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When I went to feed the chickens two days ago, I found my favorite hen, Red, a mix of Rhode Island Red and who knows what else, paralyzed. She was lopsided, totally unable to move, her legs stretched behind her.

She’s dying, I thought. When birds are paralyzed, something is drastically wrong and they are dying.  I cried. This was the chicken who came to me hungry and thirsty so I put her in the coop with the others and she thanked me by laying beautiful brown eggs.  If it is possible to love a chicken, I loved this hen.

What should I do? Hasten the process of her dying, put her out of her misery? But I couldn’t do that. Could not see myself or anyone else chopping off her head. Instead, I put some straw in a wide, blue plastic bin and set her in it. She wobbled so I propped her up with a handful of straw and there she sat. I put the bin in shade on the back porch and went inside.

Two of my grandchildren are visiting for Grandma camp. “Grandma, what is that by your eye?”

Red and her banty rooster friend, Jack Benny

“It’s a tear. The red chicken is dying,” I said. “She can’t move. I’m sad.” Then I went to the stove and with back to my family, made pancakes.

Jimmy, 11, said the blessing. “And Heavenly Father, bless the little red hen that she will get well.”  Oh, I thought, how can I tell him when the chicken dies?

An hour later I went to check on Red. I picked her up. She didn’t cluck. She didn’t struggle. But two of her long toes curled and clutched at air. “Hmmm,” I told her. “I must have missed this when I put you in the bucket.”

Another hour passed and I went outside to check on her. This time she clucked when I approached and she was sitting straight, like a nesting chicken. I tried to stand her up. Her legs went down instead of out behind her, but she wobbled so I settled her back into the straw.

I had an errand so I was gone for a couple of hours. When I came back, the bucket was empty and there was one brown egg in the clay pot where she laid her eggs. She was out of the coop scratching for bugs with the other chickens.

Chicken coop. We plant the sunflowers on Mothers’ Day for shade.

What happened? Jimmy’s prayers? A little boy’s faith? So simple.

I wonder if Red was stung by a scorpion. We have a lot of them where I live. It’s possible and could explain what happened.

I had my own prayers to say. “Thank you for saving Red and for answering Jimmy’s prayer.”

What happened to this chicken was a large part of my day. It reminds me of a poem by Willian Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

A red wheelbarrow, rain water, white chickens—a picturesque scene of common, ordinary things, that in a way, become a portrait of a person’s soul, of things that matter to him, to her.

Our small miracle happened two mornings ago. Yesterday, I ran outside and sure enough, there was Red, waiting for her breakfast. I picked a few extra cherry tomatoes for her and a couple of leaves of chard. “Hello, chickie, chickies . . .”


Convinced you can find anything on Amazon, I searched for a book about frozen shoulders and found a gem. It is a strange subject to feel excitement about, but indeed I do.  From Heal Your Frozen Shoulder: an At-Home Rehab Program to End Pain and Regain Range of Motion, the common symptoms of frozen shoulder are

Pain in all directions

Reduced range of motion

Shoulder pain when lying on it

Shoulder stiffness

I have them all, a gimpy left shoulder for which my orthopedic physician says, “Call me when it hurts so bad you want it cut off.”  Grim.  In other words, the MRI showed enough arthritis to merit a replacement. The problem is that shoulders aren’t like knees and hips for which function is readily restored. As another physician said, shoulder replacements are dicey.

But this blog is actually a book review and not a ploy for sympathy—although as I write I am wearing an uncomfortable shoulder apparatus that is supposed to restore good posture and help with the pain. And it does, as long as I can stand wearing it.

Heal Your Frozen Shoulder  by Karl Knopf is a gem because 1) it is clearly written; 2) it has excellent photographs and drawings of exercises and anatomy;  and 3) it is smartly organized into three phases according to restoration of function and diminishment of pain. Knof has worked in the fitness industry for over 40 years and is a believer in restorative exercises.

Some of his tips are about changing the mechanics of your day to day life to protect your shoulder. Others are about activities to avoid – such as don’t work for more than 15 – 20 minutes without a rest for your shoulder and don’t perform prolonged overhead work.

Currently, I’m having acupuncture treatments that have helped loosen up tight muscles and have reduced the pain. Now, I am working on range of motion. Eventually, if the progression continues, I will move to phase 3 in the book which includes strengthening exercises and return to full function.

This is not a speedy process. While injury may be a contributor, a lifetime of misuse also contributes to a frozen shoulder.  It may take a couple of years to return to somewhat normal function.  Hopefully, us bloggers, writers and computer users will thoughtfully protect the wear-out joints: fingers, shoulders, neck, elbows.  For those of us with shoulder problems, this book is a gem.