Gifts on an Early Morning Walk

I slipped out of the house early on Sunday to give myself a quick walk on the Bellingham boardwalk – I wanted to go on my walk before the streets got busy; finding a parking space became a challenge; and the temperature became uncomfortable. I have found, on my Bellingham walks, that the early morning holds a peace and special beauty.

It was quiet and the boardwalk was mostly empty when I started my walk just before 8:00. But as I got closer to Boulevard Park I started seeing more people, and more pups, too. And this is when I met Wally, and his human, Beth. Wally was special – I recognized that immediately. An older gent of a dog, he made his slow way across the boardwalk to greet me and to let me pet him. My heart melted. I asked Beth to tell me about Wally – what was Wally’s story? She told me that her husband had found Wally when he’d been out on a snowmobile ride near Yakima ten years ago. Wally had been young then – maybe two – and he was starving and abandoned and eating from a deer carcass when her husband came upon him. Wally was in a bad way. Her husband brought him home where he and Beth nursed Wally back to health. When Wally was well again, her husband said it was probably time to find him a home. To which Beth replied, “I think he already has one.”

As Beth told his story, Wally – who Beth said was part beagle and part pitbull – let me scratch him behind the ears and pet him. I was filled with gratitude that Beth’s husband had found Wally and that Life had brought Wally to a home with good people who loved him.

As I was talking to Beth, another dog and his humans approached from the other end of the boardwalk, and this is when I met dapper little Hans. Hans and Wally quickly got acquainted in the fashion of dogs and I snapped both their photos.

After Hans and his humans left, a man coming from the direction of the park with a coffee cup in his hand, cheerily greeted Beth like they were old friends. He said everyone knows Beth and Wally and joined us for a friendly chat. The man introduced himself as “Cash” and we talked for a bit about his name. He said “Cash” was his middle name and that his first name was actually “Petty.” Beth immediately started cracking up. I’m embarrassed to admit it took me an extra second to put “Petty” and “Cash” together and realize that Cash was having fun with his name. I introduced myself as “Karen” then and we had some fun with MY name for a while, too.

After chatting a bit more with these fine people, and giving Wally one last pet, I continued on my walk to the other end of the park. As I was coming back from the far end, I saw a photographer had taken up position on the beach and was taking pictures of a woman doing yoga poses. I looked at the photographer, who was holding a position that demanded some strength and balance, and thought, “There’s an athlete!” – and then I stopped short. Her face had the exact same profile as a friend I’d worked with forty years ago on Mount Rainier. I knew my friend’s daughter, Freya, was a photographer now in Bellingham, and that she was also, by a wonderful coincidence, the partner of the son of one of my Dad’s old climbing buddies, Jim Whittaker. I don’t think I’d seen Freya since she was a baby – more than thirty years ago – but I suddenly just knew that I was looking at a grown-up Freya now. “Is this Freya?!” I asked. And she looked up at me and smiled her mother’s smile and confirmed her identity. WHOAH. I quickly introduced myself as “Dee Molenaar‘s daughter” and her mother’s old friend from Rainier. I told her she looked just like her mom – that that’s how I’d recognized her. Freya laughed and smiled and graciously let me snap a quick picture of her before she got back to work.

Running into Freya in the park was cosmic, my friends – a wonderful gift and reminder of the connections we all share with each other.

As I was leaving the park and heading back on the boardwalk I heard someone yell, “Karen!” I looked ahead of me, I looked behind me, I looked up in the trees (because I would not be surprised to find my friends hanging out in trees), and finally saw my friend and former teaching colleague, Elizabeth, waving her arms from the park. I hurried back to the park to give my friend a hug. It was good to see Elizabeth again – another gift on my early morning walk.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

You Meet the Nicest People Waiting in Line

(This post can be found as an audio podcast at this link.)

