I was driving from LaConner – I’d just paid my cable bill and picked up the folks’ mail from their old assisted living place (most of their old mail is from non-profit organizations wondering why Moz hasn’t donated to their causes recently and sort of chiding her for that – I’ve tried sending the mail back with “deceased” written on the envelopes, but the organizations don’t seem to be getting the message). I was passing the spot where Moz had once told me, as I was driving her home from one of her stays at the hospital, that she would really like some cream cheese dip and smacked her lips together – I always smile when I pass that spot – and Krauss’s I Will started playing on my CD. Instantly Moz was with me. I could feel her hugging me and wrapping me all up in her love. I started tearing up. Those of you who have lost people dear to you will understand the feeling I had, I think – it wasn’t sadness that I was feeling –  it was something deeper and more beautiful and more poignant – it was just… it was love, I guess. And I wished I still had her with me in the person so that I could hug her with my human arms, and talk to her with my human voice – but I knew I still had her with me in another form – in a form that couldn’t be taken from me.

Moz is still with me.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart…
– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“…individual good derived from God, the infinite All-in-all, may flow from the departed to mortals…”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

 

This Homesick Yearning

It just makes sense to me, you know?
She wouldn’t be leading me
out of this place if She didn’t already
have another place for me to go.
I  wouldn’t have this homesick yearning
for a place I’ve never seen or been,
if it wasn’t time for a change, a shift
of thought and direction – a turning
a fresh start and a new adventure.

I’m about to go exploring again, ain’t I?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

“Behold, I make all things new.”
– Revelation 21:5

 

moonrise over baker this one 7 really

 

A Tourist Going Through Life

The oldest son asked, “Mom, do you feel like a tourist going through life?” I thought about it for a second – and the idea of it made me smile. I told him yeah, I do. And then I asked him why he’d asked. He said because I always seem to be so happy wherever I am – taking pictures and exploring and checking things out. I think this is one of the nicest things anybody has ever said to me.

 

 

Taking My Bike for a Walk

Karen’s Most Excellent Adventure:
Rode my bike into Edison with the idea of getting tea at Tweet’s and saying hi to my friend, Charles, and then maybe riding on to the slough for photos. Tweet’s was closed, but Charles happened to be walking past just as I arrived and we exchanged greetings and hugs and life-updates. It was so good to see him again.

Stopped by Marioposa’s for a tea and then, as I left, the tire on my bike popped.

This was an interesting turn of events.

I was four miles out now. No spare tire. An adventure in the works.

Looked like I was going to be taking my bike for a walk.  🙂

A nice couple who’d heard my tire pop – they said it sounded like a gun shot – came out to see if they could help me – wasn’t that nice of them? I thanked them, but told them I wasn’t far from home, and I was fine. It was a perfect day for a walk.

I saw things I wouldn’t have seen if I’d been cruising along on my bike – a red-winged blackbird flitting among the cattails, a robin sitting on a sign, flowers along the roadside. About a mile down the road, I stopped at the Samish Cheese Factory for cheese-tasting (bought some chile chive cheese and cheddar) and met some way cool tourists from France (originally from Surrey, UK) who recommended the extra sharp cheddar. Back on the road, and a woman stopped to ask me if I knew how to get to the Old Edison Inn – I was glad to help – and realized I wouldn’t have been able to help her if I’d been on my bike. A little further down the road and my friend, Armando, suddenly appeared around a curve, out for a jog. He jogged over to see if I needed help – I told him I was enjoying my adventure – and then we had a lovely conversation about life and love and kindness – there, on the side of a country road, in the middle of nowhere, really – it was wonderful and kind of surreal – and we both started laughing at the delightful, unexpected magic of it. (It has been my experience that if you’re in the right frame of mind, good things will find you wherever you are. 🙂 ) A little further along and I stopped to buy myself some blueberry ice cream at Bow Hill Blueberries.

At this point I was just so filled up with the Good of Life (also blueberry ice cream and chili cheese) – rejoicing in friendship and love and kindness – so grateful that Love had provided me with this adventure today. And then I looked down – and there was a yellow paperclip lying on the side of the road. Paper clips are a kind of an inside joke between Love and me. (I’ll attach a link to THAT story down below.) Now I was totally cracking up. Put the paper clip in my pocket (I NEVER walk by paper clips when they appear for me).

A mile more and I was back home.

What a lovely expedition.

Click here for the paperclip story.

To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

Little by Little

“Old age” comes little by little, I think –
little surrenders of who we are
to the experts and authorities,
to convenience and comfort –
someone tells us we need to stay out
of the sun, to eat only certain foods,
to travel only at the right times
and to the right places,
and to wash our hands after every
handshake and human touch –
and we listen and obey.

And so we spend our days in “preventative”
exams – counting the pills into our trays –
hoping to increase the number of our days.
And little by little we relinquish
the small pleasures that make life
meaningful –  the joy of adventure,
noon-time lunch  with our faces turned
towards the sun,  whipped cream on
our cocoa, shaking hands  with new friends,
and listening to our own hearts to create lives
worth living.

And we lose our lives in a fear of death.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Dazzling Days of Daring-Do

Remembering days when we played hide and seek
in the parking lot at Mount Rainier on summer nights –
my fellow park employees and I slithering
under trucks and dodging behind cars
and laughing so hard our bellies hurt.

