But this… This was diabolical, this demand David made of him. To give up the one mistress Val loved, the one place he was happy and competent. He closed his eyes and drew breath into his lungs by act of will. Beside him, David appeared to be making a polite pretense of surveying the paddocks and fields around them. Not just days, not just weeks, and by then you will have lost some of the dexterity you hone so keenly now. If you catch it early it might admit of less extensive treatment.
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The Season of Dreams January 17, In a few weeks I will be 57, the age at which my dear brother Richard had a stroke. This guy is a PhD nutritionist, and was out for his obligatory morning jog when he began having trouble completing sentences.
In other words—the picture of health. Exercised regularly, watched his diet like a very well educated hawk, went to the docs and did what they told him to do.
Since the stroke, Richard has written a book, become a master of foxhounds, ridden in competitive horse shows against people one fourth his age, and generally recovered in fine style. The part of growing older nobody likes is that our health becomes unreliable; rather, our health is unreliable—always has been—but now we know it.
In every other regard, my fifties have been a better time for dreams coming true than any other time in my life. I do, though, have more control over how I spend my time.
The parenting demands have ebbed, the professional learning curve is very manageable. Friends who give it to me straight, and—better still—these friends are drawing on decades of their own life experience when they offer me advice. I have wisdom, albeit nobody ever has too much of this resource. I grasp concepts like projection when people accuse you of having their own faults ; and blaming, shaming, minimizing and denying—other means by which responsibility is shifted from the person who ought to own up to it.
If health were guaranteed for the first century of life, I might miss the advantages I have now—terrific, precious, no-short-cut advantages when it comes to living the life I was born to live. Health is not guaranteed. Never was, but as the day inches closer to sunset, I can see that, and decide what I want to do with the remaining light.
It makes my dreams more precious, my blog posts more precious, my dogs and cats and brownies and books more precious. It makes YOU more precious to me, too. What about your life has become more beautiful as sunset approaches? What is better, more free, more peaceful? The optimal practice is to get your feet in contact with terra firma for forty minutes a day.
I betcha it took a Ph. Lord Valentine Windham is a piano virtuoso who is suffering an odd malady of the left hand. Lord Val believes his music to be his defining accomplishment. He camps with his buddies for much of the summer and cooks over an open fire. He does a lot of his bathing in the farm pond beyond the woods skinny dips, if you want to get technical. He kisses a pretty lady in those woods, and falls in love with the pretty lady in her flower garden. Not surprisingly, what Val and Ellen get about each other is that each requires a life that allows for a great deal of creative self-expression.
He learns to love again, despite not having his piano handy to say the hard things for him. She learns to trust again, despite her conviction that she has to manage her troubles without endangering anybody else. I have to wonder now in retrospect how much of their healing took place because they were around each other, and how much because they were in daily, happy contact with the good earth and the great outdoors.
What about you? Spring is coming: Do you thrive on regular doses of nature, or are you one of those who manages quite nicely without poking your nose outside unnecessarily? What Ails My Valentine? Was his whole problem psychosomatic? Physician David Worthington, Viscount Fairly, intimates as much, and Valentine supports that diagnosis when he notes to himself that the first twinge of pain came when he closed his hand around the symbolic clod of earth that began the process of burying his brother Victor.
Valentine has been holding onto to a lot of bewildering losses—no wonder his hand aches. Except… This is one of my early manuscripts, and as such, has been significantly pared down from its original first draft… pared down by, oh, say 50, words. He hid the condition from Her Grace, and by the time His Grace figured out that his baby boy was injured, the affected wrist was healing.
His Grace pronounced it a bad sprain it was a fracture , and tried to tell himself that stoicism even in a five year old is something to be proud of. Her Grace would have known better. In modern medical terms a FOOSH is one condition that can create a predisposition to carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive stress can play a role in carpal tunnel, but so too, the literature suggests, can chronic emotional stress.
So maybe Valentine had a case of carpal tunnel that resolved with rest. Or maybe it was a matter of him having to let go of what ailed his heart before his hand would heal. Have you ever endured an ailment you suspected was more of the heart than the body?
The Virtuoso being about a musician, I expected to be asked if I listen to music when I write. Bach would have been available to him. Over in Vienna, Beethoven would have written all but his ninth symphony, and pianist and composer Muzio Clementi would have been touring to packed houses. In hindsight, I think I would have been happier had I pursued a college degree in composition rather than musicology, because even more than I liked to create music, I liked to listen to it being created.
When I listen to music, my ear is not passive. You hear a string quartet, I hear a cello getting too bossy and a viola hiding under the second violin. I hear magnificent close harmony, or a bass line going muddy as the tempo picks up. In other words, I listen analytically. I cannot turn this off any more than I can turn off the senses of taste and touch. I enjoy both—enjoy them tremendously—but both take focus and effort. Composer G. Handel So, no, I do not listen to music when I write.
That would be like trying to dance and write at the same time—nigh impossible for me. The neat thing about that work is that even in the Regency period, it was popular Christmas music. Hearing the oratorio over and over, knowing my Regency characters would have been thoroughly familiar with it, helped the story flow more easily.
If YOU had written the Virtuoso, what might you have listened to beside my snoring bull mastiff?
Shelves: historical-romance 3 stars or 3. Were given a delicious beta hero, a lovely widow, and a natural-feeling romance. Then, the plot deteriorates with critical revelations and nonsensical behavior. The some- kind-of-wonderful feeling turns into what-the-heck is happening.