Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving

cozy time of year
tea kettle whistling
and kitties curled on the couch
leaves dancing on the winds in the woods
and rain pattering on the windows
warm fire in the woodstove
smell of apples
and a pie baking in the oven
full of gratitude
for rain and dancing leaves
for kitties and warmth and pie
for family and love
and you
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Autumn photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Like a Happy Pinball in a Pinball Machine

A friend lost her granddaughter in the University of Idaho tragedy last week. I’ve been feeling shaky and ungrounded since learning about this. Yesterday I woke up needing reassurance from the Cosmos.

The Cosmos gave me a joyful hug and told me to get out of bed and get ready.

Soon a phone call came from our youngest son, Xander. The car he and his wife, Kyla, share had a flat tire and he needed a lift. I could help him with this – I had nothing on my schedule – a completely free day – and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend time than helping my loved one. So I drove up to Bellingham, picked up Xander, stopped at the co-op so he could buy groceries for their restaurant, and dropped him off at his business.

But now that I was already up in Bellingham I thought maybe I could park at Waypoint Park and walk up to the Farmers Market – get a little exercise and explore. So I parked at Waypoint Park, but before I started up to the Farmers Market I decided to give my oldest son, Andrew, a call to see what he was up to. Turns out he and his wife had just that moment decided to go to lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant a few blocks from where I was parked, and they invited me to join them. They said it was their turn to buy ME a meal. I humbly accepted their invitation.

I had a lovely meal at the Soy House Restaurant with Andrew and Christina. A healing peace surrounded me in the restaurant. Vietnamese music played in the background and pretty paper lanterns of autumn colors hung from the ceiling. And there I was – with loved ones – eating good food and sharing stories.

I told Andrew that his dad was installing our dishwasher and the dishwasher had come with extra pieces, and pieces that didn’t align with other pieces, and that at one point I’d suggested we bring our son with the engineering degree down to help – a rocket scientist might be useful at a time like this. Andrew said he’d be happy to come down and help and suggested that he ride down with me back home and then I could bring him back to Bellingham when I fetched Xander later on.

So we brought Christina back to their place, and then Andrew returned with me to the homestead to lend his support to the dishwashing project, and to work in our back field, clearing out blackberry vines.

We spent a lovely few hours together – tromping around in the frosted wetland – making plans about where we’d plant the cedar seedlings that keep popping up in our deck boxes. It was so wonderful to have Andrew with us for a while.

And then it was back to Bellingham to pick up Xander’s car and bring it to him at his restaurant. When we dropped off the key to Xander’s car, he and his wife, Kyla, invited us to join them for dinner later on – they would pay, they said. We humbly accepted the invitation, and then Andrew and I spent time until the dinner rendez-vous in his apartment, where he unfolded his little keyboard piano from the corner and regaled me with a private concert. “What instrument do you want?” he asked, as he prepared the piano, and I told him an oboe – so he pushed a button or two and I heard the deep, full tones of an oboe come out as he made his music. Peace filled the space.

We met up with Xander and Kyla for a vegan dinner – sat together at a table near the heating lamp – and laughed and talked and enjoyed each other’s company for the next hour.

And I shared how I’d started my day – by asking the Cosmos for reassurance. And I told Xander that – I know it maybe wasn’t under the best circumstances for him – but I was really glad he’d called for help. I’d spent the day like a happy pinball in a pinball machine – bouncing from one lovely moment with my family to the next.

The death of my friend’s granddaughter had really shaken me. I’d felt the loss deep in my own body and I’d wanted – still want – to somehow make it so that that tragedy never happened and no one had to feel the pain of it. But maybe that tragedy has also served to make me more grateful for the love and family in my own life – and maybe that’s one way I can honor the victims at the University of Idaho.

I asked the Cosmos for reassurance, and the Cosmos gave me reassurance over-flowing. Love still is.

I Hear You

Sometimes there just aren’t words.
But I’ll try.

I hear you.
I feel the pain you’re feeling
and want to fold you into a fierce hug
and absorb the pain into my own body
and relieve you of it.

I hear you.
I feel the joy you’re feeling
and want to dance and spin with you
under the stars until we drop together
from happy exhaustion.

