Archive for May, 2020

Expert Puzzler

Besides penning her excellent Samuel Craddock mysteries, TERRY SHAMES is an Expert Puzzler.

When my Cable Guy and I got a 3000-piece puzzle as a gift some time ago, we said, “No way,” and put it on the giveaway table. Terry Shames took up the challenge, and here’s the result.

The puzzle on March 18, 2020

She shares her story here!

First, you do understand that 15 pieces are missing, right? My dog (or dogs) (Editor’s note, “Sparky”) snacked on them. Because it’s so big, it hardly matters.

I started it March 18, which is when my husband and I went into serious lockdown. It turned out that the only surface big enough for it was our large dining room table. Which was fine. I figured we wouldn’t be having people over anyway. 

Here’s the fun thing: I don’t look at the picture when I do a puzzle. I challenge myself that way. Turned out to be a huge challenge. And also turned out to be a huge mistake (see below) 
I usually try to organize pieces one way or another—by color and texture. There were simply too many pieces to do this. I had to slog ahead.

The puzzle on March 30, 2020

About a week ago, I got sick of it and decided I had to really make a push to finish or throw it away. Of course I’m too stubborn to quit, which meant if I was going to get it done, I had to spend hours every day for a week. But by then I knew that every piece I found a home for meant fewer pieces to have to look at.

The puzzle on May 6, 2020

As for the big mistake. Here it is: I had a big chunk that I had put together separately and as I neared the end, I realized it didn’t go anywhere. So I had to peek at the cover. And found that I had put two sections together wrong. The lower left-hand corner and the upper right-hand corner were switched—I mean really switched, like around 100 pieces in each section. The odd thing was that pieces fit together nicely—wrong.
So two mornings ago I got up and said, “Go for it!” I loosened each offending section and then slid them around to slot in where they were supposed to go. Needless to say, it answered some puzzling (pun intended) questions about what the thing was supposed to look like. An hour later, I was done!
Here is a better photo of the finished product. I had to stand on a stool and try about 10 photos to make it work: 




Sometimes I’m late learning a very useful word. This time the word is


— a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising, frequently humorous. It’s said that Sir Winston Churchill was a big fan.

Here’s one I like especially, since it describes me pretty well.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

More often than not, this is my decision making process. No planning, just responses to what comes my way.

In the writing/publishing life, this is called being a pantser (writing by the seat of one’s pants), not a plotter (outlining the story).

It’s my theory, that in the general population, people fall into one category or the other. For example, how do you approach a dinner party at your home:

            a) write out a menu, check off what you have in stock vs what you need to buy, assemble menus, and so on.

            b) check out your freezer and fridge an hour or so before, and work with it.

How do you approach a project/hobby? (see above choices)

And so on.

Here’s what a pantser’s desk might look like. There’s a rare opening for writing out a postcard. A last minute thought: make a list of items you see here. A prize for the longest list in the comments.

Does your process work for you – whether you’re writing a book or learning a new skill?

That’s all that matters. The target will take care of itself.

A Spam Test

Last week’s post, a quote from Carl Sagan, earned me nearly 100 SPAM comments over the course of a couple of days. Was it Sagan who drew them? The quote itself? I have no idea.

I eventually deleted the post and all the spam, but what a nuisance.

This is a test—a simple photo a friend of mine took of the NYPL from her hotel room across the street, to see if the spammers will follow me here.

Yours, Camille/Margaret/Ada/Jean, and now Elizabeth!