Wednesday, November 15, 2017


I began working on a puzzle before supper. I finished it around 10:30 at night. My rough estimate is that it took me five hours to fill in the grid with all of the correct numbers.

So now it’s bedtime. I should be under the covers, saying night prayers, thanking the Almighty for the blessing of another day.

Truthfully, I am tempted to apologize to the generous Creator. This marvelous planet is replete with activities, teeming with interesting people, full of energy, daunted by challenges, and bursting with opportunities to make the most of every day.

The Lord has blessed me with a long, healthy life. And what do I do with it?

I work puzzles. Sudoku puzzles. Word puzzles. Number puzzles. Jig Saw puzzles. Puzzle puzzles. Yuk!

Of course, I assuage my conscience by telling myself that I am exercising my brain; that acuity in logic and clarity of thought are the by-products of mental activity.

And I go to Google to prove it:

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s an awful waste of time.

On a shelf in the hallway upstairs there is a random collection of diaries Polly and I have started, kept and abandoned through the years. Many of those pages are filled with the minutia of daily living; going to the office, driving kids to school, visiting and/or entertaining neighbors, friends and relatives; household chores and on and on.

They bring back the hectic days of midlife; the ice rink in the vacant lot next door; the Baptisms, First Communions, Proms, Graduations, Birthdays and countless crises encountered by a big and busy family.

Whatever challenges we faced in those days, boredom wasn’t among them.

Not that I am currently afflicted by ennui. The basement of our home in Harbor Springs is my special domain. Here are my locker room, my computer and even an area to practice putting.

And here is my library.

It’s not a big library. Just over 500 books. It would be more, but I donated some to Saint Michael’s Academy, the new Catholic high school in Petoskey.

That, incidentally, is an interesting  and admirable project, launched just a few years ago with the support of Catholic parents who remember their own teen years spent in the Catholic High Schools of Michigan and elsewhere.

It is a testimony to the perceived value of Catholic High School education that parents are so willing to sacrifice in order to provide the same opportunity for their children.

A cursory examination of the curriculum at Saint Michaels provides convincing proof that SMA students are getting a classical education. From the Iliad and Odessey to Julius Caesar and Shakespeare, Socrates and Homer
They read the classics, and study them in their classwork.

Clearly those students are not wasting their time, even if they should occasionally solve a Sudoku puzzle.

It probably would be a good thing for me to pull one of my books down off the shelf every day or so, if, for no other reason than to revisit some forgotten intellectual exercise.

And to enrich endless days of puzzle solving with the facts of history, and the opinions of intellectual leaders.

 I am always amazed at how many of those books I have never read. It is time to do something about that.

I could still do Sudoku puzzles in aid of regularity.


  1. Your Honor
    It is always a pleasure to visit your club in Harbor Springs I was lucky enough to win this years PGA Senior. Thank you for the use of you awesome facility
    Ur not wasting your time doing puzzles. It's a pleasure you need to indulge yourself with continually after all if it was all academics what fun would that be
    God Bless you and Polly

  2. Even God Himself rested. Your life has been more productive than 99% of humanity. Put your guilt away and enjoy the down time.

  3. Old fellow, I certainly do not believe that a 4:36am posting of wise words and musings, is in any way a sign of one in or approaching dotage.
    We have a family tradition of gathering around a card table and doing puzzles, some of which were so beautiful that we glued them up and framed them.
    But time, as we knew it in younger days was an endless continuum of thrills and challenges,and is as we now know, an extremely valued gift of our creator to be used judiciously for the betterment of those we love.
    Maybe tuning up those diaries could also be an intellectual exercise rewarded with the joys of reminiscences for you and Polly during the upcoming gloomy months.
    May many blessings befall you.


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