I stopped by Tecalitlan Restaurant to pick up some tacos to bring home to Scott, and met some really cool people while I waited there:

A lady of about my age approached the restaurant – she was covered in mud and dirt and looked like she’d just come out of battle – but she was beautiful, too – she had an open face and a beautiful smile and long silver hair. I smiled and asked her how she was doing and she laughed and said she’d just spent the day burning slash on her property and now all she wanted was dinner and a hot shower. I learned she was a gardener and we talked a bit about gardening and how healthy it is for people to work the earth and walk barefoot on the ground. She was very wise.

A young man in glasses approached the order window and we exchanged smiles. I’d already ordered so I moved aside so he could get in front of me. After a while I became aware that I was moving from side to side on my feet – putting my weight on one foot and then the other – and I realized I was making a tune in my head – that there was a rhythmn passing through my thoughts that was making me move back-and-forth. And then I became aware that the young man in front of me was moving from foot-to-foot, too, in the exact same rhythmn. I asked him if he had a song going on his head and he laughed and said no, but he just has a hard time staying still. He asked me if I had a song in my head and I told him I did, but I was not going to sing it out loud. He laughed with me and we both continued with our foot-leaning.

And then this man came out of the restaurant with a little gray puppy in his arms. He set the pup down on the patch of grass in front of the restaurant so the puppy could stretch his legs and pee if he needed to. The puppy’s tail was wagging and his little body was rolling over itself and he was just so cute and friendly and the urge to pet him was irresistible. So I asked the pup’s human if I could pet him, and he smiled and gave the okay. And awww….

The silver-haired lady had collapsed in a chair, by this time, as she waited for her take-out. I told her she was almost there. Soon she’d have a meal and a hot shower. She laughed and nodded her head, and just about that time her take-out order appeared at the window. We rejoiced together in the magic of a warm meal.

My own take-out came soon after. The young man in the glasses wished me a good night and I took my bag of tacos to my car – which I found was blocked in on every side. There was no way I was getting out of that parking lot as things stood. I went back to the restaurant and explained my situation to the people waiting there and very soon a young man detached himself from the crowd, grinning, and pointed to his car and told me he’d parked in the spot in front of me – he couldn’t find anywhere else to park – and he’d go move his car for me. I was so grateful to him. “Thank you so much!” I said. I found an empty parking space for him while he got in his car and asked him if I should stand in it to reserve it for him. He said that would be great.

He moved his car for me and parked it in the empty space. I thanked him again and he smiled and said “No problem.”

You meet the nicest people just waiting in line at Tecalitlan’s.

The End.

A Pup Named Blue

“The Cats Would Love This Thing!”

(The audio podcast for this post can be found at this link.)

Today’s adventure:

Tim came from the carpet/counter/tile place today to take measurements for our new counters. He brought this way cool gizmo that uses a red laser to measure the dimensions of our counters. I was transfixed by this thing. I stood there, grinning in delight, as the machine beeped and zapped and laser-tagged our kitchen. “The cats would love this thing!” I told Tim. And “Ooooh! This is kind of like that machine that they use in the Mission Impossible movies to make those face masks!” (I started singing the Mission Impossible theme song.) Scott soon came in and stood next to me, equally fascinated. We stood in happy silence for a while – just watching the red dots move around our kitchen. “Boomer entertainment!” I said to Tim and he laughed.

After Scott left for work, I stayed there with Tim, watching him enter measurements and information into his tablet, and chatting with him. He had a Seahawks cap on and I told him I was feeling concerned about next season. He agreed with me that it was going to be different without Russell Wilson. We talked about other sports teams then – the new Kracken team – and Tim brought up the loss of our Sonics. “Were you even born when we lost our Sonics?!” I asked Tim – he looked too young to know anything about the Sonics. He laughed and said he was around and he remembered.

