6 January 2014

Catching Up and Reading Plans

Let's start off by getting the boring stuff out of the way.  Since last March I have been managing through some really frustrating pain issues regarding my shoulders.  Last Spring, couple of appointments with a sports injury physician resulted in my feeling incredibly underwhelmed as he fixated on the fact that as a fifty-one year old woman not actively pursuing a position with an Olympic team of one sort or another my problem must be cancer-related.  I can't believe that in 2013 I was experiencing what it must have felt like to be a woman during the Victorian era with his questions regarding my menstrual cycle and headaches, which may I add, are not an issue.  Cutting off my nose to spite my face, I stubbornly refused to waste time with any more twaddle and surely time, rest, and yoga would heal my shoulder pain and spasm.  In November, when it became apparent that I had overestimated my body's ability to recover I called my family physician.  A double case of frozen shoulder was the diagnosis, or adhesive capsulitis in medical terms.  In a constant cycle of inflammation causing spasm in my upper trapezius muscle it means that lying down on a heated blanket is pretty much the only time there is some relief from pain.  And it's so frustrating to drag kitchen chairs around to retrieve anything from beyond the bottom shelf in the cupboard as my reach is pitiful.  Sitting at the computer and typing for any length of time makes the ligaments in my upper arms hurt like hell so it happens so rarely these days.  The recovery time for such an annoying affliction can be up to two years but I am really hoping to cut that time down by half...ever the optimist.  So there you have it in a nutshell.  On to much nicer things - like books!

What we have in the above photo are the books I keep meaning to read when something else pushes forward instead.  This is going to be the year for the short story to shine.  My Persephone compilation offers a treasure trove of stories to delight in and can there be a better way to try on a new author for size?  And I've just spotted the story to read first in my Penguin Book of British Comic Stories, a snippet from Henry Green called The Lull.  A bit of book browser regret has washed over me since I left a copy of Green's Back behind at a shop in Toronto a couple of weeks ago but hopefully it will still be on the shelf on my next trip in.  My overly practical rationale is that Living and Party Going haven't been dusted off yet so I should just get on with those before adding any more Green to my shelves.  Being practical is a curse at times.  Loving is a fantastic story, by the way, and has stuck with me since reading it ages ago.

The centenary of the First World War will no doubt bring forward a plethora of stories from that era.  Not one to read mysteries I was helping my husband find a book at Christmas when the pretty cover from the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd caught my eye.  It was the third in the series so I'm going back one title to hopefully fill in a detail or two about this nurse during wartime and her sleuthing skills.  And by the sounds of things in the blogsphere, I must be the only one who hasn't read A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr.

Listening to my favourite book bloggers on my iPod, The Readers and Adventures With Words, has piqued my interest in reading newer fiction (they really are excellent!) but my heart craves twentieth-century writing most.  Norman Collins's London Belongs to Me was oh so wonderful and Bond Street Story sounds just as good judging by the first few pages.  When life on the shop floor leaves me ready for a gear shift then Penelope Lively, Winifred Holtby or Stevie Smith should fit the bill nicely.  Does anyone remember how much fun it was to join in on those Persephone and Virago Week read-alongs?  I digress.

Time for something completely different.  Every aspect of the Dandy lifestyle holds a bit of fascination for me (don't ask me why) so why not read about THE Dandy of his time.  A biography by Ian Kelly has been sitting on my shelves for years and years, it calls to me at least once a month and yet it languishes.  If nothing else I should stop being such a monogamous reader and dip in and out of a non-fiction book every now and then while enjoying a good fiction read.  While on the subject of non-fiction and dandies, the memoirs of The Duchess of Windsor in The Heart Has Its Reasons will no doubt blow away anything found in the biography section of a library.  Finding this book on a dusty lower shelf at the Reuse Centre made my week last year and yet, has it been read?...no.  I can't say that I am overly taken with Wallis Simpson as a person but oh what a wealth of description surrounding those pre-abdication days.  Nosiness and scandal aside, let's hope there is plenty of blather about those exquisite jewels and stunning fashions in her closets.  No doubt paid for by the British taxpayer...if you are going to be nosy, at least be aware.

