Thursday, December 30

christmas is back

Little Gen asked five-year-old Eli what kind of tree his Christmas tree was, to which, after some pause, he replied, “A pathetic one.”

Before you jump to the conclusion that Eli is a prematurely disillusioned, overly melancholic, Charlie Brownish type, you should know that he was merely expressing an aforementioned adult pronouncement on a tree that was not holding its ornaments in proper perkiness.

But that’s kind of how I feel about Christmas since becoming an adult. In comparison to waking up Christmas morn in anticipation only a child’s imagination can create, the practicality of adult celebration lacks the magic I used to enjoy. It's kind of pathetic. Once my very favorite holiday merely for the feel, hard as I try to muster genuine appreciation, Christmas seems lacking in its former luster.

And then this happened.

I came home to find this little knitted number along with two other sets hanging on the door nob. At first confusion ensued as we tried to identify our secret santa. Mom was confused that one set only had one mitt until she remembered that one of her daughters only has one hand. But unbound excitement followed with the discovery of a matching miniature, custom designed for a tiny hand. Tucked inside was a post-it note designating it to Finneas. I was so delighted, I almost forgot I was a grownup.

So, kudos to my cousin Danielle, who knitted my first ever custom fit mittens, without even taking measurements. Thanks to her consideration, Finneas is much warmer, and I am filled with genuine glee.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 23

a small following

I’ve said that sometimes I scare babies. I make them cry. I send them running away from me, calling for their mommies.

But I don’t scare all babies.

There is a magical age somewhere after awareness and beyond fear, when curiosity wins out, and children become magnetically drawn to me; they can’t help themselves. And I’ve gained a small following; that is, the under-three-foot crowd.

I visited one such small fan yesterday at my childhood friend Nichole's home. The last time I saw this little darling, she was a little muppet barely able to walk. She’s closing in on three now, but not much taller than my knee.

After she finishes hiding behind the window curtains of shyness, she notices one of my arms is not ordinary.

“She loves anything tiny,” her dad explains. And she does. At first she just stares from a distance. Then she comes closer. Then closer. Until she works up the courage to reach out and shake my little hand. And it's all over. She touches it, she kisses it, she wants to hold it. I suddenly feel that the rest of my body is sorely inconvenient to her.

At the lunch table, she sits next to me in her booster seat. She hands me a lime.

“No, it’s for her,” she indicates, pointing to my smaller appendage. Even this two-year-old understands that my arm has its own personality.

“This is Finneas,” I hear myself saying. “Finneas!?,” she squeals, incredulous and delighted.

Children often want to know why my arm is smaller than the average. But this little one never asks. A person with a tiny hand came to her house today; and she’s simply in love.

“Isn’t it cool,” I say. She nods, eyes twinkling. This is the age when belief comes easily, untarnished by judgement.

“What if we all had one little hand?,” I pursue, "Wouldn't that be cool?". She nods enthusiastically. And her big brother, entering the outer edge of the magical age at six, is now drawn in. He pulls one arm into his sleeve to test the hypothetical. We discuss how tables might be higher, or forks much longer, if this were the case.

As the afternoon progresses, my small follower is distracted with play and various craft projects. But periodically she looks up, catches a glimpse of Finneas beneath my sleeve, runs over, and reaches up to grab hold of him. When I’m standing, she has to stretch her arm to its full extension.

I confess to waving my little arm at her from time to time, bribing her interest, luring her close enough to scoop her tiny body up in my arms. I miss the days when she needed me to carry her.

Sitting next to me, she leans over, pulls Finneas gently to her, and plants a soft kiss on his skin. I feel undeserving, part of a moment nothing short of holy.

This little girl isn’t the first; I remember another two-year-old from long ago. Danielle was Nichole’s foster sister when we, too, were children.

She came to live with Nichole and her parents when she needed a safe place to be; but as far as we were concerned, she was our sister. She called me ‘Tawkie,' a reinvention of my name in toddler speak. She, too, had stars in her eyes when she saw my little arm.

One day, hands joined around the table, Danielle says, “I sure I tan have a little hand, too"; an impossible wish, but the sincerest form of flattery.

I expect I’ll continue to draw fans. And as long as they follow me, I’ll continue to welcome their attention, treasure their admiration, and affirm their innocent openness.

What if we all had one little hand?


