Review for *Scrapbook of a Year and a Day*

It means a lot to me that Mary Metz took the time to read and review my book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, on Goodreads and on her blog. If you are an author yourself, you know what her words meant to me. Mary wrote:

Karen Molenaar Terrell’s Scrapbook of a Year and a Day is, essentially, a compilation of Facebook posts written between January 19, 2020 and January 20, 2021. If I were to collect my FB posts, it would be very, very dull indeed, but Karen eliminated the silly cat videos, if she ever posted any, and has instead put together a moving and coherent account of the tumultuous year we all lived through and her personal experience of the year following the death of her father, Dee Molenaar. What I particularly love about Karen–and this book–is her perspective on things and her constant striving to live up to her ideals.

I’m really not a dog-earrer–I find it a vile habit–and yet I folded down the corners on several pages. For example:

August 25, 2020
Please do not tell me what I believe, feel, and think.
-Do not assume because I am a progressive and tend to vote for Democrats that I don’t believe in God, “hate the Bible,” and want to kill babies and take away your guns.
–Do not assume because I believe in God that I am anti-science, believe the earth is flat and the world was, literally, created in seven days.
–Do not assume that because I’m white, middle-aged and named “Karen” I am racist and want to talk to your manager.
–Do not assume because I identify as “Christian” I am conservative, opposed to LGBTQ rights, opposed to women’s rights, travel heavily armed, and am voting for you-know-who.

I think that if we see each other in terms of stereotypes we miss out on some beautiful friendships and kinships with our fellow humans.

My biggest challenge right now is myself. I guess that’s always my biggest challenge, isn’t it? Stay kind, Karen. Stay true. Keep loving. Look for ways to bring humor to those in desperate need of a good laugh. Don’t hate. Never hate. Be wise–but don’t be cynical. Be discerning–but don’t be cruel.

Love, help me be what you need me to be.
Amen.

October 17, 2020
{A lot of anecdote, involving buying shoes for a guy on the street, deleted here because there’s only so much typing I’m willing to do. But it’s a beautiful story.}

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 that 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.

Solace at the Cemetery
In these panicked times
In these fretful, frenzied, frantic times
I have found solace at the cemetery.
The shells of those who’ve lived
here and moved on
to whatever comes beyond
no longer need to distance themselves
from anyone, from me.
I find peace with them–the chrysalises
of my friends–Mike, Rachael, and Debby.

I wander amid the tombstones, snapping
photos of them, and the spinning wheels–
the bright spinners are the only movement
in the cemetery and I feel
drawn to the movement of their rainbow
spinning, faster and faster as I approach,
in a show just for me.

I’m allowed to be here. In the sunshine.
In the peace of the cemetery.
And no one disturbs me as I wander
through the final beds
for the shells of those who
are no longer scared of what lies ahead.

I’m not saying it’s a flawless book–there are a lot of commas I’m itching to add to these excerpts–but it’s a truly beautiful book, full of genuine goodness and kindness. These days, I’ll really, really take that.

Mother’s Day at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship

I’ll be speaking to the Skagit Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship on Mother’s Day via Zoom at 10:30. This will be the third time I’ve had the opportunity to be the speaker there – and it’s always such a joy for me! It’s like being in a comedy club. The SUUF folks know how to laugh.

Here’s the announcement in their newsletter:
A Love Story for Mother’s Day
Karen Molenaar Terrell returns to SUUF to share some of the memories and stories from a love-filled life with her mother, Colleen “Mozzy” Molenaar, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 89. As a visitor to SUUF that year, Colleen was so impressed with our church that she immediately declared that it was where she wanted her final memorial to be held… and it was, just months later. Her grandson, Casey, described her as “… a giving and goofy woman.” Today we’ll hear from Karen about this, her “great taste in shoes” and much more.

Moz and Einstein.

A Walk at Twilight

Last night:
Went outside and took a walk around the house and let the twilight wrap itself around me. Listened to the frogsong, and birds chirping to each other. Breathed in the cool evening air, filled with the scents of apple blossom and just-mowed grass and damp earth. And a flood of memories rushed into my thoughts: sitting outside with Dad when I was a little girl, looking at the stars and watching for satellites; Camping out at Mount Rainier – the family sitting around the campfire while Dad played his accordion. Family trips into the Canadian Rockies. And I felt Dad with me, right now, looking at the evening sky with me. Always with me.

(Photo of a Skagit County, Washington, sunset by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Tulip Town 2021

My husband and I visited Tulip Town (Mount Vernon, Washington) on Thursday. The tulips aren’t quite in full bloom, yet – but it was a sunny, blue-sky day; everyone was friendly and full of good humor; and get this – I asked a random person to take our photo and he turned out to be a professional portrait photographer! Can I pick ’em or can I pick ’em?! I’ll attach his photo of us at the bottom with a photo credit for him – he did a great job!

