Knit A Square

Now that we are past the shortest day of the year, I finally need to post again about hope, opportunities, more daylight (well – it’s been super soggy in Oregon, but July 5th is right around the corner!!🙂

Watch this video and join me if you so desire. I crochet – don’t knit – but here’s to something awesome!! I would adopt every child if I was there where this video was shot.



After 9 days of kidney stones and a bad fall onto a concrete sidewalk, and all this by myself – and after today’s challenges – sometimes life just becomes too much. I’m not one for wanting the spotlight; some people love it.

But after venting and crying and getting it out – things are much better.

Ahhh. Alrighty then. Let’s try this again. Life – at ease, soldier!

How to help someone who is having a super bad day

For lack of a better identifier, I will lump any big upset or transition into a SPD – a super bad day. This may be a new diagnosis, a recent break up, pain or illness, a car accident etc. Our trained inclination is to say 2 or 3 standard phrases. “Are you ok? Let me know if there is something I can do for you. I had the same thing happen a while back”. Please – as kindly as that is intended, don’t ever say those things.

In milder cases, the person doesn’t need you to DO anything. They need your reassurance!! Phrases such as, “I’m thinking of you. I love you. I care about you. I will be here with you through this. Do you want to tell me what happened?”, goes a million miles towards truly supporting the person. By definition, the person is not “ok”.

For more intense situations, especially if the person is sobbing heavily and/or hard to understand – ask specific questions such as, “Are you in danger? Are you in a lot of pain? Are you bleeding? Do you just need someone to listen right now?”. They will let you know. If they seem confused or don’t know what they need – see the next paragraph.

Let’s talk about SHOCK, FEAR AND PAIN. People become disoriented and often cannot make decisions. They may need some guidance. “Do you need me to drive you to the ER? Is your car out of the road?”. Concrete questions are good.

Know that everyone handles shock, fear and pain differently. Some people become stoic. Some joke. Some are very confused. Some lash out. Their response is NOT ABOUT YOU!!!! It is about them and their descent into an altered state that is scary and confusing.

Do not take it personally if the person rejects your help. When they are more settled, offer concrete things. “I’m happy to sit with you. I can bring you some groceries. I can wait with you for the tow truck”. MOST often, people need reassurance and company.

Lastly, as tempting as it is to find common ground – and I’ve been guilty of this even knowing better by having been on the other side – do NOT bring up your situation. The person with the SPD can barely keep it together themselves. It really doesn’t help, in the crisis moment, to hear you went through the same thing. Maybe down the road they might want to hear about your accident, miscarriage, chemo etc. Now is NOT the time.

And above all – even if you stumble all over yourself and say every wrong thing in the book – presence by a genuinely caring person beats isolation ANY day of the week. So many people have disappeared during my worst times because they didn’t know what to say or they didn’t want to remind me, for example, that my brother was gone. Just “I care” solves all that. No clever words needed. And trust me – no one forgets that they’ve lost a loved one, or that they have cancer, or that they are suddenly single. It is ALL consuming at times.

Remember the Golden Rule and you can’t go wrong.

Provisions for my Super Bad Week!!!

Provisions for my Super Bad Week!!!

Cat Scanned

Got my “cat scanned”  (CT scan) just a while ago. It’s a mixed blessing when one of the techs in the hospital imaging dept. recognized me from all my trips to see him in the past.

One of the male techs (I had 3 of them) asked if I was wearing an underwire bra. It interferes with the imaging and frankly, so many things in life. “Not any more”, as I took it off with my shirt still on and flung it aside. Don’t expect modesty and proper protocol from a former massage school student.🙂

Now I wait. If I have to do this alone, at least it’s not the “scream your head off and hope to keel over” kind of pain. But those kind tend to move faster. Mine is more “let’s keep poking you and making you feel nauseous as we enjoy this slow drive through the countryside”. Whee.

Addendum: Scan came back clear although the report talked about my right flank (thanks for making me sound like a race horse🙂 even though the stone(s) were on the LEFT side. Right, left, what’s the difference? As I started feeling crazy for having made all this up, the doc assured me there was a positive “dip test” that I could not have faked. And Houston – we have “gravel”. The last time I had this kind of pain, I got a 9 lb baby out of it.🙂

Hopefully, all this is over and I can get on with life.

Breakfast of Champions

For breakfast, I had chocolate, coffee and my prostate medication.


I’m about a week into a possible kidney stone, and keeping my prostate happy is part of the medical regimen. Before juicy rumors start, it’s standard protocol to help a person visit the restroom more often. Well, drinking water usually works, but hey – whatever helps.

