My Contribution to Cyber Monday

It’s that magical marvelous magnificent season of giving – the season of shameless plugs.

So here’s what I’ve got…

My most recent books are Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad and The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad. Those of you who have enjoyed reading the stories of my drives with Dad will probably recognize some of the stories in these books. Between the two of ’em there are 15 ratings now – all five stars!

I have two books of poems out there – A Poem Lives on My Windowsill and The Brush of Angel Wings. Here’s a poem from The Brush of Angel Wings:

Two Earthworms

I came upon two earthworms on the sidewalk today –
their noses suspended in the air, frozen by the heat
of the sun – dried out and stiff
and I reached down and plucked up the first
and carried him to the dirt.
I dug a little hole for him and covered him
with earth – a grave to bring him back to life.
Gently I used my fingers as tweezers and pulled
the second worm from the sidewalk
and lifted him to the moist soil, laid him down,
and covered him with a wet leaf.
Fare thee well, my new friends –
May you revive and spend the rest of your days
happily leaving a trail of rich earth in your wake

I am also the author of The Madcap Christian Scientist series. The first book in the series, Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist, has 33 reviews and 4.7 stars! Here’s the beginning:
:
Years ago an old boyfriend said to me, “I can’t see that Christian Science has made you any better than anyone else.”

“I know!” I said, nodding my head in complete and happy agreement, “But can you imagine what I’d be like without it?!”

He raised his eyebrows and laughed. What could he say? He was looking at a self-centered, moralistic, stubborn idealist who saw everything in terms of black and white. But I could have been worse. I believe without Christian Science I would have been worse.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I am not the best example of a Christian Scientist. I’m not as disciplined as I could be. I have fears and worries and doubts. I’m a little neurotic. I am the Lucy Ricardo of Christian Scientists…

***
The second book in the series is The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Middle Book. Here’s an excerpt:

At the age of 51 I went insane. I did not like it so much. But I learned a lot from it…

If somebody had tried to talk to me about mental illness before I’d had this experience, I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were going on about. Mental illness was something that happened to “other” people. Mental illness was not something a madcap Christian Scientist would ever know anything about, right?

Yeesh.
***
The third book in the series is The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New. Here’s an excerpt from that one:

Two years ago I would never have been able to guess where I’d be today, what I’d be doing, and what new people I would be calling my friends and colleagues. Two years ago my youngest son was close to graduating from high school, my 20-year career as a public school teacher was winding down, and I was looking for a new job and a new purpose to fill my days. Two years ago I was starting over.

It was scary. It was exhilarating. It was absolutely awesome!
***
To find any of these books you can go to my Amazon Author Page.

The_Brush_of_Angel_W_Cover_for_Kindle
Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad
book covers 3

Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom

Season of Shameless Plugs (Day 8):
Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom

I published this one in 2016 – shortly after Moz and Dad (Dee Molenaar) moved to La Conner to be closer to me. They were very brave during this time – leaving their home of 48 years, moving to a retirement community in Tacoma, and then to an assisted living place in La Conner – leaving their community and friends to be near me. I am in awe of them.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:
I learned a lot of lessons from the folks on my visit this weekend, but there’s one moment I’d especially like to share. To be honest, I debated whether I should share this one or not. It seems almost silly for me to share it, in a way – because it SHOULD be just a matter-of-fact thing – a “no big deal” thing, really – but… after some other news I’ve heard tonight, I feel impelled to share this moment.

So I’d helped my dad out of the car, and was helping my mom out, when I heard Dad say, “Thank you!” to someone. I looked to see what was going on back there and saw that these two young Black men with Seahawks hoodies were holding the door for Dad so he could maneuver his walker into the building. Dad nodded to the young men, and smiled, and thanked them again as I watched him go through the doors, and the young men smiled back and said, “You’re welcome!” and then went on their way.

A small, insignificant moment, really. But… and I can’t even explain why… I find myself getting teary-eyed as I sit here recalling that simple, unremarkable, sweet exchange between a 97 year-old White man, and those two young men in the hoodies.

There are a lot of really good people in this world who want to do right by each other.

The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad

The Season of Shameless Plugs (Day 2):
The sequel to Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad is The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad, published in March, 2020 – a couple months after Dad (Dee Molenaar) passed. Putting this book together gave me something to focus on while I was grieving the passing of Pop and trying to deal with the uncertainty of the new pandemic.

An excerpt –

“Can’t You Do Something About This?”
March 1, 2019

Dad is stretched out on his bed when I stop by, Skittles curled up next to him.
Dad: Karen! (He reaches out to hug me.) Are you stopping by on your way to see Mom?Karen: (I don’t know how to answer this. I decide to change tacks.) How are you?
Dad: What? What did you say?
Karen: How are you?
Dad: I’m bored. It’s boring waiting around for someone to take me home. Can’t you do something about this? You’re my daughter. Can’t you ask for my senior rights?
Karen: (My heart breaks. I rest my head on his chest and hug him.) Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: YES! Where will we go?
Karen: How about I get you a root beer float?
Dad: Yeah. Let’s go to the little stand where we always go.