Here are some of the photos I brought back back from Tulip Town. (Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Below: Photo of Karen Molenaar Terrell and Scott Terrell by professional photographer, Bob Wachtendonk, of North Bend, Washington.

It’s Here! It’s Here!

Mother Earth News is using another one of my photos on its “Photos from the Field” page! This one will be in the April-May edition. I got my copies in the mail today. Check it out – my photo is of the heron at sunset…

Pushing Me Into the Now

The winds blew across the bay –
creating stretch marks on its surface –
and great cleansing gusts blew through me, too –
rowdy and playful – forcing me from thoughts
of the thens and fears of the tomorrows
and pushing me instantly into the now
of doing what I could to not blow away.
Putting everything in perspective for me again.

There is no problem too big it can’t be solved.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Photo of Bellingham Bay Boardwalk by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Introduction to Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist

Introduction to Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist:

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.

I should probably put in a disclaimer here, too—the views expressed in these pages are not necessarily the views shared by other Christian Scientists. Christian Scientists are really a pretty diverse group of people—there are Democrat Christian Scientists and Republican Christian Scientists, “Green,” and “Red,” and “Blue” Christian Scientists, and Christian Scientists with no political affiliations at all. Frankly, I like that about us. We keep each other on our toes.

I should also tell you that this book is not an authorized piece of Christian Science literature. If you want to actually study Christian Science you should probably read the textbook for this way of life, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

My purpose for writing this epistle is really two-fold (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “two-fold” in my life, and using it now is making me feel sort of professorial. I like the feeling.):

First-foldly, to introduce you to one Christian Scientist so that if you ever hear someone talking fearfully and ignorantly (feargnorantly?) about Christian Scientists you’ll be in a position to say, “I have a friend who’s a Christian Scientist, and, although it’s true she’s a bit of a nut, she’s also…” and you can go on and talk about how your friend has used her study of Christian Science to try to make the world a happier place.

Second-foldly, I feel the need to acknowledge God’s blessings in my life. I don’t want to be like those nine lepers in the Bible who couldn’t take the time to thank Jesus for healing them. I want to be like that one leper who “fell down on his face at his feet” before Jesus and gave him thanks (Luke 17). Through my study of Christian Science I’ve witnessed some incredible proofs of our Father-Mother God’s love for Her creation in my life. God has filled my life with infinite blessings and it’s time for me to acknowledge these blessings to others.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

In a Perfect Moment

I spent years searching for those perfect moments
and then in a perfect moment it became perfectly clear
that each and every moment I am closer than near
to Love and Truth
and Life
right now
right here
every moment is perfect
There is never a separation between all that’s good
and me.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Heron at Sunset. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

The Last Visit with Daddy

“Karen”
January 18, 2020

Dad is in bed. His eyes are closed. He’s very still, but I see his chest moving. He’s still with us. I lean over and kiss his forehead and say into his ear, “Hi Daddy. It’s Karen.”
(There’s no response at first. Then his eyes open and he looks at me.)
Dad: (Weakly.) Karen.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: (I can feel the effort he’s making to mumble the words.) Ah uv you.
Karen: (Smiling at Dad – my heart filled with tenderness.) You old mountain goat. (That’s what Mom had always called Dad – and it comes to me – out of the blue – to call him that. Dad smiles at me. And now I find myself singing to him – that old Jeannette McDonald-Nelson Eddy song that he and Mom used to sing to each other…) When I’m calling you-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh… (I see Dad perk up a little. I get this sense that Mom is calling to him.)

We don’t say much after this. I stay for a while, stroking Dad’s forehead, and watching “Maverick” on Dad’s television. Every now and then Dad opens his eyes and checks to see if I’m still there. Eventually he falls back to sleep. I leave to go home and fetch my husband and son for a return visit. When I arrive home and describe Dad’s condition, the husband and son immediately let me know they’re with me and we go back to Dad’s house.

We enter Dad’s room and approach the bed. He’s sleeping. We pull up three chairs and watch him for a while. His foot is moving back and forth. I approach Dad’s bed.
Karen: Hi, Daddy. It’s Karen. And Andrew is here. And Scotty.
(Dad opens his eyes and looks at me.)
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
(Dad’s eyes are locked on mine and he nods his head at me once, twice. An affirmation. I nod back at him. He reaches up and holds my arm and squeezes it gently. I hold his hand and squeeze. He squeezes my hand back.)
Karen: Here’s Andrew, Daddy.
(Andrew sits close to his grampa. This is his time with Grampa. Love is exchanged. This time belongs to them and it’s not mine to share in words.)
Karen: And here’s Scotty.
(Scott grips Dad’s hand and receives a strong grip in return. They both grin at each other. Male bonding.) We all feel when it’s time to leave and let Dad get back to the business of sleeping. I get up and kiss Dad’s forehead and tell him I love him. Scott says his good byes. Andrew is the last to leave – he gets a strong good bye handshake from his grandfather before he leaves him to sleep.

(Excerpted from The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad.)

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George  – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps  up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell