January 28, 2023: Highlights from a Day

January 28, 2023
The highlights of my day:

– The sunrise!!!

-There’s a shop closing in Bellingham – the owner is retiring. I happened to be walking by the door just as the owner, who was inside the store, reached the door with a big box. I swung the door open like it was choreographed for me to do that. She was surprised and thanked me and I wished her a happy retirement. I love when people connect at the just right moment.

– An aisle at the local supermarket was blocked by a young family – the father was on his cellphone and was unaware that people were trying to get around him. I moved to the side so a gentleman on the other side of the family could try to squeeze through – the gentleman smiled at me and thanked me and managed to get through – “I made it!” he said, grinning. And then I squeezed past the little family, too, without knocking anything over. Victory! I love it when people can adjust to each other, and problem solve and have fun with each other.

– Years ago – in August 2001 (just three weeks before 9-11) my family and I visited NYC. I bought a little necklace at Tiffany’s while I was there. I haven’t been able to wear this necklace for years, though, because the chain got all tangled up. I have another necklace – a locket with pictures of my sons when they were toddlers – that I couldn’t wear because it lost its clasp. Today I decided to see if I could get these necklaces fixed. I brought my necklaces into the supermarket jewelry department to see if they could add a clasp to the one necklace and untangle the other. It would take a couple weeks to add a clasp, the man there told me, but he could untangle the chain for me on the other necklace – and he did! For free!

– I went to a second jewelry store to see if they had a clasp for the locket. They had one that might work, but it would cost $90 and I didn’t feel like I could spend that much for a clasp. The kind salesclerk understood, but she asked me if she could clean the Tiffany necklace for me – no charge!

– I went to a third jewelry store (Dreamworks Jewelry) to see if THEY might have a clasp for my necklace there. And oh! I LOVED this store! It was like walking back in time. There were old clocks everywhere – chiming and clicking – and the place was a glorious, happy mess of projects. A man with a magnifying glass in front of his eye came from behind his desk and asked me how he could help. I asked him if he might have a clasp for the necklace. He said yes, he could take care of my necklace for me. He rummaged around in a drawer, found what he needed, applied his jeweler’s tools, and – voila! – handed me my necklace all fixed! And he only charged me $15!

I’m wearing my locket with the new clasp as I type. It feels good to have it around my neck again.

New Shoes and a Louise Penny Novel

I’ve been struggling the last couple weeks. There’s been tragedy and killing, death and loss. There have been reminders that human life is fragile and short and I’m well beyond half-way through mine.

But in the middle of these morose musings I needed to get new shoes. It was time to make my yearly pilgrimage to the REI shoe department.

These days I have mixed feelings about going to REI. On the one hand, I love being surrounded by mountain people and mountain equipment and mountain clothes. On the other hand, I am not the person I was when I first visited REI all those years ago. I no longer have a need for new crampons or ice axes. There are no major mountain climbs on my horizon. I no longer fit in REI’s little clothes.

But I can still fit in REI’s shoes.

And so I presented myself to Jesse, a salesclerk in the shoe department. I could not have asked for a friendlier, more helpful clerk. I told her I’d worked at the old REI on Capitol Hill years ago, and we bonded in our REI kinship. She brought me three or four pairs of shoes until I found the just-right pair – a pair of shoes that made me feel like I was walking on clouds. A pair of shoes that made me want to run and skip and dance. A perfect pair of shoes.

When I went to the cashier to pay for the shoes, I told him that my dad had been one of the early members of REI. His REI membership number was 38, I told him. The cashier looked up #38 and found it belonged to someone else. Oops. So much for family legend. Hmmm… I gave the cashier my Mom and Dad’s old phone number and he clicked the number into his computer. He looked up and smiled and said that Dad’s number is 946 and that it’s still active! The idea of that really tickled me. Dad died almost three years ago – at the age of 101 – but his REI account lives on. How cool is that?! I said that 946 was still pretty good, right? And the cashier laughed with me and said, yeah, it was pretty good.

