“Springtime’s comin,'” he said. “Cannot tha’ smell it?”

Here’s something to ponder: If my dad (who will turn 100 in a few months) had decided to start closing down shop and preparing for old age at 60 he would have missed out on 40% of his life.

Yeah. Cogitate THAT for awhile. 🙂


So you know how in the springtime you see birds winging through the air with bits of ribbon and grass and straw dangling from their beaks – foraging for materials to build their nests? That’s been me lately. I’ve been on a treasure hunt for scraps and bits of inspiration to build a cozy little mental nest for myself. I just finished my annual spring reading of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a book that never fails to uplift me – and I’ve been turning to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, too, for inspiration. Mr. Rogers has, once again, provided me with a role model – someone I can endeavor to emulate in my own life. And a lecture by Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche brought me a rush of sweet, healing tears.

Here’s some of what I’ve found for my nest –

“Springtime’s comin,'” he said. “Cannot tha’ smell it?”

Mary sniffed and thought she could. “I smell something nice and fresh and damp,” she said.

“That’s th’ good rich earth,” he answered, digging away. “It’s in a good humor makin’ ready to grow things. It’s glad when plantin’ time comes. It’s dull in th’ winter when it’s got nowt to do. In th’ flower gardens out there things will be stirrin’ down below in th’ dark. Th’ sun’s warmin’ ’em. You’ll see bits o’ green spikes stickin’ out o’ th’ black earth after a bit.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

orange pink tulips 2 this one.jpg

Tulips in Tulip Town 2017. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“How could I have stayed abed! Th’ world’s all fair begun again this mornin’, it has. An’ it’s workin’ an’ hummin’ an’ scratchin’ an’ pipin’ an’ nest-buildin’ an’ breathin’ out scents, till you’ve got to be out on it ‘stead o’ lyin’ on your back.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth,” said Mary.
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?… To plant seeds in— to make things grow— to see them come alive,” Mary faltered.
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

entry to garden

Karen’s Secret Garden

“On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakened very early. The sun was pouring in slanting rays through the blinds and there was something so joyous in the sight of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window. She drew up the blinds and opened the window itself and a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her. The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if something Magic had happened to it. There were tender little fluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scores of birds were beginning to tune up for a concert. Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She unchained and unbolted and unlocked and when the door was open she sprang across the step with one bound, and there she was standing on the grass, which seemed to have turned green, and with the sun pouring down on her and warm sweet wafts about her and the fluting and twittering and singing coming from every bush and tree. She clasped her hands for pure joy and looked up in the sky and it was so blue and pink and pearly and white and flooded with springtime light that she felt as if she must flute and sing aloud herself and knew that thrushes and robins and skylarks could not possibly help it.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Just listen to them birds— th’ world seems full of ’em— all whistlin’ an’ pipin’,” he said. “Look at ’em dartin’ about, an’ hearken at ’em callin’ to each other. Come springtime seems like as if all th’ world’s callin’. The leaves is uncurlin’ so you can see ’em— an’, my word, th’ nice smells there is about!” sniffing with his happy turned-up nose. “An’ that poor lad lyin’ shut up an’ seein’ so little that he gets to thinkin’ o’ things as sets him screamin’. Eh! my! we mun get him out here— we mun get him watchin’ an listenin’ an’ sniffin’ up th’ air an’ get him just soaked through wi’ sunshine. An’ we munnot lose no time about it.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Something seemed to have been unbound and released in him, very quietly. ‘What is it?’ he said, almost in a whisper…strange as it seemed to him, there were minutes— sometimes half-hours— when, without his knowing why, the black burden seemed to lift itself again and he knew he was a living man and not a dead one.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“Circumstances, however, were very kind to her, though she was not at all aware of it. They began to push her about for her own good. When her mind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorland cottages crowded with children, with queer crabbed old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids, with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day by day, and also with a moor boy and his ‘creatures,’ there was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts…”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“I’m well! I’m well!” said Colin again, and his face went quite red all over. He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and felt it and thought about it, but just at that minute something had rushed all through him— a sort of rapturous belief and realization and it had been so strong that he could not help calling out. “I shall live forever and ever and ever!” he cried grandly. “I shall find out thousands and thousands of things. I shall find out about people and creatures and everything that grows— like Dickon— and I shall never stop making Magic. I’m well! I’m well! I feel— I feel as if I want to shout out something— something thankful, joyful!”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


“The flowers are growing— the roots are stirring. That is the Magic. Being alive is the Magic— being strong is the Magic. The Magic is in me— the Magic is in me.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“The healing power is Truth and Love, and these do not fail in the greatest emergencies.”
– Mary Baker Eddy
“Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“A false sense of what constitutes happiness is more disastrous to human progress than all that an enemy or enmity can obtrude upon the mind…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Humility is no busy body: it has no moments for trafficking in other people’s business, no place for envy, no time for idle words, vain amusements, and all the et cetera of the ways and means of personal sense.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
– Stephen Hawking

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood won four Emmy awards, and Rogers himself was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys, as described by Esquire’s Tom Junod:

“Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award—and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, ‘All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.’

