We loved you and your work, Molly. Where you now are, may you carry on in the spirit that you always have, pointing out that which requires change.
Bonnie and Walt
It was with a sense of deep sadness that we heard news on the Stephanie Miller show this morning of the possibility that one of our favorite columnists, Molly Ivins, is losing her long battle with cancer. The latest news that we can find on the net is five days old, and did not quite convey the seriousness of her condition. This morning's news makes it seem likely that she is soon to pass to a better place.
If it is Molly's time to go, we wish her well on her journey. If there is a chance that she may yet survive her latest struggle, we send our prayers her way, in hopes that she may yet be with us for a while.
Here is the answer to the Jan. 14th sudoku.
Bonnie and Walt
We seldom use this page as it was perhaps meant to be used (i.e., as a daily journal) for the simple reason that little in the way of ordinary life changes for us (those of you who have been visiting for awhile know that when a major event occurs, it is likely to be chronicled here, just as a way of preserving the memories.) The little vents and gripes of daily existence that we experience are dealt with outside of this page, in our interactions with friends whom we have met through this medium but who have, with us, moved beyond it, and we thank them for demonstrating the patience that they do.
That being the case, we have felt free to use this space as an entertainment venue of sorts, to put into words and pictures notions that we (as perhaps might some of our visitors) find humorous; to call attention to items that have impinged upon our attention, just for the helluvit; and to showcase the various products of our interests.
We are no longer attempting to attract visitors, or even seeking comments as we once did (not that we don't appreciate the ones we receive - we truly do); we have attained our goal of having discovered a few good people who appreciate what we are trying to do, and have become, we like to think, friends, or at the very least, welcome acquaintances.
We have exhausted our feeble repertoire of things to say about one of our favorite pastimes, puzzles. Even if we had much more to say upon the topic, you would, no doubt, all be moved to go outside and contemplate cloud shapes rather than subject yourself to such horrible torture. Hence, we shall simply publish the (for now) last of the J-land sudokus.
This puzzle contains the name of a journaler who resides solely (as far as we are aware) at blogspot. In his journal, he has recently taken to chronicling the events of his newly-wedded life. The fill-in portion includes his name and the title of his journal.
On future Sundays, we may throw in a sudoku from our CityState series, a word search, or one of our current fascinations, the presently titled Cryptocrostics (formerly heralded as WordFigures - we changed the title to more properly reflect the dynamic of the puzzle.)
Once again, we are beginning to bore ourselves. It's time to put this outside.
Bonnie and Walt
It's Wednesday already. Why, only yesterday, it seemed like it was Tuesday.
It's already obvious that we have nothing to write about. Last night we watched what the cable news channels persist in calling the SOTU. It was unremarkable, except for the rather subdued nature of the speech and the entertainment value of discovering which section of the audience thought it appropriate to stand and applaud at which initiatives were being proffered.
Having beat it to death in the late hours of yesterday and the early hours of this morn, the news cycle has already moved on.
Despite the serious nature of the consequences for our people and our country, we find it hard, these days, to get very worked up about things. Perhaps, having seen too many of these spectacles over the years, we are just overly jaded. Or maybe we sense, after all has been spoken and left undone, the futility of expecting miracles to occur.
Fret not, news junkies. The sound and fury will continue indefinitely, even if you never discover anything of substance. Perception, at bottom, becomes reality if it is shoved in front of our exhausted minds often enough.
Here is the answer to the journal sudoku of Jan. 7th (it seems so long ago now. We should have resolved to swear off the consumption of news.)
(Note to Barb: if you haven't done it yet, don't peek.)
Bonnie and Walt
We are posting the item below, an email that we received from one of our friends, because credit (and respect) is hard to come by.
And I am here to make a little difference.
Last week, hubby wrote a damn nice story about a woman who saved a 5-year old little girls life. You can find that here. This woman, then known as Tia Peterson got married over the weekend and is now Tia Cunningham, had this little girl in her wedding as her flower girl. It's truly an amazing story and Pat did a great job writing it.