Thursday, December 16

coffee, slippers, and amputee cookies

I'm home for another 'last' Christmas with my immediate family. In fact, we've had so many 'last' Christmases without anyone joining or leaving the family, I don't think anyone is even calling it that this year. It would be more accurately called Mom-and-Dad-are-paying-for-us-to-fly-home Christmas, so here we are. And truthfully, I'm enjoying feeling like a kid again.

I expected it to be cold, and I've not been disappointed, but low 30s for a high is pushing it. I don’t understand how people live in a place where it gets so cold it becomes physically painful to go outside. I’m convinced going from the house to the car, ice begins to form on my femurs. If I had to be here year-round, I’d seriously look into hibernation or migration. For the time being, I go to the mall for pink moccasins; and I won’t leave my bedroom without them. I am currently calculating how I might avoid leaving the house for the remainder of my stay.

I’m looking forward to the arrival of my sisters just for the extra body heat. I am curious, though, to see how all five of us will fit into the living Christmas museum that is my mom’s house. It is beautiful, really; wood floors and glowing lights, old ticking clocks through the night, antique furniture, all spotless and dreamy…aside from the periodic smokeout in the kitchen from my various attempts to make bacon, unsuccessfully. I was hoping to prove to my parents that I'm truly an adult now and I've set off the fire alarm at least three times.

And that’s only the pinnacle of a tower of grievances including my unruly bedroom piling of clothes and notebooks, wrongful use of kitchen implements, forgetting to turn the heat off, on, or some in-between setting which I am clearly unqualified to operate. I feel like the bull just entered the china closet, wreaking havoc everywhere I go, with my mother following close behind suggesting and directing the cleanup detail.

I understand why this is happening. My mom wants the house lovely and welcoming for each girl that arrives, but our staggered appearing is creating somewhat of a logistical dilemma. On the phone last night, I’d ignorantly sat down on the couch facing away from the small self-lit plastic Christmas tree, when Mom approached, signing urgently in what I can only assume is not an ASL-approved dialect. I finally ascertained that she wanted me to move to the other couch so that I would have a better view of the tree.

I have a feeling this is the dress rehearsal, and I still don’t know my blocking.

But primary on my list of logistical dilemmas is locating and acquiring good coffee. On the phone with my mom a few days before leaving, I ask, “Do you have coffee at the house?”

“Yeah, I think there's some left from the last time you were here," she says from the supermarket aisle.

I feel a little panicky. "No, that's too old. Can you get something else?"

"What kind of coffee do you want?”

“Anything is fine, just nothing cheap…and preferably a medium roast.”

“This one says ‘Classic Roast’…is that what you want?”

Turns out the ‘Classic Roast’ tastes something like a fair trade organic Folgers and I’ve been begging stops at various coffee establishments since I arrived. At Borders the other night, I choose a gingerbread latte.

“We’re out of whipped cream, but I’ll put extra foam and a gingerbread man on top,” the barista says.

“Sweet,” I agree, not having expected whipped cream in the first place and impressed with her seasonal artistic ability. But when I get my coffee, there’s more of a chalk drawing the shape of a gingerbread man around a darkish spot on top of the foam. Apparently, this is where an actual gingerbread cookie had been, before he dove suicidally down into the cup. He was now residing somewhere in the murky darkness of my latte.

“Yeah, you’re gonna want to get that out of there or you’ll just be drinking out pieces," warns a guy sitting next to us.

Aided by stirring sticks, Mom fishes the cookie’s disintegrating corpse up from the deep. Unfortunately, we are too late, and upon reaching the surface, his appendages loosen, and we lose an arm.

But I’ve put that traumatic episode behind me, and I woke up today with new resolve to venture out once more for coffee. This time, I took no chances, and had Mom drop me off directly at the local coffee joint for Starbucks boycotters down the road. And here I am. I’ve just finished the most amazing whole milk pumpkin latte and I plan to get a good breakfast blend to go for the morning.


During my layover in the Denver airport, I spotted something interesting. It was a very small long-haired white dog with a service vest on. I can’t let this opportunity pass, and I make friends. ‘Fluffy’ is as friendly as he is cute, putting his miniature paws up to my palm.

“What is his service?,” I ask.

“He’s an alert dog,” his equally friendly wheelchair-sitting owner tells me. I assume this means the little dog can smell a heart attack or seizure coming on, but later she explains how alert she is to intruders or strange noises in the house. I refrain from saying I think that's called a guard dog; and I might add, most people choose guard dogs that don't tempt an intruder to punt kick them into the next yard. I don't want to hurt Fluffy's feelings.

