Inflammation of the phalanges

We’ll call it an incident.

I suppose we could call it aging. Or stupidity. But we’re going to go with an incident.

It started with that damned cardboard.

I’ve always known my fingers were bulls-eyes for arthritis. My childhood is pocked with memories of my mom’s engorged knuckles and all the digital calisthenics employed to stave off the tide. My grandpa sleeping with his hands in the air, desperate to get the swelling to go down. My grandma’s crooked beasts and the implication that shoving her entire throbbing finger into her mouth was somehow helpful.

For the past couple of years, my own phalanges have been just the tiniest bit tender and dramatic. Nothing big. Nothing melodramatic. Just a little “Hey, remember me?” kind of attention-getting.

But the other day, with the cardboard, there was a bit more pain than I am accustomed to. And the next morning there was a marked increase in that pain. All 8 fingers–thumbs exempted–screamed from their middle knuckles. “What the hell have you done???”

I’ve been gentle with them since, but I can’t tell you that they’ve really been getting better. Surely can’t tell you that the swelling has been receding.

And Monday, as the temperatures and the humidity rose in tandem, devilish duo that they are, I started to worry.

Let’s back up just a tad here…

I’m trying to find some pictures…

As amazing as Google is at facial recognition, when I search for ‘fingers,’ they just keep coming up with pictures of the grandboys…

OK… Here’s one:

What you’re noting here, with your expert detective skills, is how tight my wedding band is. This was a year ago this week. There’s another ring–from my great-grandmother–on my right hand. Middle finger. More of a dainty thing. Like a knife. A knife with bitty diamonds. That one’s tighter.

Well, it probably goes without saying that I haven’t had my rings off in like 6 years. Probably more. I used to be able to wrench them off in the cold of winter with a hefty squirt of dish soap or motor oil or something, but in recent years? MmmmNo. The knuckles have been–preventative.

In my defense, a couple of those bad boys have been broken a couple of times. The one in the pic inclusive.

Here… I’ll blow up the image for your viewing pleasure:

Now, let’s not get hung up on the wrinkliness of my hands. It’s genetic, and I happen to like it. But you can kinda tell that that ring ain’t comin’ off that finger, can’t ya’?

Anyhoo… I wanted to show you a pre-picture, just for reference. Healthy hands, unhealthily small wedding band, inexplicably stubborn hand-owner. Three years ago I murmured doubtfully to my jeweler buds, “Say, I think I’d like you to saw these things off my hands. *pause* I don’t know if I’m quite ready.” They replied in the affirmative. “Umm… yep. Just let us know.” There was probably some covert eye-rolling, but I was too busy looking at my hands in shame.

OK, back to the present moment. Or the one earlier this week, when the heat and the damp got me wondering if I hadn’t missed the opportunity at keeping all 10 digits…

The ache intensified. The hands were NOT happy. The ME was not happy. And somewhere around noon Monday, in the drip and haze of the day, I realized that spinning them there rings around them there fingers took some doing. The vice, shall we say, was tightening. Swelling. The inverted vice was… nevermind. You know what I mean.

Well, long story short, the jumpin’ jeweler friends were kind enough to invite Me’n’COVID into their home Monday night, for a little non-emergent ring-ripping. They are the best. If ever you need a tiny little Jaws of Life to cut your fingers free from shackles of self-imposed horror, Pam and Andy are your men. Women. Rippers. Jewelers. They also happen to make some pretty spectacular custom jewelry, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.


Also, while we’re distracted, I should note: I don’t know that they’ll be inviting you and your germs into their house during the worldwide pandemic. That might just be for the closest of playmates. Fair warning.

Friends, I cannot tell you how much relief I felt upon the extrication of my fingers from their golden prisons. I was a new woman. A naked-handed, chagrined, grinning new woman.

Can you see the damages I inflicted on my poor fingers?

No. My right hand isn’t really (that much) bigger than my left. Don’t be a goob.


OK, fine. They’re not the greatest of pictures, but I just spent so much time blowing them up and insuring that they’d be the exact same size to save your eyes from some LCD (LSD?) strobing effect that I have to include them anyway.