As we drive to the espresso stand…
Dad: I love seeing your face come into my room. I love when you take me on drives.
Karen: I love going on drives with you.
(We pull into the parking lot for the Sisters Espresso.)
Dad: Here’s where we get the root beer floats.
(I order a root beer float and a lavender iced tea from Courtney. While she’s making them I turn around and wave to Dad and he smiles and waves back. I bring him his float, and we continue on our drive.)

I drive to the post office and pick up the mail, and then back down Chuckanut, onto Thomas, onto Benson, and left on Josh Wilson. Dad’s head is turned to the window, watching as the scenery passes by. Neither one of us is talking. When we get back into Burlington, Dad asks me if I like living in Burlington. I’ve never lived in Burlington. Burlington is where HE lives. But…
Karen: Yeah!
(I drive the route back to his home and park in front of the door.)
Dad: Are we going to eat dinner here?
Karen: Yup.(I help him up the stairs and he makes his way to the recliner in the living room.)

Karen: I enjoyed our drive today. Thank you!
Dad: Thank YOU for taking me on the drive.
Karen: Peter is coming in a couple days and Dave is coming in a week.
Dad: (Nodding.) Good!
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you!

Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad

Season of Shameless Plugs:
Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad

Some of you may remember the stories I wrote about my visits with Dad, Dee Molenaar. I eventually ended up putting the stories into two books: Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad and The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad.

Here’s an excerpt from the first book, Are You Taking Me Home Now?:

“I Wouldn’t Mind”
May 22, 2017

Karen: Daddy, do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I wouldn’t mind.
(In the car.)
Dad: Thank you for taking me for a drive. You’re a good daughter.
Karen: It’s my pleasure.
Dad: Do you prefer to call me “Dad” or “Father”?
Karen: I call you “Daddy.”
(We turn into the Sisters Espresso. Dad recognizes this as the place where I buy him root beer floats.)
Dad: Oh good! This is exactly what we need right now!
(Back on the road – Dad’s got his root beer float and I have my lavender iced tea.)
Dad: This is the longest time I haven’t seen Mom. I think she’s in Kansas City… or somewhere in the Midwest… helping the government.
Karen: I know she’s doing a good job.
(We reach the Chuckanut Hills.)
Dad: I used to do water rights surveys out here when I worked for the USGS.
Karen: That was a fun part of your job, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes. I always took little detours when I went on these survey trips. (He looks around and studies the landscape.) This is a beautiful part of the world.
(We’ve gotten to Fairhaven now.)
Dad: I wonder how many places are called Fairhaven. It’s a good name. It has a happy sound to it.
(We get all the way to Boulevard Park. For some reason, every single parking space is taken today.)
Dad: Are we going to park here and walk around?
Karen: There’s no parking today. We’ll try to do that another day.
(Dad nods his head in understanding.)

As we drive up from the park I spot my old friend, Darryl – Darryl and I made acquaintance on the boardwalk several years ago when we saw each other taking photos and struck up conversation. In the course of our conversation we’d realized that Darryl’s Aunt Gladdie was one of Mom and Dad’s good friends in a town four hours to the south.I stop now and roll down the window and introduce Dad to Darryl – and try to explain that Darryl’s aunt is Gladdie. I’m not sure Dad can hear what I’m saying and I’m not sure he understands what is going on, but he smiles and shakes Darryl’s hand and we move on. A minute later he asks, “Was he related to Gladdie in some way?” I tell him he’s Gladdie’s nephew. Dad asks me how I discovered this – “Did he have a sign on him that said he was Gladdie’s nephew?” he joked. I explain how Darryl and I had met by chance and discovered we had his Aunt Gladdie in common. Dad nods. In his world, this kind of coincidence is probably perfectly normal. He knows a lot of people.
(We head back down Chuckanut.)
Dad: Do you take a lot of drives with Mom?
Karen: Yes. (I take my late mother on all my drives with me.) But I like taking drives with you, too.
Dad: We don’t talk much. (I can tell he’s thinking about his hearing problem.)
Karen: No, but it doesn’t matter.
Dad: It doesn’t matter because we’re with each other.
Karen: Right! (Smiling.)

We get back to his home. He has a hard time getting in and out of the car these days. He tries to shift his feet out of the car and onto the pavement. This is hard work. He sighs and laughs and looks up at me.
Dad: These days it’s just hard getting up the energy to get out of the car.
(I can tell he’s gathering his energy to lift himself out of the seat and I reach under his armpits to help him. “One-two-three!” And he’s up!)
Dad: Thank you for the drive today.
Karen: It was fun, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes, I enjoyed it very much.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you, too.

(Are You Taking Me Home Now? has 14 ratings on Amazon – all five stars!) 🙂

Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad

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 Karen Special”

Those of you who are familiar with my drives with my centenarian father might remember that our go-to place for Dad’s root beer floats was Sisters Espresso (in Bow, WA), and that my drink of choice was usually a lavender green iced tea.