Fluffy and owner are on their way to Detroit from Los Angeles. Considering the wheelchair, I hope Fluffy is also a sled dog.

I think I’ll get a service dog; his service will be locating the closest Starbucks.


May all your gingerbread men remain intact.



Wednesday, December 8

other things

I'm intrigued by the search key words that are bringing internet surfers to my blog..."born with one arm," "one-armed woman," "one arm lady," "vaulting practice barrel," "sex in tattoos,"...and my personal favorite, "personal stories on convincing people not to get a tattoo." Well, I guess that answers that question.

I'm slightly alarmed because a) No matter what words I type into a search engine, I can never find my own blog, and b) Someone found my site with "sex in tattoos." So, lest you think my life is all sex, tattoos, and gory horror films, I present some other things appearing regularly in my world...

My little red Mazda is my silent partner, taking me to horses and groceries (both essential to my well being) and anything else that comes up in between. This is how a one-armed girl puts window washing fluid into her car...pop hood, lift hood, prop hood on head while securing the prop. Then proceed as normal.

I love to drive. I got my license when I was fifteen and I still thrill to the privilege. Early on, someone suggested I get a knob on the steering wheel like truck drivers use to make turns easier. I didn't get one then because I was too proud, and I don't have one now because, ironically, I'm too lazy...and still a little proud. My friends can attest to my routine use of my left knee on the wheel; and most of them are amazingly self-controlled, if a bit stiff, when we're careening around a turn with only my knee on the wheel


I spend a good portion of my life in my living room, especially now that it's too cold to be in the bedrooms, except for brief ventures of necessity, like getting underwear. I proposed that Little Gen and I move our beds into the living room for winter. "It will be like camping in the Third World," I encouraged. But Little Gen was not convinced.

Sometimes I just walk around on the wood floors feeling happy. Wood floors have that affect on me; I feel grounded, which seems somewhat ironic considering wood comes from trees. I also like trees, as I've mentioned before. One day, I brought a neglected palm tree home from the closest home and garden store. Apparently, it didn't like fluorescent light. I named him Moses, and he's been a fixture in our living room ever since.


Khublai Khan is my neighbor's cat. Every morning like clockwork, Pat calls her inside for breakfast..."Kublai, foodie, foodie." Still buried under my down covers, waiting for the day to begin, I smile
at the announcement of morning and assurance of things I depend on...I know it's safe to get out of bed.

Kublai is frequently seen about sunning herself on the wall outside our kitchen window or jumping up on our outside living room windowsill,
causing me to jump and involuntarily throw whatever undeserving book I was holding. Flattening her white fur against the glass, she peers inside as if she's just as surprised to see me. Why she is named after a 13th Century Mongol Emperor is still unclear.


Last winter, I spent a lot of time indoors. One day, I made an apple pie. It was really good, so I made another one. And that was the beginning of Winter of the Apple Pie, in which I made, on average, an apple pie every two weeks. This phase bore a striking resemblance to the Semester of the Apple I had in college, though one can only surmise that my cravings are becoming more complex. It was an odd choice for me, not feeling a dearth of patriotism in my life, because I don't even like apple pie (or didn't). The key ingredient was lemon juice, I believe. And the secret is how a one-armed girl cuts and peels six to seven apples into small slices. I'll never tell.


This is Desmond. He belongs to my friends Kristen and Ariel, but I was with them when they brought him home as a wee pup. Actually, he wasn't so wee; his breeders had nicknamed him 'Large' and he made cute congested noises when he slept. He's gotten a lot larger and healthier, but he still has the most adorable snore. I have never loved a Dachshund before, and I'm fairly sure there won't be another that will capture my heart like Desmond has...

His only current rival might be a beautiful silver Lab Weimaraner. Dakota lives at the farm and he believes he's a lap dog. His affection is obnoxious and endearing, causing me to hate my own addiction to him. He is no help around the farm as far as I can tell, unless you call the periodic killing of a guinea helpful. When I'm trying to wrangle a herd of pygmy goats from the pasture to the barn, Dakota sits curiously, watching me from the porch. He's given me ample evidence for the benefits of a herder over a hunter on a farm.

But when I come in the drive, Dakota comes trotting over to greet me. He bows his head into my chest while I kiss his lambskin-soft ears, effectively erasing all memory I have of his less lovable qualities.


