I Rest My Case

My response to the pandemic lock down was mostly to look around and think, “Look at all this WRITING TIME!!!” I finished Lord Stephen’s book in draft, polished my third Lady Violet mystery (finally sent ’em to the copy editor, because somebody might want to read them some day), wrote a couple novellas, got Ash and Della squared away, and then Daisy Dorning announced that SHE wants a happily ever after…. Wheeee!

And I promptly gave myself a case of DeQuervain’s Disease. This is a big brother to carpal tunnel syndrome, involving tendons and ligaments as well as (in my case) nerves. My left wrist and thumb are quite peevish with me. Surgery is a last resort, and after surgery, you have to wear a brace 24-7 and rest the hand for at least a month.

Being fundamentally averse to surgery, and suspecting most of the benefit to the surgery is in those weeks of inactivity, I decided to splint up and seriously rest my paw. How hard can THAT be?

It’s nearly impossible, for me. I ice my wrist when I’m on my tread desk, playing cribbage and getting in my steps. I wear my brace when I’m at the keyboard plying my trade (half the usual word count). I slap on the wogonin cream when I have to take the brace off to get ready for bed (and then the brace goes back on).

My conclusion is that I have a lousy play ethic–or rest ethic, to use a more grown up term. I mostly know how to work, and thank the celestial ministers, I have a job I love. But the idea that I am Not Allowed to keep writing until all the available scenes in my head are documented, that I have to stop just because I’ve reached a certain number of words…. this is no fun. This is no way to get crankin’ on the book. Whose brilliant idea was this?

So I tell myself, “Don’t be ridiculous. Two thousands words is plenty. You’ve been up since 6 am, go upstairs and lie down, get off your feet and take a break. Siestas make us more productive.” I finally bought a Nook so I can at least read while I’m off my feet, though I’m mostly reading historical mysteries because I need to crack that code.

I have in short, turned into a low-RPM version of the perpetual motion machine that was my mother. Her excuse was seven kids and a “traditional” husband who was mostly away doing big science. Fine for her, but why do I find it so hard to just rest, to indulge my passing whims? If I had to list ten things to do by myself at home purely for frolic and detour (legal term for fun), I’m not sure I could.

But as a kid, I had a list a hundred items long: Make a dam in the stream, look for wild flowers, climb a tree, entertain a cat with some string, draw a picture, color, play toys (usually proto-Breyer horses), write a letter, try to circle the whole living room by climbing from one piece of furniture to the next without setting foot or face upon floor, pick cherries/raspberries/apples so Mom can make a pie…

I need to re-learn these restful pastimes, or I suspect a peevish wrist won’t be the worst of my woes. How do you play? Are any of your play modes left over from childhood? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of A Lady’s Dream Come True.

PS: Beckman: Lord of Sins has joined the earlier Lonely Lords at $3.99 in the web store!

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20 comments on “I Rest My Case

  1. I hear ya, Grace, I hear ya. When our lock-down commenced, I was excited by everything I could do, with little to no interruptions. I write a weekly blog for my professional society (it will be five years this September)and I have hundreds of columns about many things important to a choral director. The plan was to edit into a book but haven’t even started it, even now. 🙁 I still write a blog every dang week and just when I think I’ll have time for the editing comes the time to write THIS WEEK’S blog. Sigh.

    I have done plenty of things around the house I’ve been meaning to do for years, so there is that. But it’s almost a distraction from what I’m supposed to be doing.

    I received a new laptop for Mother’s Day with new, improved word processing software (Microsoft Word 360, I think). I can actually dictate columns now and that’s been fun…..I speak the blog and edit by hand after. Something that could help you as your paw heals maybe.

    Have a GREAT July 4th, Grace!

  2. I have always loved to bake. I remember how happy my Dad was that I could bake brownies, cakes and muffins with out burning them! I joined weight watchers in January and was afraid the #stayathome and shortages would negatively impact my progress. I chose to “play” on Pinterest, the WW site and a couple of other recipe sites to figure out how to stay on track using what was in my pantry or available in the store. I have found a few great dinner and low cal dessert recipes.

    I have been reading too. Have decided to try a few new authors and genres. I reviewed a book from a new author and was surprised at how many “views” the review on my blog had. Reading a suspenseful novel now and have a historical fiction novel in the wings.