***
Louise Penny’s new book came out yesterday. I googled to see if there were any stores near me with her book in stock and, this morning, I went on a quest to our local Target to see if I could find one. I rushed to the books displayed in the front of the store – but no Louise Penny there. I hurried to the book department at the back of the store and scanned the books there – but no Louise Penny. Finally, I went to the customer service counter and inquired about the book – both the attendants there got on their phones to see if they could find any books in inventory, and pretty soon a nice young man told me that it looked like they should have some somewhere – maybe still in boxes in the back room. I told him Louise Penny’s books were great – funny and smart and kind – and I highly recommended them. He nodded and said he had some free audiobooks coming to him – maybe he’d get the audiobook version. He led me back to the book department and looked with me on the book shelves. Then he told me to wait there and he’d see if he could find what I was looking for in the back. A couple of minutes later he appeared with another Target employee, who immediately walked up to a book shelf and plucked Louise Penny’s book off of it for me! Hurrah!!!

***
I’ve started Louise Penny’s *A World of Curiosities* now. Eight pages in I come upon this:

“He held the younger man’s eyes, inviting him to set aside for a moment the great brutality that existed and to remember the acts of greater courage. Of integrity and decency. Of self-control.

“Of forgiveness.

“Not by moral giants, not performed by superhumans. These were men and women of human size and proportion. Some were cops. Some were not.

“What blinded us, he told Beauvoir, were the horrific acts. They threatened to overwhelm us and obscure the decency. It was so easy to remember the cruelty because those left a wound, a scab that hid the rest. Hid the best. But those appalling acts, those appalling people, were the exception.”
– Louise Penny

***
Just the words I needed to read today.

Karen Molenaar Terrell

“God is natural good… Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

The Beauty of Humanity Is Everywhere

I’m in the checkout line at the supermarket. In front of me is one of those shopping carts that looks like a little car and there’s a youngster – maybe a year old – sitting in the back of it. While his older siblings help his mom load things onto the conveyor belt, I play peek-a-book with the toddler. He’s smiling at me – he gets that I’m having fun with him. And is there anything better than getting a smile from a child as you play peek-a-boo?

Now it’s my turn to unload my things onto the belt. I glance to the man behind me as I reach for a People magazine and say, embarrassed, “Pretend you don’t see me reaching for a gossip magazine.”

He laughs and says, “I’m not going to judge. You get whatever you need to get.”

I point to the cover. “It’s Helen Mirren. I love Helen Mirren.”

“Oh,” he says, “me, too!” He adds, “You know who I really miss is Betty White!”

We talk for a bit about what a wonderful character Betty White was – and share some of our favorite Betty White scenes with each other. Then we talk for a bit about our parents – I mention to him that my dad lived to be 101. I tell him that when my mom died at 89, Dad said, “I always knew she’d die young!” And he laughs with me about that. “Old” and “young” are relative terms.

Before I leave, I run into the family with the car-cart again. The little boy is still sitting in the back of it and his siblings are playing with him. I tell his mom that I’d played peek-a-book with him earlier while they’d been at the checkout counter, and I’d gotten a smile from him. She laughs and looks over at her son, and agrees that he’s a lot of fun.

I love people – old, young, on the cover of a magazine, or sitting in the back of a car-cart – the beauty of humanity is everywhere.

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

Meeting Cool People in the Customer Service Line

I had the best time waiting in the customer service line yesterday.

Earlier in the week I’d bought a DVD that looked to be on sale for $7.99 from its original price of $16.99. When I got home I’d discovered I’d been charged $16.99. At the time I’d just shrugged it off as one of those things and went about life.But yesterday, when I’d been back in the store, I’d seen that movie was STILL on sale for $7.99 and I wondered if I could get reimbursed for the extra I’d paid for it earlier. I didn’t have my receipt with me or anything, but I had my customer ID number in my head and I thought the customer service folks might be able to see my purchasing history in their computers. So I got at the end of the customer service line to find out.

The nicest people were in line with me. The line was pretty long when I got in the back of it, and when a young man wearing a WSU jacket got behind me I suggesed maybe we should shift the line so we didn’t block people from getting past us. He agreed and we started forming the line to the right – but now we were blocking the path to the restroom. The woman in front of me smiled and said that, in her experience, she found it was best to make the line go the other way. So the young man said, “Here, let’s go this way” and stepped aside so I could get in front of him going the other direction. Team work!