Or we might go looking for bears on the trails
in the evenings – hoping we wouldn’t actually
find any, but enjoying the idea of it –
my friend, Dan, pulling me in front of him
for protection, as we encountered imaginary beasts.

We were young. The world was full of adventure
and laughter, and daring-do.

Forty years have brought changes –
marriage, motherhood, responsibilities.
My body seems more matronly than springy
these days. I will be entering my sixth decade
in a few weeks. I felt some trepidation about this.

Would I never have another adventure?
Were the dazzling days of daring-do done?

I went for a walk around the lake yesterday.
I wanted more. Walked from old town to the park.
I wanted more. Walked from the park to downtown,
and back again. Then Scott came home with an idea:
Let’s walk the trail to the beach when the sun sets.

I was all stretched out from nine miles of walking,
and ready for more. A walk in the evening cool.

Darkening trail, lovely roots and rocks to climb
smell of fir and cedar and briny bay
and the sunset – brilliant reds and golds
and blue filling my eyes in the west as the full
moon rises in the east, shimmering silver on the sea.

Crashing waves, sparkling light from sun and moon,
peace and perspective from the stars dotting the above.

And then flashlights come out of our pockets
and we find our way back through the woods,
rocks and roots, joking about what we’d do
if big eyes glowed towards us at eye level  down the trail –
and we’re laughing and brave and young again.

The adventures haven’t ended.
There are still dazzling days of daring-do.

– Karen Molenaaar Terrell

 

 

West Coast Bicycle Adventure

I passed this young woman riding her bike along the side of Chuckanut. Her bike was loaded with supplies – the coolest thing she had on there was a cheery little sunbonnet. I went to The Sisters for my lavender iced tea, and as I was getting back in my car she rode by on her bike. I asked her if she’d like something cold to drink from the Sisters and she said yes, that would be great. She ordered a strawberry lemonade and we sat down at the picnic table for a quick chat. She was very cool. Her name is Kathleen (she goes by Kasey), and she’s traveling on her bike from Alaska to San Diego. (!) She hails from jolly olde England and has a wonderful accent.

Here’s the URL to her blog: https://uphilldownhillrepeat.wordpress.com/

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Kathleen Pollitt

Karen’s Pre-School for Grown-Ups

We all know I have enough flaws, faults, and foibles to fill pages and pages of blog posts. But… yeah… I am not going to talk about those things at this time. Nosiree Bub. I want to talk about something good I’ve discovered about myself.

My discovery began when I became aware of how much fun I was having driving Moz and Dad around on the local backroads in search of views and birds last weekend. Their glee at busting out of the retirement community for a day filled me with glee, too. I realized I had that exact same feeling when my sons were youngsters and I would take them on “field trips” and hikes and introduce them to new places. And THEN I realized I get that same feeling when one of my students grasps a new concept and her eyes light up with the wonder of it. And all this led to my epiphany: I love helping people escape.from whatever confines them. It brings me great joy.

I posted this epiphany on Facebook, and one of my friends, Allen Nelson (always thinking, that one), responded with this comment: “There’s a business model in there somewhere: Uber meets TripAdvisor. Instead of shuttling people where they expect to go, taking them on short, ‘Madcap’ adventures. I suspect that there’s a large, untapped desire for adventure out there.”

And isn’t that just a FANTASTIC idea?!! .

I’m thinking maybe I could open up a kind of “pre-school” for grown-ups. The day might look something like this:

Nine-ish: We load up in the Madcap Adventure Van and head out for a field trip. This could be a search for views and birds from the van, or I might take us all some place where we can get out of the van and go for a nice little hike ((depending on my clients’ physical abilities and general state of health, of course).

Noonish: Back to my house for lunch. If it’s the right time of the year we can forage for food – gather eggs from our chickens, pick fruit from the orchard, and vegetables from the garden – I’ve found that most people find something kind of satisfying in the idea of “living off the land.” Of course, we’re only going to actually do this for one meal, because… like… a few hours after “living off the land” we are going to be craving some actual food. But by then my clients will be back in their own lives and can take care of themselves. 

After lunch: Arts and crafts time. This is when I might bring out the fingerpaints, the coloring books, the beads and pipe cleaners and pop sickle sticks and set my clients free to create something to bring home at the end of the day to give to their parents. Or children. Or friends. Their loved ones will be forever grateful to me for this. 

 

art

Two-ish: Math. 🙂 We might factor some polynomials at this time. That’s always fun. I especially like factoring polynomials that look like this: x^2 -15 + 36.  “Ooh!” I’d exclaim, “What are the factors of 36? Remember that you can multiply two negative numbers and get a positive one, so the factors of 36 include negative numbers, too. Do any of those factor pairs add up to a negative 15? Bingo! Good job, Grasshopper!”

Three-ish: Bring out the kazoos. 

Three-thirty-ish: Time to wind down and get the grown-ups ready to return to their families. We can all sing one last song together – maybe Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – and then bid a fond farewell to one another. I’d be sure to pin any important notes to families on my clients’ jackets – stuff like: “David played well with the other grown-ups today” and “Kathy really knows how to rock a kazoo!” 

Yeah. I think this might actually work.