I hear you.
I hear your weeping.
I hear your laughter.
I hear the music of your heart.
And I want you to know
you’re not alone in any of it.

We’re all in this symphony of life
together.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Originally published in September 2021.)

Karen in her twirly dress.

Hugged in Love’s Sunshine

Earlier I posted, for my friends, a photo of an agate I found on a walk around the block. Here’s a little more about that:

I’d been watching the Seahawks-Buccaneers football game on television. It was down to the last two minutes. I could see my beloved Seahawks were not going to win this one, but I was, weirdly, okay with that. They’d played well in the last half and I was proud of them.

It looked beautiful outside, though – sunny and autumnal – and I didn’t want to waste even one more moment in front of the TV. So I zipped up my coat and went outside to see what I might find out in the great outdoors.

I lifted my face to the sun and just soaked in the warmth. I actually felt like I was breathing in sunshine (maybe I’ll write a poem about that some time). And… I felt this… rightness with the world. I felt immediately enveloped in Love – pure, whole, unlimited, universal, undiluted Love. And I thought of my friends and family and brought all of the people I know into that hug of Love with me.

And then I looked down onto the street, and found this agate just sitting there, waiting for me, glowing up at me in the sunshine.

Magic!

A Cat in My Lap

I was in some pain last night – I think it was from the digging and planting and hauling I did yesterday- and I couldn’t sleep. I came downstairs and sang the hymns Mom used to sing to me when I was a little girl and wasn’t feeling well. I could picture her face and hear her voice and feel her love as I sang to myself and it was comforting. I began to feel better and the pain faded away.

And as I was feeling full of gratitude for that, Sparky Cat suddenly jumped up and lay down next to me, leaned his head against my lap, and let me pet him. For you to understand what that meant to me you need to know that Sparky was a feral kitty when Scott brought him into our house five years ago, and he’s still very wary of being too close to people. He likes belly rubs from Scott and sometimes he’ll sit next to my chair and let me pet his head, but he’s not one of those cats that jumps in your lap and will allow himself to be picked up. He is skittish about too much contact. So this was huge!

In the Body of Life

sustained
and maintained
by the body of Life –
we are nothing less
than the whole
perfection
projection
reflection
affection
of Love
held in the never-ending
connection
with all that is Good
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Blue Cosmos by Karen Molenaar Terrell

I Felt Dad with Me Today

I felt Dad with me today as I drove down Chuckanut through the changing autumn leaves. Autumn was his favorite time of year. October was his favorite month. The last few years of his 101 years, he was my companion on almost-daily drives – and I used to love driving him through forests full of gold and copper this time of year. Sometimes we wouldn’t say anything, and sometimes he’d tell me about the geology or the history of the places we drove. I miss seeing him sitting in the seat next to me, his alpine hat on his head. I miss his gravelly voice giving me lectures on glacial till and glacial moraines…

Dad: This is beautiful farm country. There used to be ice 5,000 meters deep here. (He points to the hills surrounding the flats.) Those are glacial moraines. They were created by glaciers.

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

Dad is just finishing up his breakfast when I get there. We put shoes on his feet, his alpine hat on his head, and a sweater over his shoulders and load him up in my car for a drive. First stop: Sisters Espresso for his root beer float.

As we’re driving through the Skagit flats…

Dad: What kind of bird would you like to be if you were a bird? A seagull?

Karen: Yeah, maybe. (Thinking.) Or a kingfisher… those are pretty cool… they dodge up and down and skim the water… how about you?

Dad: (Thinking.) A seagull, I guess.

(We drive along the water for a bit.)

Dad: How’d you like to be a seabird, just sitting on the water, waiting for your next meal to turn up…

(On impulse, I turn down the airport road and head towards the little Skagit airport. Every now and then I stop to take pictures of the autumnal trees.)

Karen: I love autumn!

Dad: (Nodding his head…) Yeah. I think my favorite time of year is late October.

(I discover there’s a flight museum at the airport I never knew was there and pull over to take a picture of an old propeller. Dad’s turning his head from left to right – checking things out.)

Dad: I really appreciate you taking me on these scenic drives. Thank you.

Karen: I enjoy these drives.

(We head back to Dad’s home and pull into the driveway.)

Dad: This looks familiar.

Karen: Yup. You’re home!

Dad: Are they expecting me?