I was getting emails from Pat all day yesterday with updates on something that has turned a bit frustrating. We live in a very small area, many times the bigwig news papers and news stations will troll the little local newspapers for some story and basically steal the story from the reporters out here. Not uncommon but never are the kudos given to these little locals who go to great lengths to credit a source for their scoop.
The story of this woman is now going national thanks to Pat's write up of her. Pat was getting calls from Inside Edition, a magazine/company called Splash, WCCO did a story on her and no credit for how these places found this story.
The grandmother of this girl originally called Pat a few weeks ago and asked if he would do a story about this. Of course he said yes and interviews were done and the story was written.
Pat is very frustrated with this turn of events yet happy that this family is getting some attention for their persistance and abilities. So I wanted to point out that if any of you hear about this, it came from the North Branch Post Review Newspaper compliments to my husband Patrick.
Ironically, our bigwig newspaper ran ANOTHER story that Pat broke in our area awhile back one in which Pat also received an award for, for his investigative work into the story. The bigwig is a little late with their reporting on this one but all the same, another that they ripped out from a small town reporter who's just trying to earn a living for his family and perhaps some credit once in awhile where credit is due.
UPDATE: One of the women related to this story phoned Pat at work. Apparently Splash News is offering her an exclusive contract to market this story across the globe. She would get 15% of the proceeds...but still no thanks to my husband! Pat's advice to her? Get a lawyer.....more to come.
It is shameful that all too often, things like this occur, so we hope to help, in our small way, rectify an injustice.
Bonnie and Walt
The state of Paranoia is not a wonderful place in which to live. It is replete with enemies seen and unseen, a place that leads you to question the trust and faith that you have placed in others. It compels you to the conclusion that you are alone, that it is impossible for anyone to truly befriend you, that you are beset on all sides by those who wish you not well, but want only to use and abuse you. There are ways out of this state, but they are narrow, murky, and difficult to locate. I intend to keep searching.
Today's puzzle features a journaler who, despite health issues, is hard at work on a renovation of his house amid some beautiful heartland scenery, as his photographs attest.
Bonnie has rated this puzzle ****.
A correction of an oversight - last Sunday's puzzle was also rated ****, but I forgot to include it.
Bonnie and Walt
Souvenirs of a Life
Most of us, if truth be told, have at one time or another succumbed to the lure of some small trinket while engaged in the act of touring unfamiliar places. We purchase these items not for any intrinsic value, for most possess little or none, and while some can be rather charming, there are a few that are simply hideous - enough so that they would make worthy additions to Bonnie’s Curio Closet. No, we procure them, often against our better instincts, as a means to jog our memories when the occasion has long passed, to try to recall the outpouring of emotions that filled us at those times we considered to be special. Flea-market-like retailers take advantage of our weakness for these items, and cannot be blamed for doing so; it is up to us to resist the attractions of such things as naked-lady ashtrays or little statues dedicated to forgotten war heroes or charming monstrosities such as flamingo snow globes or lobster claw harmonicas (we loved it, Kathy, we’ll never part with it!)
There are other items that could be considered souvenirs of a life well-lived - photographs, letters and private papers, special books and objects, films and audiotapes, paintings and crafts produced by loved ones, collections - the list could go on and on.
The original puzzle of Dec. 31st and the answer that is here reproduced represents, for us, one such souvenir.
Bonnie and Walt
Winter has finally arrived in the Northeast, commencing with that loveliest and most dreaded of conditions, the ice storm. The last major ice storm that our locality has seen was in 2003; we seem to receive at least two per decade. The 2003 version was annoying but we toughed it out, spending the majority of our time huddled under two comforters and a pile of lesser blankets, listening to our portable radios and thanking ourselves for having plenty of batteries on hand. That year, the power was off for only a few days; in 1991 the power was off for over two weeks, and we ended up staying with some friends in the city, which naturally had a higher priority in the matter of power restoration than did the suburbs.