“And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, ‘I’ll watch the time.’ There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds—and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, ‘May God be with you’ to all his vanquished children.”
– from Wikipedia’s page on Fred Rogers

“Love cannot create His children to inflict harm on one another – not by means of heredity, or contagion, hatred, fear, violence, abuse, any other contact… anger… no – there’s no God in that history. Our eternal link to one another is Love. Our present link to one another is Love. Our past link is Love. All God’s children, in reality, are only connected through love, by Love… I let go of hurts, anger, I let go of false beliefs about connections I had with people in my life. It was so purifying. It’s like I was given a clean white page. A whole new life.”
– Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun— which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Flipped Reflection. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“See here,” she said. “Don’t let us talk about dying; I don’t like it. Let us talk about living.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Robin Family

Mama Robin and babies on our porch. (Karen Molenaar Terrell)


A Prayer for the World

Feel the gentle presence of Love
enfolding all of creation.
Feel the peace of Love
settling on the world.
Feel the power of Love
renewing everything good
and healthy in us.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

flower peace 2

O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight!
Keep thou my child on upward wing to-night.
– Mary Baker Eddy


The Great Heart of Love

“When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

A poem for my love –
A Simple and Unremarkable Perfection

It’s a miracle of perfection.
I am warm and fed and I can hear
my loved one tapping the keys
on his laptop
and clearing his throat
near me
I have chamomile tea with
cream and a chunk of
sourdough bread and the wind is
the rain-splattered screen on the
and making the lights behind it
look like they’re dancing
I feel no pain or fear
I know I’m completely safe
and I imagine coming through
some terrible danger
and finding myself in this room
and what a miracle that would
seem to be
and how much I’d appreciate the
simple unremarkable
perfection of it
and I am filled with gratitude
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from A Poem Lives on My Windowsill



Art: Finding the Real Man and Woman

“How embarrassing to be human.” 
– Kurt Vonnegut

“Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me.  I hope and trust that you and I may meet in truth and know each other there, and know as we are known of God.”
– Mary Baker Eddy (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, page 120: 2

I did not know until last week that a biography had been written about one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut. The book, called And So It Goes: A Life, was published in 2011 – four years after Vonnegut’s death – and, according to the reviews, presents a Vonnegut different than the man we see in his books. In reviewing the book, Joseph A. Domino writes: “I have not read a lot of biographies; they could probably be counted on two hands. But this one is definitely the strangest. It is a systematic and comprehensive chronicle of Vonnegut and well-written. But Shields has something negative to say on almost every page about the author to the point of moral judgment. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Another reviewer, B. Wilfong, writes: “It seems on browsing through some of the reviews of And So It Goes that many readers picked up this biography hoping to find the persona that Kurt Vonnegut crafted, as opposed to an honest story about the person. This is not a hit piece, as some reviewers assert, but rather a biography of the man, not the image he cultivated to sell his books.”

So here’s the thing: I am a huge fan of Vonnegut’s writing – I love the humanity and humor he brings to his stories. I love the heart. His writing comes from a place of  compassion and honesty, and forgiveness of people for their human-ness. All I want to know about Vonnegut I can find in his writing. The other stuff – personal insecurities, foibles, flaws, mistakes – that stuff doesn’t really interest me.  When Wilfong refers to “the persona that Vonnegut crafted, as opposed to an honest story about the person” – I find myself asking who’s to say which is the real Vonnegut, and which the illusion? Maybe we find the real Vonnegut – the essence of him – in his writing.

The same is true for my feelings about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. When people have used examples of her human-ness to discount her writings – she used morphine; she divorced; she wanted this painting of her to be touched-up to make her look more attractive; and, in the end, she died like everyone else – it doesn’t affect me the way maybe her critics expect these things to affect me. I can relate to Eddy wanting pictures of her to be attractive – I mean, how many times have I refused to let someone tag me in a Facebook picture? And the fact that Eddy died in the end, like everyone else, doesn’t at all take away, for me, the value of her words and thoughts.

I’ve never been someone who followed people, you know? I follow ideas. And I love the ideas I find in Vonnegut’s writing, and in Eddy’s. I don’t need to know about their personal lives to be able to appreciate the wisdom and truth in their words.

The Wikipedia page about the Death of Ludwig van Beethoven reads, in part: “There is dispute about the cause of Beethoven’s death; alcoholic cirrhosis, syphilis, infectious hepatitis, lead poisoning, sarcoidosis, and Whipple’s disease have all been proposed.” Does Beethoven’s alcoholism, or the venereal disease he suffered from, make his music less beautiful? From an historical perspective, the facts of his life are interesting, I guess – but I think where we find the real essence of Beethoven is in his music – that’s where we see him rising above his mortality. The Wikipedia page reads: “Beethoven suffered declining health throughout the last years of his life, including the so-called ‘Late period’ when he produced some of his most admired work.”

And then there’s my dad, Dee Molenaar, who will turn 100 in June. What a life he has had! The adventures! The things he’s seen! The amazing people he’s met! He is an extraordinary man who’s lead an extraordinary life. Has he made mistakes? Yup. Does he have flaws and foibles? Sure. He’s human, after all. And humans aren’t perfect. But I think it’s when you look at Dad’s artwork that you really see the essence of him. He captures the beauty he sees in “his” mountains and paints it on paper for all of us to see with him – through his eyes. That beauty he sees and loves – that’s who my dad really is – that’s Dad rising above his mortality and human-ness and helping us all catch a glimpse of the immortal – the beauty that endures.

That’s what the arts do for us, right? In poetry, music, painting – in creative forms of expression – we are lifted above our mortality into a higher realm. We are inspired. We glimpse something brighter and more beautiful than the human flaws, foibles, and mistakes that would try to anchor us to mortality. I think the arts help us see what is real in each other.  I’m thinking we should let people’s art lift us up, instead of letting their human-ness keep us anchored to mortality.

“The real man is spiritual and immortal, but the mortal and imperfect so-called ‘children of men’ are counterfeits from the beginning, to be laid aside for the pure reality.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Dad painting

Dee Molenaar painting

New Views

“Each success stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

new vews of divine Love

I pointed my camera towards the sunset as I drove home – my eyes on the road – and clicked. I had no idea if this one was going to turn out or not… 🙂

“…bathes all in beauty and light.”

“Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Love, redolent with unselfishness...

A rainbow arches over Padilla Bay in Skagit County, Washington. (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)