Powered by orange

As I sit down to write this column, I've just been told I must wear a hand-to-elbow cast on my broken arm for at least two more weeks. I had somehow thought I was a fast healer and a month would be enough.

There are other ways to describe my reaction when I learned my encasement would continue, but I'll just go with "Shucks."

I'm amazed at what is difficult to do when you have only one fully functioning upper extremity. Peeling and cutting fruits and vegetables, for example. My newly identified affection for mangos is sorely impacted. Even washing my hands can be tricky — make that "hand."

I put a shirt on over my head the other day and halfway into it realized the cast was far too big for the sleeve. For a full two minutes I was completely entangled. It was pretty darn funny — although I don't recall laughing. And typing with one hand is irksome — and pokey (for those who are regular computer users, try "control-alt-delete" with one set of fingers).

My frequently stated entreaty to the broken bones in my left wrist/arm has been "Heal!" But that hasn't worked as planned (although our rescued shelter dog, Toby, seems to recognize the term from a previous life "… and lately he comes more regularly when I call him.).

Forgive my obsessive attention to this temporary disability of mine. I recognize it's insignificant when compared with what many people experience. For those of you who identify in any way whatsoever, think of me as trying to add humor to situations that do not, by nature, have much.

I had actually planned to write about something else this week but my glow-in-the-dark arm kept distracting me. Probably because, on a whim, I decided to switch cast colors from Earth Day green to sherbet orange (What was I thinking?). My husband tells me I resemble the caution signal at a busy intersection.

Other than comments like that, he has been very supportive — and yes, he is cutting up mango for me at this very moment.

I opted for an orange cast for one reason. I work for Oregon State University where, with pride, we use the phrase "powered by orange." Here's an example: OSU alumni in the Rogue Valley donated a half day of voluntary service last weekend to help the local ACCESS program repackage food. They are part of a larger effort. For the last three years OSU Extension in Jackson County has donated an acre of land — and partnered with Rotary First Harvest — to grow vegetables for ACCESS. Last year 20,000 pounds of food was grown. But that's not all. Our Extension staff and volunteers travel to food pantries and teach families how to store and cook this produce. See what I mean — this is powerful stuff.

Feel the power. There's an incredible university-sponsored photographic exhibit traveling the state. It's a stunning look at food and agriculture appropriately titled "Savory Images."

No matter what may be going on in your life (or mine), let's acknowledge this — there are many ways to serve, to make an impact on others. And so much in life to savor.

View 'Savory Images' between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the OSU Research and Extension Center auditorium, 569 Hanley Road, off Highway 238 between Jacksonville and Central Point, until May 30. Call for information at 541-776-7371.

Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. E-mail her at s.johnson@oregonstate.edu or call 776-7371, Ext. 210.

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