Yesterday was not much of anything to write about; despite the overheated excitement of the weather reporters, the coating of ice was thin and the lights only flickered a few times at midday - it would have inconvenienced my heating oatmeal had the power gone, but not much else. We are very lucky in that after the ‘91 storm, the park made a wise decision to place all lines underground, and the only way we lose power now is if a substation is taken out.
The sky is of a gray quite bright; near the brilliant circumference of the sun the atmosphere contains a hint of salmon color, very pretty in its way - it is nice to be able to enjoy the nuances and subtleties that are there represented. We are now receiving our first authentic snowfall. If we are lucky, it won’t amount to much, and we will have the pleasure of viewing the snowy landscape without having to move portions of it so as to allow us to go anywhere.
Awhile ago, when we were yet working, I remember that I had written down a few themes that I thought at the time might be nice to incorporate into a crossword someday. This was, of course, long before it occurred to us that we had some small talent for constructing puzzles - indeed, before we possessed the wherewithal to construct them. Now those themes are tucked away in the security and solitude of a binder pocket - and we have no idea which binder, in which mound of detritus, might hold those golden little products of vagary.
We hope, friends, that you are all enjoying your day as much as we are ours.
Peace be with you.
Bonnie and Walt
As far back as we can remember (and, to be sure, that is a way), Sunday morning has been imbued with a special aura that pertains to no other day of the week. When we were very young, it was a day to sleep late (for our parents, certainly; we were likely up at the crack of dawn) and to dawdle over the breakfast table. As we aged, it became a day to suffer the ministrations of our mothers and don clothing that we would normally loathe, and refuse to be found dead in, all in aid of appearing before the Lord in something approaching respectability.
After we married, it became a day of rest for us, an opportunity to forget the worries of the workday week, a day to read through the various sections of the Sunday paper and to take long exploratory drives through the countryside.
It is still that for us, lacking only the worries and the long drives, but with an added sense of peace. And it has become a day for us to demonstrate that we are not yet virtual vegetables by posting the resultant products of our pixel-slathered fingers and twisted minds. To wit -
This edition represents a prop for this particular journaler, who is something special in J-land. It is unusual in that there are two names located on the diagonal (we thought she would want it that way.) The fill-in portion includes her s/n and the name of her present journal.
In response to our "Grumpy ..." post, Jeff requested that we list the advantages of aging. We at first quirked, smiled, grinned and guffawed, thinking that there was no possible way to fulfill the request. We have, however, given the notion due and careful consideration, and have managed to cobble together two very important and related advantages. The first is that at our age, we no longer have to make compromises in how we present ourselves to the world. We are free to be exactly who and how we are, without the necessity of having to play nice in order to maintain employment, or to get along with those for whom we have lost respect through the process of familiarity. It is not that we are sociopathic, but there are certain types of people who we have learned, through the acquisition of bitter experience, simply do not suit us, and we now have the choice of whether or not to enter into a relationship with them.
The concomitant advantage is that we are free to speak as we wish, and to say exactly what is on our minds, without much caring if those who do not like what we have to say become offended by it. If what we say offends someone, it is likely someone we would not care to maintain a relationship with anyway.
This is not to say that we delight in going out of our way to offend anyone. We believe in the idea of living and letting live, and we truly appreciate others who feel the same.
There is a delicious peace of mind and comfort in discovering that one can, and ought, be true to oneself.
Bonnie and Walt
Kathy, who posts the private journal Life On Flamingo Row, has requested a favor of her friends. Her dear cousin's son was involved in a vehicle crash, and did not survive. She has included a link in her journal to one of the newspaper articles, if you wish to follow it. We ask that you please send your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes her way, that she and her family may be comforted. It is always difficult, we know, to cope with circumstances such as this, and J-landers are known for joining together to offer their support and comfort to those in need. If it's not too forward of us, we would like to thank you, J-landers, on Kathy's behalf, for being there for her.
Here is the answer for the Dec. 24th puzzle.
We would like to profusely thank both Kathy and Barb for their lovely plugs in their journals, and as long as we're tossing in links, we'd like to welcome Debra and Vicki as charter members of our little puzzle club.
For our signoff, we would like to quote Kathy:
Bonnie and Walt
This semi-stream of consciousness entry may never see the light of day, but just in case ...