He asked me if I’d been raised in this area and I gave him a little of my history. Then I asked him if he’d gone to school locally – he said he’d been born in Kazakhstan, actually, and had come to the United States as a boy. His grandmother had been German and his grandfather Russian – they’d met in a concentration camp during WWII and had escaped to Kazakhstan at some point. From there, his parents had come to Washington State. He shared that he was married to a woman of Ukrainian heritage. I asked him if she still had family in Ukraine and he said that she did. We talked about the trauma of the latest war and the insanity of it.

Tim finished feeding information into his tablet and packed up the cool laser gizmo. I asked him if I could get his picture and write a public post about meeting him today, and he gave me permission.

We wished each other a good day, and he left to go to his next lucky customer.

There are some really nice people in this world. There are also some really cool machines that beep and play laser-tag with kitchens.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

First Review for Cosmic Connections

Hey! Check it out! I’ve now got two five-star ratings AND a written review for Cosmic Connections: Sharing the Joy! Thank you to the “Amazon Customer” who took the time to write this review. If you’re an author, you know how much that means…

Amazon Customer writes:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Delightful book!
Reviewed in the United States on October 12, 2021
Verified Purchase
“Cosmic Connections” follows the excursions of an extraverted author and photographer who befriends nearly every person who crosses her path. This uplifting read highlights life’s small moments of connection — with strangers, old friends she meets by chance, the hapless, friendly dogs and former students. The author uses brief anecdotes—one or two pages—to show how much goodness permeates life. One entry describes meeting a stranger, only to find out she is the daughter of the minister who married her and her husband (in another part of the state) 30 years before. Her warm writing style and enthusiasm for life is infectious.
AMAZON.COMDelightful book!

Robin’s Egg

Another excerpt from Cosmic Connections (soon to be released):

Robin’s Egg

He comes towards me on the trail–
a big, brawny man with a bald head
and tattoos on his arms. I turn away
to take photos of the ferns on the forest
floor and when I turn back he’s passed me.
I glance back at the same moment he glances
back at me. He uses his walking stick
to point to a place on the path near me.
I turn in the direction he’s pointing –
not sure what he wants me to see –
and find myself looking at the remnants
of a tiny, fragile blue egg. A new nestling
has pecked open her shell. “Robin’s egg,”
the big man rumbles in his deep bass voice,
a sweet smile on his face. I smile back at him.
“It’s beautiful,” I say. “Yes, it is,” he agrees.
And he turns and continues down the trail
.-Karen Molenaar Terrell

These Cosmic Connections

Something really amazing happened this morning. And just when I really needed it, too.

I think I need to back up for a moment to 2011. Eight years ago I was in a transition between one job and the next. It was a scary, exhilarating, audacious, crazy wonderful time for me – rich with possibilities. I was unfettered and open to whatever new opportunities came my way – ready to create a whole ‘nother career for myself. For the first time I went to a counselor – and she helped me discover for myself what it was I needed to do to bring sanity to my life – what I needed to discard, and what I needed to nurture. My financial advisor (of all people!) suggested I meet a local woman named Laura Lavigne – the originator of the Happiness Sprinkling Project – and Laura showed me how to make a vision board for myself. Creativity moved up to the front of my life – photography and writing and music.  The insane stuff – nonsensical edicts (stuff like that scene from Office Space), schedules and bureaucracy, fear and anxiety – got tossed.

And, once I opened my thought to all the infinite possibilities, cool things started happening: I was offered a small salary to work as my church’s Reading Room librarian; I got a contract to proofread and write for an educational publishing company; I made note cards of my photos and started selling them at a little coffee shop; my book, Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist, was bringing in a small amount in royalties every month. I wasn’t making a LOT of income at first – it was more of a symbolic income, really – but it was enough to give me hope that there was something waiting for me beyond the career I’d left behind. And soon I was offered another job, teaching at an alternative high school, that brought my life purpose and great joy for the next seven years – until I retired last June.