    As you know, I walk Rose (13 1/2 corgi) each morning. After our walk, we sit on the deck and listen to the birds and appreciate the nature that surrounds us. Rose enjoy her walks and takes her time sniffing the grass and flowers as we walk up and down the street.
    Her version of play is peaceful and quiet- it works for her and me. She listens to every bird call and recognizes the sounds of the neighbors cars.

    Hope your arm is feeling better…take care. Check out dragon software for talk to text. It might help you heal and make your word count.

  3. Hubs and I were just laughing last week about something in the local park looking the perfect spacing to play “the floor is lava” so you had to hop from thing to thing in order to not touch the ground. That was so much fun!

    I do love to go play in the water still. Diving under waves and getting bashed around by the current is so much fun! One of the best parts about living where I do, in my opinion.

    DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is no fun, and I’m sorry you’re having to suffer through it, Grace. I wish quick healing upon you.

  4. Having kids at home keeps play around though in more structured ways than when they were little. On our daily walks we make up stories rotating through us sentence by sentence so we never know where the next sentence will lead. We play board games and my daughter made up some drawing games that have been the surprise hit of quarantine. I am not generally in a playful mood lately, so having play instigators around is crucial.

    I hope you heal quickly. I’m glad you are prioritizing taking care of yourself. As much as it pains me to say it, the books can wait. Proceed as slowly as your body needs to and I second (third?) utilizing transcribing software.

  5. I had the same kind of mother, Grace, and as a result, suffer from the same affliction! My family hates that I am almost incapable of sitting down to watch a movie or just chat with them . . . the deeply instilled need to keep working, producing, doing something USEFUL almost never subsides. I hope your wrist heals, in spite of your inner taskmaster, and I truly hope you enjoy some great books on your reader!

  6. Hmmm. I once dislocated my left elbow and had to spend several weeks in a cast. Real annoying since I had only cats at the time, and those six litter pans and all the feeding and watering still had to be done.

    Two things:
    1) Try not to overwork your good arm.

    2) I know it is different, but could you try recording instead of typing, preferably while taking a walk or doing something physical? I only write reviews but sometimes find that my best insights come when doing something else – not staring at a screen.

    • ETA The ‘only cats at the time’ is because my son volunteered at the shelter and we now have 3 fine dogs to go along with the mumble mumble cats. (all originally rescues)

  7. Grace, I’ve had several episodes of DeQuervains over the years. If you haven’t already, get ye to an orthopedic hand specialist (not a generalist) and see if a cortisone shot will do the trick. Occupational therapy might help prevent it from returning in the future.

  8. Try a dictation program. I use dragon dictate but there are other options. It takes a while to get used to but it’s a great option when my elbows are acting up and I’m in braces from shoulder to wrist. I close my eyes while dictating so as not to get distracted by the lag time between speech and what’s appearing on the page. Also if you don’t have an ergonomic keyboard – get one!!!! Your books are part of what is keeping me sane during this epidemic so please keep writing.

  9. For me, reading is my favorite play time. I like to talk to and play with my dogs, complain about the rotten cat (what a jerk), talk to my friends on the phone or exchange emails. I also like to window shop, plan to remodel my house and correct all it’s flaw (won’t happen).

    Now that you mentioned it, I have not played in a long time. I used to play with my dolls, I rode my bike once I learned how. I listened to music and sang to myself and thought a great deal about the lyrics. I learned to sew but it felt like work, even though I liked the compliments

    Good heavens I was and am pretty boring! LOL

  10. Reading is my primary mode of play and it is left over from childhood. I tried to think of 10 play at home modes/items: 1.) Read
    2.) Garden – in the morning or evening because of the Texas heat
    3.) Bake (hopefully when I can send some of the resulting baked goods to someone else so that hubby and I don’t eat all of it.)
    4.) Play/cuddle with the cats. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our almost 16 year old dog just over a week ago.
    5.) Play on the internet – avoiding politics and social media. There are lots of websites with kitten and puppy pictures, nature photos, historical information, etc. But this usually does involve some reading but not books. Plus kitten pictures 😉
    6.) Watch tv – either a movie or tv series but I really don’t watch many series and even with cable the selection is iffy.
    7.) Sew Aside from masks, I’m slowly working on cutting a king sized comforter into multiple kitten/cat puppy/small dog sized blankets for the county animal shelter.