Karen: Yes, they are.

Dad: What are their names?

(I tell him the names of the people who care for him, and he nods his head – I think he’s trying to remember the names of his hosts, so he can be a good guest.)

I bought Dad a pair of headphones for his television – I’m hoping they can help him hear the dialogue. Gwen and Cindy and I play around with the headphones for a while – trying to get them to work – and we finally find success! I lead Dad to his room and put the headphones on him, and he can hear the conversation on the television. We settle him onto his bed.)

Karen: (Waving good-bye…) I love you, Daddy!

Dad: (Waving back…) I love you, too!

(Excerpted from Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad.)

The Blessing of Friendship

Yesterday I got together with a group of friends I hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic – former colleagues at an alternative high school – women who’d been shoulder-to-shoulder with me in the trenches as our school went through some challenging times. Our commitment to the well-being of our students, our shared sense of humor, and our trust in each other, had drawn us together and bonded us for life.

And here we sat at the local Starbuck’s – together again – a group of women ranging in age from 30 to 70 – two of us retired now, two of us still in the trenches of an educational landscape that has changed drastically in the last couple years. We hugged and we laughed. We got caught up – talked about families and skirmishes with COVID and what strategies we’re using to stay sane in an insane time, and how education changed during the pandemic. We talked about adventures and aging and the adventure of aging, and how older women are viewed by society – the bad AND the good of that – the tendency to dismiss older women and the freedom that comes with aging. We shared and listened. We took turns and gave each other time to talk – and it was a natural thing to do this – it always amazes me how naturally the conversation flows with these women. There are no prima donnas here. We are genuinely interested in each other.

After we’d been there a couple hours – completely enveloped in our bubble of friendship and mostly unaware of what was going on around us – a woman in her sixties rose from a table near us and headed for the exit. As she passed our table she stopped and smiled and said, “I miss my friends! I’ve enjoyed listening to your laughter!” She was very cool – I knew she would have fit right in with this group – and we thanked her and wished her a good day.

Not long after that, a couple of men in their sixties – they looked like men who might have just gotten back from a hike together- rose from THEIR table and passed us for the exit. One of them looked over at me as he passed and I smiled and he smiled back one of those genuine full-faced smiles and, in that instant, I just KNEW that he’d been listening into our conversation, too. And, for a moment, I was embarrassed, remembering all the things we’d been talking about at our table. But then I realized that his smile had been kind, and more of a “we’re-all-in-this-together” type of smile than a “you-guys-are-batshit-crazy” type of smile, and that felt good.

Two and a half hours later my friends and I hugged each other good bye – promised each other we’d get together again soon – and each of us headed home to our families. But those two and a half hours together were like an oasis in the desert for me. I felt my soul soaking up the love and inspiration and fellowship, and left feeling rejuvenated.

What a blessing to have friends like these.

Friends

On the Clock Beside the Bed


It says 3:33 on the clock beside the bed
and when I look at the clock sideways
I see birds flying on the canvas in my head.
I think, “Somewhere in the world a new life
has just been born!” I’m filled with hope –
not “hoping-for-the-best” hope, but expectancy-
of-good hope – hope bigger and vaster,
reaching me faster
than the speed of light.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Love’s celebration
feel the joy surrounding you
never-ending Life
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Do You Not Think You Have Enough Love?”

Lately these memories have kept coming up – memories of times I was treated unfairly, bullied, ridiculed, misjudged, betrayed by people I trusted and loved (the kinds of things probably most people have experienced at some point) – and it was painful for me. But I knew there was some lesson I was supposed to get from these memories – something I still needed to learn from the past – so, this time, I didn’t just try to dance around them – I let the memories do what they needed to do for me. And then today this thought came to me: “What is it you think you’re lacking here? Do you not think you have enough love? Do you feel like you’ve been denied something you should have had, but didn’t?” And that caught me up short and I found myself shaking my head at my ricidulousness and laughing out loud. And I realized there was NEVER a moment when I lacked love – or when I lacked ANYthing real and good in my life! My life has overflowed with love! I am, and always have been, wealthy beyond fathoming with love! I’ve never been on the outside of Love and NOTHING has or ever could separate me from Love, God.

Okay. That’s all. Just wanted to share.

Carry on then…