Some perils and comforts of our home
In my vigilance to identify routine tasks that aggravate the repetitive strain injury in my arms and hands and prolong its healing, I have learned more about myself and the way I do things. I am a tosser, a shaker, and a catcher. That is, I toss the chickens, shake the laundry, and catch my sleeve on door knobs.
It all comes down to finding new ways to do things. The chickens require tossing if they are ever to leave their roosts. Tossing chickens is an arms-length transaction, unless you want a face full of feathers. One by one, I pick each six-pound bird up from the roost to which she clings from some hormonal imperative, extend my arms so her flapping wings don’t graze my face, and propel her from the henhouse into the light of day and the realm of tasty bugs.
But picking up four, six-pound chickens, and extending my arms and propelling said chickens, aggravates my neck muscles, which retaliate by frying the nerves in my arms and wrists. The chickens need to be tossed, and I see no alternative means of tossing them ergonomically, so I have decided to pass this job to my husband, whose daily requests to take it up I have denied, protesting that I can do it because I am big: a prevarication at best on both counts.
I have long been of the habit of giving everything that comes out of the dryer a snappy shake in order to liberate any hostage socks or other small articles secreted in its folds. This action is not healthy for RSI-burned wrists. I can — I really can — remember to spread the article out on the bed and smooth it with my hands, rather than administering the snappy shake. This is simply a matter of mind over habit.
I have no idea how I acquired the knack of catching my sleeves on door knobs. The last time I did this, the resulting lurch undid the effects of a physical therapy session and my follow-up exercise session. The only solution I can see, besides removing all the door knobs in our house, is to declare anything with large sleeves a hazmat. I have never heard of any cure for spatial dissonance.
As if to compensate me for these lurking threats and dangers, a fragrant patch of the most wonderful oregano this side of Provence grows on the upper terrace of our back yard. Our friend Shirley gave me a slip from her oregano, which she started from a slip from her mother’s oregano, at the time we moved into our house. The hardy herb has prospered, and shares the shade of an aging apple tree with an equally prolific patch of spearmint. My husband cut several stems of mint and oregano and dried them in the greenhouse. After he stripped the leaves from the stems, I pulverized the oregano in the coffee grinder.
Mint, basil, and oregano are all related, and all make excellent tea. Oregano makes the strongest brew, and it is almost as pleasant to drink as coffee. It is nothing like coffee of course, but it is strong and aromatic, and good, in a green way. It is reputed to have good effects on the digestion. Whatever sort of variety it is, our oregano has a very robust flavor. Often I use nothing but salt and oregano in a stirfry, and it tastes as pungently seasoned as it does with blackening spices. In addition to oregano and mint, we complement our stirfry with dinner-time harvests of cabbage, radishes, and zesty mustard greens.
In a dangerous world, it doesn’t get much better than free food and mustard.