So, it would appear that my life revolves apartment, plants, and animals. Hmmm...looks like I'm well on my way to cat lady.

If you stumbled on this blog while looking for sex and tattoos, my sincerest apologies.


This post brought to you one day early due to tomorrow's concurrence of Thursday and travel for the OneArmGirl.

Thursday, December 2


I have, over the last couple of years, developed a disturbing interest in tattoos.

I’m not sure where it began, with my surprising affection for Biker Mike’s single original tattoo, the meaning of which I’ve forgotten, on his left bicep; with the realization of my hapless addiction to ACDC, though their lyric material seems limited entirely to sex; or with the evolution of my alter ego as a rocker bike chick. Heretofore, I cringed whenever I heard the word ‘chick’ used in reference to female persons; and I still refuse to use that title unless it is connected to biker.

Meanwhile, I’ve become a tattoo groupie. I'm that girl who asks about and studies a tattoo when I see it; I want to know what it is, what it means, and why it’s there. I’m intrigued by my friend Beto’s forearm pinups. The ladies smile at me from a history of gang membership and rockabilly style. Beto quit the gang a while back, but not the rockabilly; now he works at a local restaurant, always ready for me with a bear hug.

“I found out people like you better when you’re nice to them,” he says smiling and bussing ta
bles with the same fifties pompadour he’s had for over twenty years.


I watch the entire first season of LA Ink. The show features both newbies who've never seen a needle and old timers trying to find a patch of un-marked skin to cover. I’m intrigued by the stories, a strange sampling of superficiality and life-altering benchmarks. And then there was the guy who wanted R.I.P over a slice of cheese tattooed on his arm, marking his diagnosis of lactose intolerance and the beginning of a cheese-less future.

But my interest started moving into obsession when I read Skin Deep: Tattoos, The Disappearing West, Very Bad Men, And My Deep Love For Them All by Karol Griffin. Griffin writes about her own life in Wyoming, learning to tattoo, and dating the clientele. An eager student, I devour the book like a manual of tattoo culture, unencumbered by the obvious side effects of dating ex-cons and drug addicts. And I'm won over by the specific skill of tattooing: an artist's trade. Griffin argues that the true canvass for tattoos wants more than a memory made permanent, but for the tattoos to exist for their own sake. Art for art’s sake.


“When did you get your first tattoo,” I
ask Ryan while I wait for him to scan my groceries. He appears to be working on sleeves on both arms. He says he's getting another tattoo after work.

“Do you have any art,” he asks.

“Uh, no.”

“Do you want to get a tattoo?”

“Probably not...I think, I just like skin too much.”

“That's different. I’ve never heard that before. So you probably hate these,” he indicates his own ink.

“No, I mean, I like them on you,” I stammer pathetically before he turns to the next customer.

But I do. I’m attracted to the bad ass image of a well-placed tattoo, particularly on a shapely bicep. And I think Kat Von D is gorge
ous in all her ink. But me?

My new obsession is disturbing considering my revulsion to the mere idea of my cousin Derek getting a tattoo when we were teenagers. To my adolescent mind, this was nothing less than an insult to his character and an affront to our family values.

As I got older, there were other reason
s. I knew my friend Rebecca and I were soul sisters when we confessed to one another over coffee one morning, that we didn’t want tattoos because they were too mainstream. In fact, we were prone to specifically avoiding anything if everyone was doing it. Apparently the cliff-jumping hypothetical was never necessary in our rearing. But I’m sure when the uprising of skin purists begins, we’ll be at the forefront.

And so I am red-faced to admit that I actually considered gett
ing a tattoo on my own body this year...embarrassingly past the age of running off to the tattoo parlor on spring break to get the initials of your best friends in some medieval font on your lower back. But then, I never partook in that sort of revelry, so I never really had the opportunity.

But I’ve had some time to mull it over, an
d one afternoon, I have a vision. I tell Ryan the next time I see him. “So, I decided what I would get if I got a tattoo....a big gnarly tree, on my back, with the twisted trunk curved with my spine.” It would symbolize peace-making with deformity, and a newfound pride, drawing attention to that part of my body that I’d always wanted to hide. Plus I have a thing for trees. If anything could be, it was perfect. Or maybe a warrior princess atop a unicorn fighting a dragon. I know one five-year-old who would be impressed.