The pain alternates from “I must be making this up” to “Find me my friggin vicodin right NOW”. Funny I should put that in quotes because there is no one to utter such lovely things to. Teresa was here for a few days (and so helpful – it’s wonderful what just having company does for a person). Pete is out of the country. I think his leaving the country is like trailer parks causing tornadoes.🙂

So I wait – and I drink water – and I eat crap because I feel like crap. I’m in a holding pattern waiting for the CT scan to get approved. The CT is waiting for a CT scan. My terpy friends will understand that.

Have a groovy day y’all.

Love, The Kidney Stoner

(This too shall pass – ar ar ar)

Play Dough Pallooza

Auspicious beginnings. Making play dough for 20+ kids and 15+ adults

Auspicious beginnings. Making play dough for 20+ kids and 15+ adults for today’s volunteer gig

After a few hours. Let's just step it up and double batch the double batches

After a few hours. Let’s just step it up and double batch the double batches

Food color! Taste the rainbow.

Food color! Taste the rainbow.

Become one with the rainbow!

Become one with the rainbow!

Making play dough is a good metaphor for life. What looks like a sticky mess...

Making play dough is a good metaphor for life. What looks like a sticky mess…

...becomes this!

…becomes this!

Play dough requires MUCH salt. After going through 2.5 store bought containers, I resorted to the double secret Hawaiian rock salt

Play dough requires MUCH salt. After going through 2.5 store bought containers, I resorted to the double secret Hawaiian rock salt

25 pounds of homemade play dough and a

25 pounds of homemade play dough and a “perspective pig” salt shaker. Lunch is served!!

Today, I am volunteering again with the “Get Artsy with Multi Cultural Kids” program under the auspices of “Hands On Greater Portland” volunteer organization. They, Hands On, offer long term as well as one time volunteer opportunities. Last week, I waltzed in to the Get Artsy program for the first time. This week, I am leading the activity. With my background in Special Ed and All Things Children and Crafts (my title, not an official group), this is a perfect match. Hope everyone today has fun. I am excited!!!!

Hoof IN Mouth Disease

I had the good fortune today of volunteering to do crafts projects with the children of refugee families. Anyone who knows me, knows I am very outgoing and will chat it up with anyone. (Can you already smell the faux pas on the horizon?).

Amongst those of us who were volunteering was a class of adult English language learners. I have always dreamed of being a TESOL teacher because 1) my parents are non native English speakers 2) I have flubbed *mightily* in other languages and 3) I really like to encourage people.

So I took under my wing, so to speak, the gal who could barely speak more than 10 English words. All the other volunteers – some native speakers, a few that were not – spread out amongst the various tables. As we waited for the kids to arrive and for our crafts projects to begin, I really wanted to make a connection with the gal who was so clearly terrified.

Geez, where was all that French I had had in HS? I couldn’t fall back on ASL or gesturing. German didn’t work. “La vasche qui rit” was right out. So somewhere along the line, I wanted to let her know that I’m a first generation American, and I understand going between cultures and languages etc. “Mon mere et mon pere…English…gesture the number 2…language”. Deer in the headlight. Probably thinking, “Why are you flashing a peace sign at me and why is your mom of the masculine persuasion?”, which didn’t dawn on me till later.

Fast forward to the group gathered at our table –  terrified French volunteer gal; young boy whom I asked if he preferred to talk or liked quiet, since I was babbling away, stated that he liked quiet; a local native speaker volunteer who was trying all his slaughtered French phrases and trying to discuss theatre and playwrights with terrified French gal; chatty and sweet boy of local origins and THEN – a young boy, of African or Caribbean descent – who joined us. Whom I was told did not speak English. Whom I was told was visiting for the summer and didn’t live in the community like the rest of these kids.

I gestured to him and assisted him with his project. And then it dawned on me – wait – maybe he is from a location where they speak French. I already connected the volunteer at my table with the group leader of this whole shindig who just happened to be from Switzerland. They had a nice chat in French and I was quit happy to not understand a thing – or very little. So I said, “Français?” to the volunteer and the boy who spoke no English to see if they could connect. No good. It just didn’t work. Figured he was just shy.

BUT THEN, after about 10 minutes of trying to make connections amongst my fellow crafters – the little guy responded to some input. He had said things earlier but so quietly I didn’t catch it. WAIT – what? You speak English while I’m gesturing and getting French gal to chat it up with you? Consider me punked :) His English was just fine.

Today’s volunteer gig was SO much fun, even if it did stretch all my resourcefulness on trying to communicate amongst various people of such diverse backgrounds. Once a terp mindset, always a terp mindset. And I don’t mind being silly or creative – and failing miserably in the process – in building bridges. In the end, creating a project together and wanting to spend time together requires no language other than a heart connection. And THAT we did. Viva La Fun!