A HAND ON THE BIRD IS NOT A STEW IN THE POT

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Hand
Open your hands and count the lines –
blue and gray but not confederated
signs of wrinkled times when under
baking suns they held a tool of labor.
Slicing crosswise, blue and glistening
another deeper mark, but is it work –
Nobody tells of when we fall and cry
and dangle out our trophy to be held
in secret. One is bled and led to safety
sure to be a bold, oft-told heroic tale.
And deeper blues are channeled hearts
in round-a-bouts and starts and stops,
but life, and just below the skin, a flow.
You do not know what hands will do
& they do not. But there in fact are you
and all the doing you have ever done.
– Charles Brady

Well, it is April 17th, and the rest of our music group is coming on the 22d to get in some rare practice. I take the blame, although there were a couple of other reasons we missed some work.. A few minutes ago I tried and managed some pressure on the strings with the reluctant fingers of my left hand. Those fingers and the entire body is rusty and completely out of the habit of making music, good or bad.

Review: Back in mid-December, I fell and did a number on my left wrist big-time! The accident “fell” right in the middle of my hospital’s and medical staff’s preparation for reduced manning and activities over Christmas.

It happened on Saturday (of course) but the emergency room people took care of the immediate problems – although they could not fix my black and blue face – and put on a hundred pound cast to get even for my taking up their time.

On Monday, I met the surgeon and we (he) planned out a program, saying I would probably require surgery but certainly not over Christmas. So on went the new, more professional and heavier, cast which lasted until the Surgeon and I looked at the x-rays again and knew surgery was necessary. Meanwhile, a month had gone by with me and my frozen in place arm and hand. Another week in a new cast after surgery resulted in my entire arm, hand and fingers being frozen in place.

For much of the past three plus months, Lee has been tying my shoes, opening cans and jars, and lifting those 24 bottle cases of water from Trader Joe’s into and out of the car. She also endured my infant status with a little bit of humor and a lot of compassion.

The rest of our Sonoma Band came by a few weeks ago for a long delayed get-together, but my fingers were still complete strangers, The others allowed me to take part in the singing – my usual parts – and allowed how I was OK. They were their usual competent selves, providing a great afternoon of music.. It seemed a little unfair, since they had their usual perfect left hands and fingers all along.

You may remember that I mentioned of having fallen down back in December and breaking both bones in my left wrist. I didn’t tell that one of the bones was a jittery mess and both required surgery and implanting little plates for both breaks.

When the surgeon informed me that I really needed his intervention, he hesitatingly asked me what I “did” and how I used my hands. When I told him I was a writer and tried to pick at the banjo, he shrugged his sorrowful shoulders and said something like…..well, maybe…we shall see.

At that moment, my wrist had already been in a cast for four weeks over Christmas, but on a Friday afternoon, they deadened my entire left arm, put a curtain between me and the cutters and opened up the arm in two long places, secured the plates with tiny screws, put on another, shorter cast, and sent me home.

We look forward to all get-togethers, either at our house or in Sonoma since our Band is more family than band… although we are proud of our choices of songs and our progress over the time we have been playing together. Our gatherings are filled with exchanges of family information – Charles and Maureen are first-time grand parents! And Lee and I are again Great-Grand parents. Last year, we all shared in the good news when John’s home in Glen Ellen was miraculously spared. We got lucky when John and Linda joined us. He brings his soulful Mandolin every time, and can pick just about anything with strings. He also might be described as having a devastating sense of humor!
Charles, a magician with his guitars, and I were teaching at the same school and seeing each other every day. When I was trying to learn a little banjo, he and I got together and he taught me the rudiments. Maureen, who played piano and accordion, decided on the fiddle and went out and bought one!

The last member, Anita, is a music teacher with many years of experience teaching the younger ones. When our group was tying to find practice space at school, she made her classroom available. I got a kick out of her arriving second graders who were always so enthusiastic, yelling out, “BANJO DAY” each time they arrived to find us in their teacher’s classroom! We knew of her guitar skills through that experience, and when we managed to grab her, we discovered she had this beautiful, clear voice, so suited to every tune we considered.

Finally, after a week, they took off the cast, took out the stitches, put on a Velcro Brace and told me to see a hand therapist.

The first day with the therapist (late January) was a surprise to me because, although I could clearly see my wrist, thumb and fingers, I could not move them enough to register. I could not bend my wrist left or right, nor could I rotate my left forearm even a half-inch!

None of this surprised the Therapist who jammed my hand in warm wax, heated it for ten minutes and started forcefully to bend everything a tiny bit….with me trying not to wince or cry out. After a few visits, and with my following their advice for at-home exercise, there has been agonizingly slow progress.

Today, I have about 70 percent of essential movement. My fingertips still won’t curl that last fraction, but I can, with effort, hold the strings on the fret. When I try, my “music” is more like stripping adhesive, , but I know that, on Monday the 22nd, our friends, our cohorts, will be kind and tell me different. I promised John I would try, but am not going out on a limb by telling the others.

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