Friday miscellany: Summer solstice and puzzles

This was the first official week of summer vacation. The three younger kids went to Vacation Bible School. My eldest tagged along with my husband on a work trip. It was a retreat, with families invited, but I couldn’t go, so it didn’t make much sense to send kids who couldn’t look after themselves. My son went snorkeling, and went to the kids’ club or hung out in the room watching videos (not dissimilar to my hotel room experience). I think he had a good time.

Also this week: the bittersweet recognition that the summer solstice means these are the longest days. From now on, we will have less light, all the way to December.

I flew to Florida (again!) for a speech. On my trip home, our pilot and air traffic control timed everything around Philadelphia’s horrible thunderstorms. They delayed us a little to deal with one patch of weather. The lady next to me was quite nervous about this; she explained that she had a tight connection and was traveling to her grandson’s graduation the next day. We wound up looking through the airport map in the magazine to plot out the bus route to that terminal where she’d make her connection. As soon as we landed we got the somewhat happy news that her connection was 20 minutes delayed, meaning she would definitely make the flight. Then…two minutes later we got the much-less-happy news that her flight was canceled. I suggested a car service (it was a short commuter type flight). I’m hoping she made it. We got slammed with another thunderstorm, and it took me an hour to drive what should have been a 30-minute trip home.

I am currently reading Dune. The edition I have is 800 pages, which seems daunting, but much is dialogue, and reads quickly. I’m already about 250 pages in. I’m curious if any blog readers have read it, and what they thought. My goal is to finish by the end of June so I can include it in my Books Read in June round-up.

Other things I’m doing in my free time: puzzles! Jig-saw puzzles make for a good, non-screen, low-energy activity. I’m partial to the 200-piece Crocodile Creek ones, since with a pre-teen child helper, we can finish those in about 45 minutes. However, the kids are growing, and apparently Crocodile Creek now makes 500-piece puzzles, so I just bought two of those. We shall see what our timing looks like on those; my guess is it will be more than 2.5x our time on the 200-piecers.

If anyone is going to Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit in Portland next week, let me know. I’m speaking on the Saturday of the conference and would love to say hello in person!

Photo: A new 200-piece puzzle that my 9-year-old and I assembled last night. Dinosaurs and a world map. Puzzles have completely consumed our dining room table; I guess the dining room is more practically the “puzzle room.”

10 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Summer solstice and puzzles

  1. We have just gotten into puzzles too! My four year old can do a 100 piece puzzle himself and I love to help. Can’t wait until we get up to 500 pieces!

  2. I read Dune about 14 years ago after pulling it out of the most illustrious home bookshelf I have ever perused. (It was at a country estate in Ireland and we were house guests of the son of a very very famous author). I’d read a lot of fantasy and sci go before reading Dune and I would place it as a Tolkein-esque work. Maybe not the most exciting for modern readers (my daughter abandoned it this year) but foundational.

  3. I read Dune years ago, and then re-read it a number of times. I was a teenager at the time, and I was blown away by the intricate and detailed world and the religious and political machinations the author designed. I thought the ending was great and I never felt the need to read all the hundreds of sequels and prequels (I like stand-alone books, not series).

    I am not sure I would be as much in love with it if I read it for the first time now – my reading tastes definitely changed somewhat over the last 20 years… But I still really like (some) science fiction – it tends to be under-rated. Science fiction can sometimes get away with exploring issues that are taboo and/or would be censored (especially if you live in a totalitarian society) under guise of “these happened in a galaxy far, far away…”

    I’ll be curious to hear your impression of Dune. Do you come across books that you don’t really like, but feel like you would have absolutely enjoyed them if you read them as a kid or a teenager?

  4. I started reading Dune last summer and abandoned it, but I’d like to get back to it. My husband isn’t a big reader and Dune is one of his favorite books (he read it as a teenager). I do tend to like science fiction and fantasy, but for some reason I found it hard to get into Dune.

    My husband and I love puzzles, too–we usually have one going on a side table in our family room. It’s very low energy and a nice way to wind down at night sometimes. I’m a librarian and we have an honor system puzzle swap in the lobby of the library, where we can donate puzzles we’ve completed and pick up new ones for free. That’s where I got the one we’re working on now–I chuckled because someone had marked it “very hard!” and it is!

  5. Dune! I tried to do the light version – watch the David Lynch adaptation. Even as a total Lynch fan girl, couldn’t do it. Snoozed both times!

    Related to your note about the kiddo on the business trip: how did you decide he was ready for this? Mine are only 6 and 8, so can’t be left alone, but I’ve starting thinking about what markers we’ll use to assess that when the time comes…

  6. The summer days may be shorter from here, but at least the weather is improving! I have taken advantage by doing more walking outside. Though I live in NYC, there is easy access to nature. Last weekend, I spent hours at the Stormville outdoor flea market, which enabled me to get hours of walking and bargain shopping at the same time. I felt like it was 2-for-1 in my time diary:)

  7. Oh *that* Portland. You know even the ‘Location’ tab of the World Domination Summit website doesn’t specify Oregon. (although it mentions light rail which means it IS in Oregon)

    -The ‘right’ Portland
    (i.e. Portland, Maine)

  8. I can’t wait until my not-quite-two-year-old is old enough to do puzzles! Or even just old enough not to steal and eat the pieces…

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