There are festive, colorful drifts of paper everywhere (one of the facts of life at the unexceptional bookbindery was the sheer amount of paper that the print room used as text dividers, and we employees were the grateful recipients of the excess, supposedly non-reusable sheets, shrinkwrapping them into 8 inch tall bundles and toting them home, storing them against the day when we might find a use for them) covered with the expired remains of formerly pristine puzzle grids. Such is our life now, and if we dared take a moment to muse upon where our life has led us, we might suffer serious mental damage, so it is probably best that we do not. However ...
We have begun a new series of crossword-style puzzles that require (requires? Is series singular or plural?) the solver to deduce the letters that belong in the spaces from the numbers provided (when we actually publish one of our WordFigures, we’ll provide more explicit directions.) The charter member of our puzzle club, Debra, upon setting in to solve the first one, inquired as to whether there was a theme. Alas, there is not, as we told her; it is difficult enough matching words that intersect across and down without worrying about a theme. Her query did, however, challenge us and lead us to attempt to construct a thematic puzzle, an effort that was quickly doomed to failure as we began to try to fit the entries on our word list together. We ultimately constructed one, albeit lacking any hint of a theme; these puzzles are more suited to insertion of words that closely resemble each other, and that is the way we have chosen to go. Still, we had that word list, which seemed eminently suited to a Word Search, so ...
So now we get to the point. I can’t remember now what led us to research this particular topic, but the word list for the nascent puzzle consists of a wildly disparate collection of toys, games and puzzles, items that have for thousands of years been devised simply to challenge the mind at such times as there existed leisure for those pursuits. Many of the entries are games that we remember from childhood, classics if you will, and others are those that attracted our interest as we entered adulthood. The younger members of our visitorship (hah! coined another word!) may be unfamiliar with some of the titles, and will likely notice the lack of games familiar to their childhoods, but we had to stop somewhere. (The point is coming along; please wait for it.)
We webcrawled to amazon.com to take a trip down Memory Lane; we felt certain that many of the games that we half-remembered would still be extant, and lo, they are! Some things seem to attain a species of perpetuity that is singularly gratifying. Anyway ...
Among the gaily decorated (gaudy) collections are a number of editions of a particular title that returned us to the years of our seriously misspent youth, back in the days (the early '70s) when we were just beginning to shape our shared history. Bonnie was performing data entry for a financial institution that was eventually consumed by a larger one, and I was working in inventory at Bausch & Lomb. We had acquired a rather odd set of friends who shared our love of gaming, and we would host frequent weekend get-togethers to indulge ourselves.
Among the many games that we enjoyed playing, often while under the influence of malt beverages and herb, was a favorite called Risk (the game of global domination). One of our group, whom we shall call "Dave", had devised what he conceived of as a brilliant strategy for obliterating the rest of us ("Mike", "Todd", "Bonnie", and "Walt".) He would place his little pile of colored wooden cubes on one territory (for some obscure reason, he seemed to prefer Kamchatka) and make only a few forays into other territories whenever he thought he could score an easy victory. He would continue to build his pile of cubes into a truly massive structure, struggling to prevent it from toppling and spilling across the rest of the board.
By the time he had acquired what he considered to be an army sufficient for conquest and domination, we were all pretty far gone, giggling uncontrollably and sometimes laughing uproariously, stuffing our faces with crackers, cheese and grapes, and wondering where all the herb had gone to. At that point, "Dave" would put his scheme into operation, performing a maneuver that he gleefully titled "The Grand Munch", moving his handfuls of cubes hither and yon, marching across the board swiftly and destroying everything in his path. It was a truly impressive spectacle, and the rest of us could only admire his audacity and the greatness of his military mind.
