The Sound of One Hand Clapping: I’m Blaming the Chicken

Out here in the hinterboonies we’ve got a local art form known as “barn quilts,” which are 4×4 sheets of plywood painted as tapestry quilts and hung on the sides of barns, sheds, and houses.  Last year I commissioned one with a chicken design painted by our friend MargieB and hung it on the side of the garden shed over the root cellar.  We love the painting, especially Mrs. Barn who enjoys tending and communing with chickens.  I mounted the painting at the wrong height (more about that in a minute) but it is a beautiful addition for the homestead.


This year I commissioned another barn quilt from MargieB to celebrate the hummingbirds we watched every day at lunch flitting about the flowers on the deck rail outside the dining room window.  We had just the perfect place for it on the side of the c.1920 spring house with its 32″ chestnut slab walls, and ten days ago I mounted the painting in its new home.


Even though the new quilt is essentially at ground level it provides a striking visual greeting to anyone pulling up to visit or return home.  Another artistic treasure added to the homestead — check.

Since the process of hanging the new quilt went so well I decided to revisit the location of the chicken painting.   Originally I located it such that it did not cover the window in the garden shed, but we knew immediately that compositionally it was all wrong.  The panel needed to be centered on the wall and this was the time to do it.


It was a beautiful early autumn day, and there was a convenient place to stand on top of the rock wall adjacent to the entrance to the root cellar (marked with the red ‘X”), so I charged ahead armed with my level and battery drill.


I got the painting removed and relocated temporarily sitting on some cleats exactly above the location shown in this image, when up came a slight puff of breeze, turning the painting into a fairly large sail knocking me off my perch.  Down I went into the rock-lined entry to the root cellar, and if the physical evidence is to be believed, the sequences was 1) crashing into the rock wall below me with my right rack of ribs, 2) hitting the stone walkway with my right (dominant) hand braking the fall and in turn breaking itself, 3) followed instantly by the edge of the painted panel itself alighting and slicing open my scalp.  The scalp wound was a gusher, initiating the brand new Besway/Benco t-shirt I was wearing.  Those copious stains will likely launch that shirt to the top of my fashion rotation.

Stunned but never unconscious I took inventory of the situation as I was twisted underneath the fallen paining, laying on the very hard rocks.  Looking down I noticed immediately the gnarly 45-degree angle in my right forearm and knew this to be both aesthetically unpleasing and structurally non-optimal.  After gathering my wits I dug myself out of the mess and went to get an ice compress on it.  Then I drove myself to the local medical center for x-rays and splinting, although they could not actually set the break.  That took a trip over the mountains as Mrs.Barn drove me to the ER of our excellent hospital there.  They set the bone and fitted me with a temporary splint encasing the arm from mid-bicep to mid-finger.  With the admonition to not attempt any movement which might bring misaligmnent to the bone as set and a scheduled appointment for further x-rays and a permanent hard cast and the removal of the staples in my scalp this past Thursday we headed for home.

On the trip home the ribs started sending me their electric messages.  By bed time I was nearly paralyzed by the pain radiating from my side, a circumstance that remained for many days and is subsiding with exasperating reticence.  I still cannot lay down to sleep at night.

Hence, my squirrely blogging and corresponding for the past ten days and the coming several weeks.  It will give me plenty of time to contemplate the fact that I made it to my 60th birthday without breaking anything, and now I’ve done it twice in 13 months.