There was a lady in front of us who had the coolest hat – it was a panda face hat with ears and a smile. And a gentleman ahead of me, who’d patiently waited in line a really long time, smiled and laughed and thanked the customer service rep. when she was finally able to help him. I gave him a thumbs up as he walked past me on his way out, and he smiled over his mask and gave me a thumbs up back.

When I got to the customer service representative she was so helpful! She told me what I needed to do to take care of my problem – it involved going back into the store to find another copy of the movie and then getting at the end of the customer service line again. I thanked her and went to get the DVD I needed.

When I’d gotten the DVD I needed, I got back at the end of the line. I had a choice at this point – let myself feel frustrated or let myself enjoy the moment. I chose to enjoy the moment. There was, honestly, no place else I would rather have been at that moment than waiting in line with all the other cool customers, watching people and laughing with them. I was safe and comfortable and had everything I needed right there.

There was a young mom in front of me in the line with her son – a little boy of about two with his hands in his pockets – he looked like a little man – so cute! I smiled and waved at him and he smiled and waved back at me – which totally made my day.

When I got back to the customer service rep. she was very efficient and helpful and I ended up getting $9 back, and an apology for being overcharged for the DVD I’d bought on sale earlier in the week.

$9 for standing in line 15 minutes and making new friends seems like a pretty good deal to me.

P.S. The woman with the cool panda hat was Asian; the man who gave me the thumbs up was Black; the woman standing in front of me was White; and the man standing behind me was Latino, I think. I’ll let the little boy with his hands in his pockets represent any little boy anywhere with his hands in his pockets.

May We All Bring Some Light to Our World

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
Let’s have a good day today. Let’s find something to laugh about. Let’s find a way to be kind. Let’s find some small victory in today. May we all help bring some light to our world.
Karen

Let all that now divides us
Remove and pass away,
Like shadows of the morning
Before the blaze of day.
Let all that now unites us
More sweet and lasting prove,
A closer bond of union,
In a blest land of love.
– Jane Borthwick, Hymn #196 in the Christian Science Hymnal

NASA, our home planet

Meet My New Friend, Bridger

(Originally published on bellinghambayblog.)

So a cool thing happened this morning: I was up in Bellingham, doing my walk, and when I got to Boulevard Park I saw a man using one of those ball launchers to fling a tennis ball to his dog. I was smiling at the dog as I came around on the path. And then – to my surprise and delight – the dog nabbed the tennis ball his human flung to him and brought it to ME! He laid it down at my feet and looked up at me, hopefully. I’m pretty sure the dog was smiling. I picked up the ball and threw it back towards the dog’s human – but the ball only got about half-way there. The dog picked it up and brought it back to me again! I was so tickled that the dog chose to include me in his game. I threw it again and the dog went chasing after it.

Birch, the dog’s human, told me his dog’s name is Bridger – like Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. (One of my mountain-climbing dad’s favorite places.)

Bridger made my day.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here’s a picture of Bridger smiling at me…

The World Still Needs…

(Originally posted on Humoristianity.)

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
When Humoristianity was established in 2007, I founded our one true fallacious faith on these tenets:
1) You must be able to laugh at yourself.
2) You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others.
3) You must want nothing but good for everyone, everywhere in the universe.
4) You must have a natural aversion to meetings, committees, and scheduled events (as we will be having none of those).
5) You must enjoy the humor of… (I’m not going to even bother to name names here – what was true in 2007 isn’t necessarily true in 2021 – but I believe Monty Python might ALWAYS be included on the list.)

The last several years have been testing times for our faith. There have been times when I’ve found it very hard to laugh. There have been times when the ludicrous has seemed more sinister than laughable. There have been times when it felt it would have been inappropriate to ask people to laugh at their beliefs. Life took a very dark turn at some point, and what might have seemed laughable in 2007 didn’t seem so funny ten years later.

But this much HASN’T changed: The world still needs you. The world still needs your caring, kindness, and courage. The world still needs your irrepressible joy and irresistible good will to humankind. May the bullies, bigots, and busybodies be transformed by your good-humored, unruffled peace. May the stodgy, stuffy, and stingy be transformed by your generous hearts. May those inclined to shame, blame, and divide, see a better way in the way you live your lives.

You have the power to do incredible good. You are making the world a better place. Go out there and work your magic!
Karen