March 21, 2010

what to do when disaster strikes (addendum to earlier post)

I posted these ideas earlier when I was still scrabbling around with the shock of my dad's death and my cancer diagnosis. I rather like my list and think it useful for people other than I.

People often ask how they can help in times of distress or disaster. Here are some answers.

Hand-addressed mail with real live postage stamps is always good,whether letters, postcards, mailart, or greeting cards. The very best thing about cards is that people send them, not that they choose a particular brand. (Yes, Jennifer, I'm talking to you.)

Candy is always welcome, because even if the Object of All the Attention can't eat it, somebody will. (I like the old fashioned virtually flavorless jelly beans; and I like Peeps, preferably yellow but I won't turn my nose up at other colors; and Milky Ways; and Turtles, and chocolate bunnies, and York peppermint patties, and Godiva if you're feeling flush. Or Hershey's bars.  Basically, I like candy, and any kinds I don't like I can feed to my compadre or visitors or mail to my mom.

Deviled eggs, ice cream, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, yellow cake with chocolate icing, and Waffle House waffles can brighten any day but unfortunately don't travel well.

Books are an excellent option; I read nonfiction and poetry and am especially fascinated with science, nature, and environmental writing.

You can never go wrong with pink tulips, yellow roses, an iris, or an orchid. (I mention the last because I'm re-reading the brilliant Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief.)

I could also use the odd can of Iams dog food in the lamb flavor, because that brand and flavor are rationed in stores (I never find more than a can or two at Feeders Supply, and K-Mart only had two cases this morning), and Koko is QUITE fond of it.

Towels. I don't know if this is true of the general population, but it's true for me and three of my closest relatives, which is general enough. There is a comfort that can't be duplicated elsewhere in a linen closet filled with brand-new towels. And not just bath towels.  Hand towels and finger-tip towels and washcloths and kitchen towels and those linen tea towels with the scenic designs that you can only find in Europe and the 1950s.  A well-ordered linen closet is the sign of a stable, happy home, and in the event of the chaos of death and/or disease, good order, stability, and happiness are sweet antidotes.

Pressed pennies.  Don't know how I forgot about them the first time around.

Fat quarters. People who go to fabric stores and quilt shops know what these are.  Bright, pretty, funny, polka dots, etc.chunks of fabric already cut.  They run $2 to $3 each and will tuck into a regular envelope, although you probably want to add a little tape.

 The power of things isn't in the things themselves. The power rests in the acknowledgment that none of us is alone in this wonderland.  Also, minds need distractions from their preoccupations. Finally, illness, any illness, and grief, most grief, is fundamentally boring in between the kicks in the head.  The arrival of something /anything brings forth interest, a topic for conversation, glee.

So have yourself a big time with someone you know who could use a little greeting, or kindness, or comfort.  Meanwhile, be well; and imagine me whirling through these next months in my bright, sparkling hats.

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