Joining any sort of 'dare you not to buy books for awhile' group usually proves to be a dismal failure for me but I am quite confident there is plenty to keep me happily engaged for the time being.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear you've been suffering such pain, Darlene. I do hope you can find a treatment that helps. Not progressing must be the most frustrating thing. Your pile of books looks very tempting. I have Poor Caroline & Harriet on the tbr shelves (sounds like I'm running a boarding house for wandering women) but I have read the Persephone short stories & they are wonderful. About half of them had appeared in the Quarterly & Biannual but most of the rest were new to me. A Month in the Country is one of my favourite books. Have you seen the 1980s movie with Colin Firth & Kenneth Branagh? It's a beautiful adaptation. I agree with you about Wallis but I've become more sympathetic towards her lately. I believe she didn't want to marry Edward but he virtually blackmailed her into it because he was so needy. I think she would have been perfectly happy as his mistress. I want to read Anne Sebba's biography. She found some letters from Wallis that are quite moving. I have a feeling that THHIR will paint the romantic picture though.

  2. Oh Darlene, I thought you had been rather quiet, I'm sorry it was for an unhappy reason, and I do hope that you can find the right therapy to make things better. There are two of us who haven't read A Month in the Country, but I have re-read The Moonstone quite recently and can recommend it as a book to transport you.

  3. Urgh - that sounds appalling and so limiting. I hope you can find a way to speed up your recovery. I actually bought A Month in the Country yesterday, as I was tired of being the only person who hadn't read it!

  4. (Four of us who haven't resd it! :) )

    I'm so sorry about your shoulder. I hope you find something that helps. That doctor should be frozen! (But if you want to see the funny (?) side of his old-fashioned notions, I recommend the movie 'Hysteria.' I had it on my DVR for months and finally watched it.

  5. Oh Darlene, I'm so sorry to hear about all that pain and related stress. It really does get to you after a while, doesn't it?

    Take care. I hope you find a way out very soon.

  6. If it makes you feel any better, you can add one more to the list of those of us who have yet to read A Month In The Country. ;)
    Wishing you a speedy recovery so that you can get back to enjoying all the things you used to do, minus the pain. Take care!

  7. So sorry to hear you're in pain, Darlene, and wishing you speedy healing.

  8. Hope you feel better soon. Shoulder pain is deeply unpleasant. Looks like you have a good haul of books to keep you going. I must try Penelope Lively.

  9. I hope your shoulder heals quickly, that must be so frustrating. You have a great selection of books there, I must get A Month in the Country down for a reread, I can second the recommendation for the film version

  10. I had adhesive capsulitis. I was told that it was the body's "mistaken" reaction to inflammation-usually one of the rotator cuff ligaments. Scar tissue encapsulates the shoulder.
    The treatment, for me, was physical therapy, where the therapist literally stretched my shoulder joint-very painful. Home exercises were forcing myself to get those dishes down from cupboard with my affected arm, hand walking up the wall, a device I hung on my door jam to pull up my arm. The theory was to tear off the scar tissue.
    But it did work. When my shoulder was initially painful I made the mistake of guarding my movements. Several years later, I started to get pain in my other shoulder and I started my own range of motion till the ligament healed!
    So good luck and God bless. I know how painful this is. Work that shoulder!!!

    1. Thank you ever so much for sharing your story with me, Barbara! I've been quite stubborn about doing as much as I can while gritting my teeth through the pain so your advice tells me it was the right thing to do! A personal trainer at the community centre where I work stood behind me yesterday, grabbed my wrists and pulled up...hard! I had one of my best sleeps last night...hurts so good, as they say. Please feel free to email me through my blog if you have anything to add and I would love to hear about how long it took to fully recover. Thanks again!

  11. It took abut one year for the pain to go away completely. The acute pain lasted about two months and after that ot was definitely bearable. I'm sure I got it from work. (I worked in an ICU as a nurse at the time, constantly lifting, hauling, turning patients. After I healed pretty well the physical therapist gave me some arm exercises to do and I'm faithful to them to the day! I had a nurse friend who had the exact same thing about a year before me so that helped me know it would eventually heal! The one thing I remember the most is if you have shoulder joint pain, range of motion the H* out of it! Good luck! You will get better!