    And that is all I could think of. Like you when I was a child the list was practically endless. Sadly, I can no longer spend much time doing any one thing, before my neck starts hurting. As a result, some days I feel like I have a very short attention span. I have discovered I can read on my kindle app while walking in circles around my house. . . . It’s actually a way to practice my balance too.

    Best of luck with your wrist rehab, Grace!

  11. I’m alternating between curling up with a good book (I want Lady Violet!) & watching ridiculousness on YouTube. Both are suited to isolation. Failing that, I’m enjoying music ranging from cassette tapes to CDs.

  12. I will borrow kids if I have to. We make Jello, S’mores, ice cream. We burn holes with magnifying glasses. We build forts: blanket, box and found items. We have Brio train track, some much loved dolls and a box of comic books, mostly Archie, but also Asterix, TinTin, Garfield, Herman and more.

    My husband and I play hidden object games on a touch screen, I play solitaire and complete jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. I play piano and sing, although not well, and I can’t pound out frustration without paining for it. I love diving down internet rabbit holes with the same fascination I read the World Book Encyclopedia. I don’t spend much time outdoors anymore, which I regret, but not enough to do anything about it. I love my climate controlled playhouse.

    Have you considered an amanuensis, aka graduate student? I think sometimes they even pay for the privilege.

  13. Oh biker’s wrist, not fun at all. I’m glad youre getting some rest, our lifestyles have certainly influenced the new types of injuries I’m seeing lately. Medical journals have cases studies of “ipad finger”, a type of tendonitis that came from swiping lol.

    Was wondering if you ever thought of revisiting The Duke’s Disaster? I adore all the families you wrote about in that one.

  14. Gosh, I cant think there are that many adults that can name 10 things like that! haha I think most of us have a few though. But most of us do not allow much or maybe even any time for those few things! You know what I realized a couple years ago? When my children became grown ups and it was mostly an empty nest here, I realized that I had more free time. But I found myself feeling like I should do something with that time. Then there was a thing, I realized that people thought I just have loads of free time. And can be called upon for help with anything. Dont get me wrong. I do not mind helping anyone! But I kept hearing this phrase….”I am so busy.” People kept saying it. “I am so busy.”
    I dont know if they meant to say that I wasnt busy or perhaps I give them the benefit of the doubt and they mean that we are both so busy, lets be so busy together. 🙂
    But either way, over the years it took me to finally realize that I am busy!! My busy may not be the same busy as your busy.
    I may be busy reading a book and finishing it quickly because I love it so much. I may be busy taking a painting lesson on line. I may be busy binge watching season after season of Survivor. Watching tv or anything is not a waste of time if I am enjoying it!!
    I am less busy with housework these days because I dont mind a cluttered untidy house at all. When my first child was born, we had a neighbor that came over every day for a month and did something. Swept, dusted, laundry, brought us dinner, etc. Every day. And she told me many times, “Keep your laundry up, dishes and take the garbage out. Really Lisa, if you have done these things, your house is clean enough.” And she is right. haha So I am rarely busy with housework.
    But these people that love to say they have no time for this or that have clean and tidy houses. haha
    So my point is that I guess my busy is different from other peoples busy. We all have our own idea of what is busy. But I am busy.
    Things I love being busy doing….
    1. Reading of course.
    2. Sewing
    3. Painting pictures
    4. Looking through photo albums
    5. Sitting with a neighbor or friend to chat
    6. Trying a new recipe
    7. Learning something new on a computer or my phone
    8. Crafting in general

    Thats all I can think of. So I guess I am closer to 10 things than I thought I would be.

    Grace, thanks for giving me something to think about.
    I am curious, have you thought about writing verbally? There are so many ways to do it. I hope you will force yourself to type one handed or find another way! 😉

  15. I’ve always, always loved reading, and as much as I enjoy other pastimes, if I can curl up with a book I know I’m at “play”. Sitting with a good book, while housework is pending is a wonderful escape!

  16. Not sure I can fully address your question, but I do find some sports enthusiasm lingers. I have learned to play tennis as an adult and that is one of my most favorite play activities along with reading!, scrapbooking and Jane Austen anything.

    BTW, I discovered your books earlier this year and have started reading from the most recent series. I am now starting your first series, with the book The Heir. This is going to be fun!