Monday, November 18, 2013

On becoming a good listener and adventures with soap cannons and the mighty hunter

Beginning in January 2011 and going through May of this year, we had monthly sessions with the Hospice Compassus grief counselor. We desperately needed the counseling we got from her. We decided to tell her in May that we probably did not need to see her any more, and then she told us she was retiring so she could take trip to China with a friend, but that we could always call her at home if we needed to. Because these were, after all, counseling sessions, there was plenty of back and forth dialogue between us; even so, I think I learned some valuable things from her about being a good listener: There is a time to speak and a time to shut up. Often when people tell us stuff, they really don’t want counseling or our advice, they just want to tell how they are feeling.

We share a fence line with a couple who drive a small car with a “in memory of” decal on the back window. I was able to get a good look at it recently because she happened to be at the YMCA at the same time I was. So I asked her about it, and she told me the sad tale of her niece’s death. As the story spilled out, I realized I should just let her talk about it and not try to share my own sad tale… not to say “I know how you feel…” or “something just as bad happened to us….”  And then later on in the week a friend wanted to have lunch and said she needed to vent. And vent she did...about her husband, her finances, her health, the direction her ministry is taking, various things. Once again, I was able to mostly keep my mouth shut and not to leap in with my own tales of frustration at my husband, or my health, or the other things that get on my nerves. I did not try to offer her advice.

I hope that I did both of these women some good by just listening and empathizing without trying to top their stories Sometimes knowing what to say is very hard, and sometimes not saying anything is even harder.

My husband is the official dishwasher, but on some days when he is stressed about things he hasn’t been able to get done and I am not so busy, I help him. The other night was one such night. He got a little carried away with the dish soap and the pan was full of suds. And it just happened as we stood side-by-side at the kitchen sink that he plunged the funnel he was cleaning rather quickly down into the soap, wide part first, resulting in soap suds flying out the small end. He paused for a second, and grinned at me.

I’ve got myself a soap cannon

That was all it took. Soap went flying everywhere, and we were laughing hysterically, and then I got the mop stick and dried the floor before one of us could fall and break something (ahem).

I guess I am having a “second childhood” moment, he laughed.

I guess he was. And I hope he never grows up.

Once upon a time we used a series of PVC pipes to channel water from the washing machine out onto the lawn to water the trees in the front yard. We did not have to do that this past summer because we had plenty of rain. The pipes are laying at the side of the house and have become an escape route for chipmunks fleeing from the cat and the dog.

Molly knows they go in there, and she has to investigate the pipe each time she is in the front yard. I am trying not to turn into the crazy dog lady...

but could not resist getting the camera.

It would be helpful if she would catch and kill the packrats that hang around here. She would love to get one, and has dismantled a few of their nests, but they have so far managed to elude her. Unfortunately, a little shrew wasn’t so lucky earlier in the week and became her latest victim.


Nancy said...

You helped by listening. To listen helps the person hear and solve sometimes their situations or need. You did great. Bubbles, lol! We should never lose the child in us. Cute dog. The head in pipe made me laugh.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Go Miss Molly...her hunting skills will improve!
Great point about being a listener, Thanks:)