Sisters Espresso is assuming new ownership in a week and my husband and I wanted to stop by and order some of our last drinks from our friends, the current owners. Brooke was behind the window and I felt a little tug of nostalgia when I saw her back there, working her magic at the espresso machine. She looked up and smiled when she saw me, and pointed to her special for the day: “The Karen” – a lavender green tea!

I have never had a drink named after me before! And to see the name “Karen” used in a happy way almost brought tears to my eyes.

Of course, I had to order one of those Karen specials for myself. 🙂 (It was on the house. ❤ )

The Second Hundred Years: “I’m a Spry Old Man”

Excerpt from The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad:

“I’m a Spry Old Man”
August 22, 2018

I’ve been traveling and Dad and I haven’t seen each other for almost two weeks. Dad hears I’m at his home and quickly comes shuffling out of his room…
Dad: Karen!
Karen: Daddy! I missed you!
Dad: I missed YOU!

We give each other a tight hug and then sit down at the kitchen table to look at cards he’s received while I was gone. After he’s done reading cards, we put his mountaineering hat on his head and Dad and I head out for a drive in my intrepid little Ford Fiesta stickshift, Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich.
Dad: I’m lucky to have a daughter who takes me on drives.
Karen: I enjoy taking you on drives!
Dad: These drives are the highlight of my life.
(I pat his knee and tell him I like them, too.)
We drive for a while, past fields and barns, Dad’s head turning as he catches glimpses of things that interest him.
Dad: This is beautiful country.
Karen: Yes, it is. It’s really smoky right now, though, from the forest fires.
Dad: Where are the fires?
Karen: Washington, Oregon, California, Canada. This whole part of the country is burning up…
Dad: Are these fires caused by lightning or are they man-made?
Karen: (Thinking.) Both, I think.
Dad nods.
A little later…
Dad: I can smell the smoke.
Karen: Yeah, it’s pretty thick, isn’t it?
Dad nods.
Later still…
Dad: It’s good to get out into the real world.

I drive us on back roads and byways and eventually end up at Bayview Park. Dad recognizes being here before. He feels up for a short walk to a bench and we sit there in companionable silence for a while – just gazing together out at the tidelands and the seabirds. Then I ask him if he’d like me to get him a breakfast sandwich and a root beer float and he thinks this is a good idea. So we get off the bench and make our way back to the car – my hand under Dad’s elbow. He is moving at a good clip…
Dad: I’m a spry old man.
Karen: Yes, you are.
We drive to the Sisters Espresso – where Dad decides to get a vanilla milkshake instead of the float.

After he gets his sandwich and shake, I ask him if he’d like to come to my house for a while and he nods his head yes. He tells me he’s not up for watercolor painting today, though – “You have to be in the right mood for that.” He sits at the dining room table for a while – finishing his sandwich and his shake. Scott and Sam the Wonder Dog appear. Sam comes into the dining room to greet Dad. Dad says, “Hi Sam,” and reaches out to pet her. “She remembers me,” he says, happy to know she’s not forgotten him.

About half an hour later I ask Dad if he’s ready to go home now, and he nods his head yes. He’s looking a little tired. Getting in and out of cars is hard work when you’re 100 years old. We get him buckled back into Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich and return him to his home.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen

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.

Bringing Dad’s Ashes Home to Rainier

We brought Dad’s ashes back to his home – the slopes of Rainier. Afterwards, down below, a breeze swirled around us – enveloped us in the fragrance of the forest – and I could feel Moz and Dad in the breeze – celebrating with us – surrounding us in love and joy.

Here’s a link to a video of the marmot.

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

I Miss Him

It is Father’s Day – and it is also my dad’s 102nd birthday – a double whammy. When Dad was 99 and lying in a hospital bed with a UTI, angry that he wasn’t being allowed to leave, he announced to my husband and me that he was “going to live to be 102!”

He almost made it, too. He died January 19th of this year – just five months short of his goal.

A lot has happened in those five months. If my dad were suddenly to reappear here today and look around at what’s happened to our world in the last five months I’m not sure what he’d make of it all. I know he’d be celebrating some of it – I know he’d support the Black Lives Matter movement and be glad to see the progress that is being made towards equality for all people. He’d probably be baffled to see everyone walking around in face masks – but I think he’d like the smiley face on mine. 🙂 He might be frustrated by the way elderly folks are being isolated from the community and he probably wouldn’t like not being able to have a lot of visitors. But – as he always managed to do – he’d make the best of the circumstances – he’d rejoice in the good, patiently wait for the bad stuff to pass, and remain hopeful about the future. He was born at the end of WWI and the beginning of the Spanish Flu pandemic; survived the Great Depression and service in WWII; and survived 10 days in a small tent in a blizzard at 25,000′ on K2 – he wouldn’t be daunted by 2020. Pffft.

My dad, Dee Molenaar, had a full and wonderful 101 years and seven months. He saw his share of tragedies, but he also saw his share of triumphs.

I miss him. As I look at the photo of him, standing next to my mother on their wedding day, I feel him with me. I feel them both with me. Giving me courage. Telling me it’s all going to be alright. We’ll make it through this.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.