Rebecca was confused, but supportive, offering to take me on a field trip to a local parlor. And the inspiration stayed strong for nearly a week. Then I started thinking about what a big step that is, how I have plenty of time to think it over...asking myself if I’m really that into it. I fully endorse rebellion against social norms for the sake of promoting free-thinking; but I’ve never really liked rebellion worn on the sleeve myself. Maybe I’m more of a tattoo voyeur; appreciating but not partaking, a wannabe who doesn’t really.

The last time I went through Ryan’s line, I asked if he’s gotten that tattoo. He hasn’t. “I don’t know,” he says, “I’m not sure I’m really that guy any more." I wonder when you're that far in, if you really have a choice; but that’s kind of how I feel, like I might not be that girl. A tattoo girl.


This morning I received an email from friend and film color artist (not his official title), Mikey Man. It contained this:

And this...

I’d call that disability gets revenge. I’m thrilled by the theory. I'm all for comedic coping, but do I really want a shark arm?


Wednesday, November 24


There are things one might ask a one-armed girl how she tie her shoe, or peel an orange, or put on underwear. And then there are things that no one thinks to ask, like how do you stand up on a trotting horse.

I’d certainly never thought to ask before a summer day, six years ago, when I met Rick Hawthorne. As I recal
l, the first thing Rick said when he saw me was “Oh, yeah!” when he recognized my one arm situation. Rick's left arm had been amputated at the shoulder when he was ten, after he punched a kid in the playground, breaking his arm in several places. The doctors found cancer and that’s when Rick began his life as a one-armed boy.

In his early twenties, Rick found vaulting, a sport that combines riding and dance on the back of a horse. It was the beginning of a life-long love story for Rick, who went on to compete with one arm at the national level. Today, he and his wife Virginia have been coaching vaulting for over thirty years.

But in all that time, Rick had
never met someone like me, with almost exactly the same handicap. The excitement was mutual. I hadn’t known him five minutes before I was up on a horse, learning the basic exercises. Buoyed by Rick’s belief in me, I would have tried nearly anything he asked. I went home sore and hooked.


On Saturday, I hurried Little Gen out of her warm bed to go to vaulting practice with me. The jury's out on whether my blueberry pancakes were extortion on her part, or bribery on mine. Either way, we were out the door by 9:30am.

I. Warm-up

Here is a series
of me 'vaulting up' on the practice barrel.

And the outtakes....


You do what on a horse?, is generally the look on a person's face when I try to explain vaulting. Most people immediately assume I'm talking about gymnastics or pole vaulting; or they combine the tw
o with a mental picture of me running up to a horse and jumping over the top of it. Ridiculous. But then, I'm not in much of a position to talk.

has been around as long as most anything, varying from artistic expression to military training, depending on the demands of the time. But it's modern form was developed in post-war Germany to improve general riding skill.

Much later, Joey coined 'horse ballet' when I started coming into work sore from head to toe, barely able to walk. Even later, my friend Ariel dubbed 'horsenastics.' Both accurate and clever, I say;
though a bit hard to pronounce without spitting on someone. And horsenastics leads to the obvious conclusion that an athlete in said sport is a 'horsenast,' which sounds like a bad head cold, but gives me endless giggles.

II. On the horse

I get on the actual horse. The person in the middle of the circle, directing the movement of the horse, is the longeur. She keeps the horse going while I do my acrobatics...or just sit there out of breath, trying to remember the next exercise.

The 'flag,' with one leg and one arm extended, is one of the compulsory exercises in vaulting; but it's always been my strongest move
. Here, the horse is going to the right on the circle, which makes it even more challenging because I have to raise a leg on the same side where I don't have an arm. No big deal.

The nice
thing about being a one-armed girl is that if you can do anything on the back of a moving horse, you have everyone's attention, and are automatically amazing. And on a good day, you have your photographer sister along to capture this...

The 'stand', somewhat obviously named, was completely out of my comfort zone the first time I tried it. St
anding straight up on the back of a large animal, nothing to hold onto, seems counter-intuitive, to say the least. And to be honest, I'm hard pressed to imagine the need for this in a wartime situation, unless you're trying to distract the enemy by giving the impression that you've lost your mind. But then, we're talking about Germans here, for whom over-achievement is the least that's expected. And in feats of athletic prowess, they were just borrowing from the Spartans. Best thing about the stand: no arms required.