Regardless of the insufficiencies of my photography skills, you’ll have to trust me. There’s a bit of strangle-hold scarring.

And low and behold, it turns out it wasn’t all my fingers that ached. It was only these two. As soon as the assaulting rings were removed, it became abundantly clear that all that ache was coming from 2 very acute locii–the central knucklage of my strangled ringed fingers.

My hypothesis: These fingers have been arthritic sleepers for years. I have traumatized them beyond measure by keeping them under wraps of this caliber. So much so that I didn’t realize how tight they really were. I’m like a frog in a slowly-boiled pot. Last week, I targeted them directly with the unforgivable cardboard fiasco, and they had had enough. Raised their little voices high. I tried to pamper them, but the damage was done, and the uprising had begun. The tides would not be held back. The heat and humidity were spark to an already smoldering pile, and we were 6 hours away from a double amputee situation.

The fingers, to be clear, are not healed. They are happier by exponential terms, but the release from captivity did not free men make.

The wedding finger, left hand? Doing pretty well. Laudable progress. Until I whack it sideways on the mayo jar. Then there will be muffled screaming.

The middle finger, right hand? We are struggling. That little guy has been keeping me up at night, throbbing like a young Ralph Macchio. He is not by a long stretch done amplifying his little voice. We’ve got some therapy ahead, he and I.

The deeper question: It is truly interesting that these two fingers are the only ones suffering from arthritis. That they were the only two really in pain at all, but so righteously pissed that they, like most of us, projected. I am seriously thinking that the years of constriction torture may have caused the arthritis to begin with. Or accentuated it, at a minimum. I think I restricted just enough bloodflow that these guys didn’t have the nutrient load they needed to stay healthy.

I believe what has happened here is that I have girdled my fingers like so many rabbit-nibbled saplings. The sadness is real.

Good gravy, enough about the fingers, KJ. Believe me, the family feels the same way. Fingers this, fingers that, when do we get relief from the fingers?

How about now?

Here’s a parting pic of m’mangled bling. I’m not really in shape for a fitting, to see what I want the magical Savaii to do with these guys yet, so they’re hanging out sunny-side up while I ponder. I’m thinking the wedding band, once reforged into its former glory, shall henceforward reside in a loose dangle around my neck with my cross. The heirloom will probably be smithied back to its original shape and size as well, and wait to be passed to the next generation.

I am somewhat certain that my ring days are over, though those silocone jobbies are tempting. Anyone have any thoughts?

Moving on…

How about some pictures of the boys?

What boys, you say? Well, our Court brought Gerard’s little brother, Jerome, into the world last month. And B, quick to jump on the bandwagon, is due in November. For those accountants out there, this means that I will be a Grandma THREE times over before I hit 44. What kind of sci-fi dark sitcom is this?

So here’s the newest addition, Jerome Alexander:

Kinda love him.

And here’s big brother, Gerard Alexander, in the new birthday bag:

Time for some camping… Oh, wait… Summer’s cancelled.

Mr. Rar had a big day last week of haulin’ wood and mowin’ lawn around Grandma and Grandpa’s estate:

What else?

Pulled an unholy amount of buckthorn out of the woods with the truck. That was an adventure I don’t care to repeat. But repeat it we will, as all that neat stuff I found growing down in the hayfield, I Can See Cleeeearly Now, is blasted blighted besetting buckthorn.

There will be an assault mounted.

We yanked a boxwood and a Japanese maple that day as well, simply because they looked at us funny.

Here’s the 2-ton harvest so far:

Yes, that’s the mighty John Deere, there by the bucktorn, and up yonder being manhandled by the boy. Here it was employed to consolidate the driveway full of invasives at day’s end. Up there it was run mercilessly around and around the Estate at the demands of the grandboy.

Faithful readers will be thrilled to know that that primary drive belt was the trick, and she is back up and mowing like a champ.

The moles? They’re still snooting things up here and there, and found the garden approximately 3 seconds after we put it in. Traps are set. Aneurysms to follow.