There was, however, one small flaw in his plan ... on each conquered territory, he would leave but a single, lonely cube, apparently deeming it sufficient protection. The rest of his force would continue on the Munch, leaving a string of territories barely defended. Not being idiots (although rendered nearly so by our vast consumption of mind-altering substances) the rest of us would sneak in his back door, so to speak, and parcel out among ourselves all those territories that he had left seriously underdefended. This operation seemed to befuddle "Dave" even more than he already was; it had apparently never occurred to him that we could be so brash and unfeeling as to deny him his victory by such an ungentlemanly (or, in "Bonnie’s" case, unladylike) method of play.
It is difficult to remember now how often The Grand Munch resulted in an actual win, but it seems likely that it was infrequent, as the notion that sticks uppermost in the mind is that of major befuddlement.
Which led us to contemplation of Donald Rumsfeld, our erstwhile Secretary of Defense. It is impossible to know whether that estimable gentleman ever played Risk as a youth, but the execution of the original march on Baghdad, if memory serves, bore a certain resemblance to what we remembered of The Grand Munch, a massive strike force moving rapidly upcountry, sweeping all aside in furtherance of the objective of reaching Baghdad. Little attention was paid to fortifying gains; the main thrust of the plan was always to move men and materiel directly to the capital. The assumption may have been that the citizens were too cowed to offer much in the way of resistance. That, as it turned out, was unwise, as many of the citizens remained armed, and the token forces (if any) that were left to subdue individual towns and villages were insufficient to the need. In hindsight, The Grand Munch may not have been such a good idea. The concept of shock and awe was not enough, even back in the days when we sat around the dining room table playing the game of Risk, to ensure a quick victory.
Thanx for bearing with us for the trip down Memory Lane.
Bonnie and Walt
Hello, puzzlers. 'Tis a sunny Sunday and in the high 40s here in upstate NY, another fine and snowless day. It almost seems as if Colorado is destined to be the only state to see real snow this year (not that we're complaining, mind you - this weather is kind to our backs and bank account - who would've thought we wouldn't have to fly south for the winter?)
It's an appropriately fine day to go outside and power walk, hit the links or inspect the garden for incipient blooms - hardly the day to hide oneself away, curl up in an easy chair and solve a puzzle. Nevertheless ...
... in case you are one of those people, here's one to curl up with. As we mentioned, we have a few leftover J-land sudokus lurking in the files, and though the temptation is great to toss in a word search or one of our other fine constructions, we'll clean those up first.
Today's journaler is someone who suffers from peripheral neuropathy, as do I, and she knows full well what it means to live with this condition. Despite that, she is a generally cheery and upbeat person, and makes the most of life. The fill-in portion represents the name of her journal, and her name, as always, can be found on the diagonal.
Bonnie and Walt
We would like to be able to report that our life is replete with perennially sunny skies, and that nothing ever obscures our limitless horizons. That, however, would be bullshit fresh from the pasture (actually, the skies outside our windows are quite sunny, and the temperature is in the 50s, and this is upstate New York on January 3rd, and ... and ... this is not right! People, there is something seriously out of kilter here! As much as we enjoy and thrive on this type of weather, it's just too obviously wrong). This is undeniably the real world, and we are still grossly physical beings, with all the attendant aches, pains, sniffles and ... um ...
Sigh. OK. That's enough. We'll shut up now. Here's the answer to the Dec. 17th sudoku.
We'd like to add a few notes about these little monsters that lately seem to be consuming our lives. We have four more J-land puzzles in our files, and we'll publish those before we move on to the CityState series, of which we have now completed 33.
We like to think that we are supplying puzzles that you could not get by going to one of the copious sudoku sites; those, beyond all, are bursting with bland number puzzles, and have no character. Ours, at least, have some small entertainment value in addition to the simple act of solving.
Of necessity, we have learned much about what goes into constructing these beasts; there are certain conventions that must be followed if one is to produce a puzzle liable to successful completion. We have designed tools of sorts to make construction easier - early on, much of the process was hit-and-miss, but as we realized how time-consuming it was, we conceived ways of easing the burden.
Bonnie has begun rating the puzzles as she solves them, so in future, if a puzzle has a rating, we will publish it.
If you note a particular lack of coherence in these ramblings, chalk it up to vicious head colds. We hope you all are feeling better than we are.
Bonnie and Walt