It felt good to get out on Saturday. Vaulting seems one step away from superhero status. As a human, I've had many long hiatuses in the past five years, when I was too weak to leave the house, much less get on a horse. Even now, one practice can put me under the weather for days. That's the part people don't see when I'm the girl with one arm standing on a trotting horse. I have daydreams of performing before huge crowds, doing a one arm hand-stand to the tune of 'Rock Me' by Great White. But I've left practice in tears, realizing the gulf between reality and imagination, which is constantly getting the better of me. And I want to quit. Like when I quit piano lessons because I didn't think I could be better than the best two-handed player.

I wasn't able to vault at all last winter, which gave my head some time to clear. I wasn't meeting my expectations, true. Nationals were out of the question, I can't even get up on the horse by myself. Why was I vaulting at all?, I wondered.

And this is what I got: I've never cared much for competition, ribbons or awards. I vault because I believe in the sport, because it's beautiful and therapeutic and exciting to watch. Rick isn't an amazing vaulter because he's the best; he's extraordinary because he gives other people reason to believe. I want to be extraordinary, too; and that is not beyond possible.

After all, Beethoven was deaf.


[*This post made possible by the contributions of Little Gen...and viewers like you.]

Tuesday, November 16

hands across the nation

I had two new phone messages on Saturday afternoon.

"Hello. This message is for Finneas. This is Fiona, and I am a short, attractive, well-dressed...little arm; and I am looking to go on a date, and wondered if you would call me back..."

The message continued on with my friend N
ichole breaking into uncontrollable laughter which continues, recorded and unremitting for the next four minutes. The next message was mostly just Nichole laughing. I think maybe raising three children under the age of seven is getting the best of her.

I was afraid it would come to this...not that Nichole would lose her mind...but that Finneas would eventually be getting romantic proposals.

And I've got more issues...primary
on the list is an inability to return phone calls in a timely manner or at an hour when the recipient of my call might actually be available. Which made it an act of momentous significance that I caught my friend Joy in Pittsburgh at a grocery store buying Redi Whip.

"I wanted to talk to you about something," she says, "You know how your little arm's name is Finneas?"

I nod to the phone receiver.

"Does your big arm have a name?"

I admit that it does not. Joy points out the inconsistency and inequity of the situation. Then we talk about how
she is caring for her eight-month-old son, breastfeeding, working full-time, volunteering at church, and currently planning a Thanksgiving dinner for fifteen people at her house.

I'm left wondering how my arms are even on the radar for these moms. They have, arguably, the hardest job on earth, impacting the wellbeing of the next generation, and I'm sitting
here writing about my arms. Something is not right.

I guess I should have Finneas fitted for a suit to fit his social life. But I've said it before, naming appendages is not my forté, nor does it come naturally. If the large, big, strong arm is to have a name, it will have to come from you, my readers.


I have a vague memory from childhood
in Philadelphia, of one day when people held hands across the city, from city to city, all across the country. I don't remember why they did this; to a child, reason is always secondary. But I was captured by the concept that you could hold a person's hand, who was holding another person's hand, who was holding another person's hand, in some way, literally touching a person on the other side of the country...or was it the world? Simple, but kind of unimaginable.

This week, I heard about my arms from Maryland to Pittsburgh. Basically the same thing. Right? Interesting bit of trivia...Pittsburgh is the most often misspelled city in the U.S. And I thought Albuquerque was hard...wait, is Albuquerque in
the U.S.? Please advise, because I am having the darnedest time convincing people that I don't live in Mexico.

My train of thought, after many unrelated detours, was nicely tied up yesterday with this:

Come, children, let us go
We trav
el hand-in-hand;
Each in his brother finds his joy
In this wild stranger land.

The strong be quick to raise

weaker when they fall;
Let lo
ve and peace and patience bloom
In ready help for all.

G. Tersteegen

And I've been thinking a lot about how important this is, reaching out to love. I think
Jesus said something to that effect; that it is the most important thing.

Literally speaking, this is a challenge for me. I'm shy to offer my small arm to another person, fear
ing it may not be welcome [refer to numerous baby-scaring incidents]. I'd rather dissolve into the carpet and get trampled by a wedding conga line, than link up. Whenever possible, I choose to be the caboose.

Most dreaded is the invitation to join a circle of hands. Generally I find myself to the right of someone feeling equally awkward, who, after a moment's pause, lays a hand on my shoulder or pulls me into a half hug, leaving the impression that we are more intimately connected than the rest of the circle. Of course, this wasn't a problem when I found myself to the right of my crush in a high school circle.

