Trumpeter Swans in the Snow

Trumpeter swans in the snow.

Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

 

2020 Calendar

Every year I put together calendars for friends and family as Christmas gifts. Here are the photos I used for one version this year. These photos were all taken in 2019. It was fun to go through the photos I’d taken during the year and remember all the beauty I’d been able to witness.
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Dad and I and a Flock of Snow Geese

When I arrive at Dad’s house he’s still in bed and looks to be sleeping. I lean over and kiss his forehead and his eyes flutter open. He squints up at me.
Dad: Is it time to eat?
Karen: Yeah. Are you hungry?
Dad: Yeah. I’ll get up.
Karen: Okay.

I let Amanda know that Dad’s ready to get up. I ask her if she thinks he’d be up for a drive today and she tells me she thinks he’d like that. She says he gets bored staying at home all day. It’s harder now because he needs to use a wheelchair – but Amanda tells me she and Dietrick will help me get him in the car.

Before long Dad appears from his room, sitting in the wheelchair – he looks kind of majestic – like a king on his throne. He’s dressed and shod and is wearing his alpine hat. Dietrick and Amanda roll him down the ramp and out to my car, and, together, manage to get him in the seat. I buckle him in and we’re good to go.

As we’re driving out of town and onto Chuckanut…
Dad: I haven’t had breakfast, yet.
Karen: Let’s get you a breakfast sandwich. (I head down Chuckanut Drive for Sisters Espresso. On the way, Dad says something that I can’t quite hear. I lean over and ask him what he said…)
Dad: I love you.
Karen: Oh Daddy! I love you, too!
(We arrive at Sisters Espresso and I order Dad a cocoa and a sandwich. I hand him his breakfast and we get back on the road.)

There are no volcanoes visible today, but I figure Dad will just like cruising through the countryside for a while. As I’m driving along Field Road I spot some waves of snow geese taking off and landing – it looks like they might be off Sunset Road – so I head that direction. Sure enough! Soon we come upon a lively flock of snow geese doing snow geese stuff. I pull over to the side of the road and roll down Dad’s window so he can hear them and watch them performing their flight maneuvers, and I grab my camera and take some photos. Then it’s back on the road again – heading for Dad’s home.

When we get to his home I wheel the wheelchair over to Dad – I’m going to try to get him in the chair without bothering Amanda – I know she’s having a busy morning. I have some trepidation about this, but Dad seems to understand what we need to do together, and I know I have a good partner in him. I hold out my hand to give him something to leverage himself on and he manages to turn himself in the seat a little. I gently grab one foot and help him lift it over the car’s side and onto the ground. I know it’s his other leg that gives him some trouble – so I am especially gentle as I help him lift the other foot over the side of the car. He winces and groans a little. I look up at him anxiously and touch his cheek with my hand. He holds my eyes with his and says, reassuringly, with quiet conviction, “I’m fine.” I know he doesn’t want me to feel bad. I have learned some tricks for lifting him up in the last few years and, together, we manage to get Dad standing and then sitting in the wheelchair. I feel inordinately proud of us.

I wheel him around the house to the ramp, tilt him back, and push him up the ramp and into the house. We settle down in front of the TV – I’m sitting on a chair behind Dad, rubbing his shoulders. He reaches up and grabs my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. When Amanda comes out to take Dad into the bathroom I know it is time for me to leave.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.

Standing on the Corner with the Peacenik People

Yesterday was such an awesome day! One of the cool things that happened was… I was walking through Mount Vernon, enjoying the trees changing color, heading for the co-op, and I saw John the Peace Man carrying his sign and walking towards me down the sidewalk! So I say hey to John – kind of remind him who I am and how we’ve met and etc. – and then I stop in at this place to talk about my flyers and while I’m in there – I remember! “Oh! It’s Friday! That’s why I saw John the Peace Man – he’s going to the Courthouse to stand there with his friends from noon to one and hold signs about peace and kindness! And I’ve rarely been able to do that – because I’ve always been teaching. But… I’m retired now!”

So. Yeah. I walked to the Courthouse and joined my peacenik friends with their signs – Jim opened his hatchback and pulled out a “GOOD WILL TO ALL” sign for me to hold. And it was so fun! People waving and honking and giving the thumbs up. I saw former colleagues – Stan came through in his car from one direction, waving and smiling, and Eric came through from the opposite direction and waved and mouthed “We miss you!” – that meant a lot to me.

I love my community.

How Elections Should Be

I was really hoping all the candidates would be there that night so I could finally meet them and make new friends and shake their hands. If I lost (the most likely scenario, in my mind) I’d graciously congratulate the winners and wish them luck in the general election, and then go home and begin my retirement. If I made it to the general election myself I’d … well, I didn’t actually have that scenario figured out in my mind. I mean – what were the odds, right?

There were four of us running for this position, but the only other candidate to arrive at the courthouse that night was Rich, the incumbent. I was so glad to see him! We shook hands and chatted for a bit – talked about where we’d learned we shouldn’t put signs (do not put signs along state highways, or in parks – they will be confiscated), and our campaigns – this was the first time Rich had actually had to run against other people, so it was all kind of new to him, too. Bill was there, too – Bill is an incumbent, running for another school board position (he was the only candidate for his position to show up). There were also some candidates there for a local mayor’s race, and positions on the hospital board, and their supporters and families were there to celebrate with them if they won, and bolster them up if things went the other direction. It was a wonderfully convivial atmosphere. That was the thing that struck me most about it – everyone was so friendly and cheery – even the folks who were running against each other. And it struck me that this is how elections SHOULD be.

The position I was running for – school board director – is a non-partisan position, and the people on the school board have to work as a team to make decisions – no one person holds all the power and can make decisions by himself/herself. I think this is great. I got in a lovely conversation with a commissioner for the local port authority and we talked about that for a while- his position is non-partisan, also. He said he never endorses other people, and he never asks for endorsements, either, because he doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone or any party. His words really resonated with me. Right now our nation is so polarized between right and left, conservatives and liberals, that it was really refreshing to be able to talk to someone in a way that wasn’t divided between this thing and that thing.

When the votes were counted, Rich handily mowed all the rest of us down in the primary, but I managed to come in second and will be going on to the general election with him.

I had fun that night. I met some really wonderful people whose whole motivation for running seems to be to serve others. School board members and port commissioners don’t get paid for their work – it’s all voluntary – and I really enjoyed hobnobbing with other folks who have that service mentality.

Here are a couple pictures from that night…
(Photos by Scott Terrell.)