Which brings us to today and the amazing thing that happened this morning.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and went downstairs to feed the cats and check out the news online. The news was disheartening. Greed. Corruption. Dishonesty. Crises. And I felt myself getting discouraged and going to that dark place – asking myself what in the heck we’re doing here, and what’s the purpose of it all, and etc.

Still feeling discouraged, I went to my Facebook notifications and found there was a message waiting for me on my Author and Photographer page from a woman named Floriane. Floriane wrote: “Hi! Just wanted to reach out to you because I purchased a picture of yours in 2011 while stopping on a Greyhoud bus from Vancouver to Seattle. I love it to this day and wanted to say thank you.”

Whoah. I tried to figure out where Floriane might have found one of my photos to purchase, and asked her for more details. She sent me a picture of the photo she purchased and told me she remembered buying it at a coffee shop while she was traveling around on her own for two weeks – moving between Vancouver and Seattle and Portland – before starting an exchange program in Texas. She said the photo is now in Normandie and will soon be in Paris. Like. France. Yes. My little photo note card of Bellingham Bay will soon be in Paris, France.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this was one of the cards I sold at the coffee shop during the months I was transitioning from one career to the next. I’d almost completely forgotten about those note cards and that little coffee shop. But look what that card did for me! It connected me to a woman who lives across the Atlantic, on another continent, 5,000 miles away! I never could have seen THAT one coming.

Cosmic.

What in the heck are we doing here? We’re sharing joy and beauty with each other, that’s what we’re doing. And what’s the purpose of it all? To connect and discover each other, and bring each other hope and love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

A Waltz in the Park

(I originally published this on the Bellingham Bay Blog – but I thought it might fit well here, too. :))

Something really magical happened in Bellingham this morning – actually, many magical things happened in Bellingham this morning, but let’s start with THIS one:

As I was walking along the shore in Boulevard Park I looked across the green and saw a man on the other side, in the parking lot, moving in a way that made me think he was maybe doing tai chi. I love how people move when they’re doing tai chi and I’d like to learn how to do that myself – so I started trying to follow his movements – I raised my arm when he raised his arm, I turned when he turned – and at some point he recognized what I was doing and we smiled at each other across the park. When I walked around the park to the other side I thanked him and then… I’m not sure how this happened, exactly – but the next thing I knew he’d raised his hand to mine and we were dancing! In the parking lot. At Boulevard Park. That’s what he’d been doing all along – he’d been dancing! I could hear the music then – it sounded like an Asian waltz – I know I’m not explaining this well, but… the notes were D, F, G, B flat, G… for those of you who have a scale in your head. (“A Scale in Your Head” would make a great title for a book, wouldn’t it?)

It was cosmic!. We danced around the parking lot for a few minutes. And then I thanked him – he smiled – I don’t think he spoke English – and let me take a picture of us together.

I was still thinking about my waltz in the park when I got to the parking lot above the boardwalk. And then this deer walked across the road – and a little spotted fawn suddenly appeared, too, skipping along behind her. All of us who were walking along the road just stopped and watched them pass. “Well, THAT was magic,” I said. And this man smiled at me and said, “Isn’t that a great way to start the day?!”

And there was an eagle – soaring right above me! And… and… well, here are some pictures from my morning…
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Snippets from the Week

Highlights from the week…

humoristianity

A caregiver came in to wake my 97 year-old Dad up and tend to him this morning. “Don’t wake me up. I’m having a dream that I’m driving,” he said.

***

Uprising at The Home: Apparently Moz is rabble-rousing at the retirement home. “Yam chips are not supposed to be served cold,” Moz told me indignantly, and then told me that she let the cook know her feelings about this matter. She said the other ladies at her table in the dining hall agreed with her. “We need to make our voices heard!” Moz told them.

Right on, Moz! Power to the people!

***

I have discovered a new espresso place near Moz and Dad’s – a cheery little walk-in. After I’d ordered my lavender-flavored green iced tea I turned around to find a place to sit while I waited for it, and settled myself into a comfy chair. It was…

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