Perhaps it's a strange psychological twist that holding a hand seems particularly intimate to me. It's different from a hug or even a kiss, either of which can be casual or passionate. Hand-holding indicates a different status, belonging...dare I say, commitment. I've never felt comfortable holding a man's hand, never reached that kind of commitment in love outside my relations. Then again, maybe my hand-holding weirdness comes from a secret fear that I should actually be committed. Sometimes I see the men in white coats coming.


I'd joined the end of a dance procession at church, when I was surprised by a light tap on my shoulder. An adolescent girl reached out and grasped Finneas, who seemed equally startled and pleased. She was unaware of the boundary of awkwardness; also, most likely unaware that my small arm has a name. But her touch was more than physical, and I didn't mind one bit.


Thursday, November 11

ferb goes to the farm

You may remember your introduction to Ferb, so named by popular demand from my Disney Channel sources. I also think the name fits him.

I led you to
believe that Ferb was in training as my inseparable sidekick and regular OneArmGirl installment. I am loathe to admit, however, that since his blog debut, my grandma's beloved, if somewhat creepy, hook-armed rabbit has spent much of his time sitting atop my bedroom bookshelf, half concealed by a door.

I admit I've never been much of a stuffed animal girl [that's cuddly toys to some of you]. Oh, I had plenty of them growing up, but when it comes to sleeping, they just seem to crowd the bed, inevitably landing on the floor by morning.

I must shamefully admit my only interaction with Ferb, since I inherited him, has been to remove him from his perch for dusting and room arranging. It should be noted that my room re-arranging mostly involves moving my bookshelf to a different wall, only to decide it doesn't fit there, and moving it back; then returning Ferb to his spot, from which he looks at me with deep disappointment in his button eyes. If he could shake his head, he would, I'm sure.

I was getting into bed every night feeling like a hypocrite, so Monday afternoon, I grabbed Ferb off the shelf, tucked him under my arm, and headed out the door to the farm. I set him on the sink counter in the tack room while I poked around the barn, putting things in order. He didn't seem to mind since he doesn't have legs. I was feeling tired and unmotivated, which only pointed to one thing....Dr. Pepper, a temptation I have little power to resist. Plus, Ferb looked thirsty.

I let Ferb have the first drink; it was the least I could do to make up for my wrongful neglect. [I swear he's cradling that can with an evil smile.]

But enough procrastinating; it was time to groom Sam, whom I fetched from the pasture. Sam has never been a big fan of brushing, especially on his underside. At best, he tolerates it.

Ferb was no help with groo
ming at all, having his arm full with a Dr. Pepper and his prosthetic, as always, full with a carrot. He insists on taking that damn carrot everywhere and never eating it.

So, I set Ferb on Sam's back where he wouldn't be underfoot. Well, actually, I put him on Sam's butt because it was the only surface flat enough. Both he and Sam seemed to tolerate this, though Ferb was looking a little stiff. He seemed nervous.

I explained that plenty of people without arms or legs learn to
ride a horse. I'd seen this first hand at the Paralympic equestrian events, I said, he had nothing to be afraid of.

Then Ferb fell off.

And he did not appreciate that I went running for my camera instead of rescuing him off the ground.

He reminded me that those legless paralympians had special saddles and he had been riding bareback. I reminded him that he wasn't riding at all, but standing while I groomed Sam. We didn't speak for some time after that.

But Ferb got back in the saddle later for lesson time.
Little did he know, I was using him to get my riders to use their seat for balance instead of their arms. At least he felt a little more secure this time. And I'm happy to report no one fell off.

In all, I think Ferb preferred the love he got on the ground. Just look at the smile on his face. It was certainly more attention than he'd gotten in some time. I'm hoping it tides him over.

Unfortunately I can't end the day on a high note. In a disturbing insult to injury, Ferb has suffered an serious wound to his left arm, which is coming apart at the shoulder, white stuffing pushing out of his over-stuffed insides. He is certain this happened with his fall, but I suspect otherwise. When the injury was discovered, Kristy secreted him away to the house, for which, I'm sure Ferb was eternally grateful. When I went to collect him before heading home, she promised to sew him back together, to which I agreed surprisingly easily and left him in her care.

I think Grandma would be pleased, though I'm now wondering where Kristy's going to get a needle.