Speaking of the garden:

Where tomatoes come from.

And in the Some Good News * column, we had our first outdoor Liturgy this week. It’s been a while, and it was fantastic to be together for Pentecost. I got to read the Epistle of the day, the one with the mighty rushing wind, and lemme tell ya’, that wind was a-blowin’ through the whole Liturgy. It was a perfect day.

Can’t quite figure out how to caption a slideshow in the new Gutenberg Glory-wagon, so…

  1. In the first pic, you can see the beast of a priest hiding behind the outdoor iconostas, preparing and probably fortifying things against the mighty rushing wind.
  2. Next up, me’n the fam standing in our designated grass circle. The fam is shrinking and the kid is lonely. I have no idea what Scott’s laughing at, and I have even less of a clue why I’m standing like that.
  3. Next: Me, summoning even more mighty rushing winds.
  4. Sixth, and lastly: The beast, properly muzzled, serving communion to yours truly.

I see now that I didn’t take any of those photos. Credit likely goes to my buddy Val, except for the one of the fam in the painted household circle. That one’s from the lovely Starling. Published entirely sans permission.

Well, folks, that’s about all the excitement I could take lately.

I could report on the Tropical storm that made it’s way all the way to Wisconsin…

“I never thought I’d live to see a tropical storm in Wisconsin. We truly are in the fifth level of Jumanji.”

~ Unnamed nurse at the hospital the other day, where I hang out for fun

But really, not much happened there. Some rain. All hype, no bite.

I could report on the catbird that’s nesting in the decrepit arbor vitae outside the office window–the one that kept us from ripping that sad thing out with all the buckthorn–but I’ve yet to take her portrait, and telling you about that without a photo would just be cruel.

I could report on a few other bugs in the body ointment of this old, old woman, but I think I’ve reached my quota in the whining arena.

So I guess I’ll just leave you with the mighty rushing wind, and a whole lot of excitement that we’ll be enjoying these outdoor services all summer long. Could be a fair-weather tradition as far as I’m concerned. What could be finer than plein air worship?

If you need me, I’ll be in my designated circle, rocking the sunshine with St. John Chrysostom,

* For the Hamilton fans out there, check out John Krasinski’s Episode 2 of Some Good News. The ‘start at’ thingie isn’t working, so fast-forward right to 8:27 if you want to get to the good stuff. Be patient.

10 thoughts on “Inflammation of the phalanges

Add yours

  1. After laughing about your mole adventures and conceptually empathizing, last night as I was having a nice Happy Hour on our back deck, I noticed a mole hill not only in the garden beds, but in our wonderful lawn. That is unacceptable and now I’m ready for a fight.

    I was prepared to call them nasty rodents, but in doing my tactical research, I actually discovered that most moles belong to the order Soricomorpha and eat insects and earthworms. How that helps me from a practical standpoint, I have no idea, but a few letters near the end of the scientific name may help me figure out how to make them “morph” away. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why do our knuckles grow with age? Why can’t they shrink, like so many of our muscles? I can no longer wear several rings of familial significance that I inherited, so, like you, I’m pondering which family member to gift them to.

    Enjoyed this; thanks for the smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a ring finger just like that. Finally broke down and bought a slightly larger wedding band, but you’re right… the damage is done.
    Good luck with the mole trapping. Once those little devils find you, they’re not apt to leave quietly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad you set your fingers free! Those pics made me claustrophobic. And “Throbbing like Ralph Macchio” Hahahaha! Wax those rings right off 😉
    Thanks for sharing the adorable grandbaby update! When Chrysostom said, “..teach our children to be good..,” I didn’t realize he meant good at mowing, hauling wood and tractor maintenance until they pass out in a convenient carrying case/sleeping bag. But Rar looked like he enjoyed every second 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! That was unpleasant. Still is unpleasant, but better by double-digit degrees. And I’m telling you what, I suddenly understand why my mom was always exhausted after grandkid visits! Yikes. Thank God I’m only 43.


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