Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reflections on My Broken Arm


After seven long weeks of being in a cast for my broken arm, the doctors finally gave me the go-ahead to remove my cast.

This has been an interesting time.  It is my first broken arm, which occurred while I was cleaning the baby goats’ stall at Windshadow Farm.  If I had landed in the compost, I probably would have broken my fall instead of my arm.  Alas, the concrete floor was too much for my left hand to bear all my weight and the radius in my arm cracked.  Fortunately, the break did not ruin the bone’s alignment and it healed fairly well, fairly quickly, and without complications.

I learned to write with my right hand and became pretty good at it, too.  Writing on the blackboard at school worked out pretty well, too.  It was big and bold and students could read it!  I was even able to make comments on students’ papers, although they were more laconic than usual and my work on the papers went a lot more slowly.

I tried to derive some meaning from my handicap.  As a writer, I was not able to take notes so that meant my work with the Gazette was on hold.  However, I soon learned how to write journal entries by using the middle finger of my left hand and all the fingers of my right hand.  One time I took notes over the phone for a story in this way and was amazed at my proficiency.  It just goes to show that the human body adapts to its circumstances pretty quickly and efficiently.

I read more books, a decided upside, but watched more TV (i.e., Netflix films and documentaries), more of a downside because of time wasted.  I became intrigued for some odd reason, with the marriage of William and Kate and that then led me to explore further the British monarchy.  I watched “The Tudors” on Netflix, which later led me to a re-visiting of “Man for All Seasons,” “Queen,” “Elizabeth R” and others.  Then I found the series “Commander in Chief” starring Geena Davis as POTUS.

What I realized from these many weeks without the ability to write is that my life had a big hole in it.  Although writing is often a painful thing for me to do, it indeed is something I have to do because it sustains me, satisfies my curiosity, and gives me that ever-loving byline.  This summer I am looking forward to getting myself into a writing routine—along with a much-needed exercise routine. 

Exercise – !@#$%^&* Hmmmmm.  I had planned to ride my bike to school and around town beginning this spring but that was not possible without the strength of my left arm.  I had lost my zest for swimming around January and walking in colder weather had no appeal.  Of course, I could not do any yoga either.  So over these past six months I have gotten practically no exercise—and I feel it.  And my body feels it and looks like it! 

Spending much time on the farm was out, too, although I did help out Ron a little bit, which he needed since he not only had broken his hand on the same day I broke my arm, but he had hernia surgery and was restricted from doing a lot of the heavy lifting.  His wife, Soo, and his neighbors pitched in to help him.  In the midst of all these injuries was the USDA’s approval process for Grade A status of the dairy, the growth of this year’s kids, milking the goats, and making decisions about culling the herd.  The water buffalo will soon give birth to their offspring.  And, of course, cleaning the barn is a daily task.

This Memorial Day weekend marks the end of school (almost) and the beginning of summer.  My plan is to get back to full-time writing, more vigorous exercise (walking, biking and swimming) and indulge myself in gardening and farming—about two days a week.  I have numerous articles coming up for July 1— including a story on the spirituality of urban gardens for U.S. Catholic, the 40th anniversary of Lake Village Farm for the Gazette, an article on Ultimate Frisbee for Lux Esto (Kalamazoo College’s alumni magazine) and two book reviews—one for America magazine and the other for Energy Bulletin.  All of this will certainly keep me busy.  Most of these articles were requested by the editors, which is really gratifying because it means they like what I do.

One other project I want to get started is to put my essays into book form and make them available through the Internet.  I also need a new website and fortunately, ace graphic artist, Keith Jones, will help me do that. 

I don’t think I’ll do much traveling this summer or my trips will be short and not very exotic.  Anita, my next door neighbor, and I will go to a Cubs game in early June.  Kurt and I will make our annual Stratford trip, most probably in September.  I’ll take a train ride to the East to see my nephew, Kevin, and maybe a couple of former students in Connecticut and New York City.

In October I go to New Orleans with the McClurkans.  This will be my third visit in two years!  It will give me an opportunity not only to see this wonderful city again but to investigate what the churches are doing with post-Katrina recovery.  I plan to include this other angle with my research on urban planning and food security for I book I’m writing. 

So this “layover” from writing has given me many ideas for more work.  Now it’s time to get to work!

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