Friday, January 31, 2014

Watches And Staplers...

My dad was a collector, and he collected stuff. There is a difference. He collected coins and he had some model trains. I'm not sure what other things could be considered "collections."

As stated earlier, he also collected stuff. Being old enough to have lived through, and more importantly, understood what the Great Depression was all about, he had a good reason to hold on to things.

If I had the means (and the storage space...) I'd collect more things, too. About 25 years ago I started collecting watches, but only non-battery powered watches. I wanted the old wind-ups. Back then they were all over the place and I could pick them up pretty cheap. Those days are gone.


Lately, I've taken an interest in staplers--I have NO idea why. Whenever I see an old metal one at a thrift store, I'll pick it up. Today I went to a thrift store and found an old red Swingline (now I have my Red Swingline, so maybe they'll put me in the basement at work...), and I came across a 1971 Bulova Whale Automatic. The watch cost $55. That's pretty steep for a thrift store purchase.

The stapler was $1.

I came home and checked ebay for prices and I saw a watch similar to the one at the thrift store for $395. I almost jumped in the car and bought it. But I checked other ebay items and they had the exact watch in almost the same condition as the one at the store. I could buy it on ebay for $45.

For now, I think I'll stick with staplers. I don't think in 25 years metal staplers will be hard to find, but you never know...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fingers (And Toes...) Crossed!

Because of a computer glitch at work, I found myself with some extra time this afternoon. With overtime and deadlines at work, having some "extra time" was a well-appreciated gift. I used that time to finish up my latest short story, and tonight, I sent it off to the publisher.

Fingers crossed!

In a year since I submitted my first short story to any publisher, I've learned a lot, and I've been extremely blessed. With my first story, I hit a home run on my first at bat. And when I stepped to the plate again, I hit another one out of the park (I'm saying I did great, not necessarily because of the stories, but because they were chosen and included in amazing anthologies...).

So, what does someone who's two-for-two and batting 1000 do for an encore? Well, I wrote another short story and sent if off. The problem was, I got a little lazy. I always knew there was a chance any of my stories could be rejected, but when the first two were chosen, the thought that my story would not be chosen seemed less and less likely. I knew the story and problems, but I liked it and thought it could be improved in the editing process.

I had been working extra hours and I really wasn't writing, but I thought it would be okay.

My story wasn't chosen and that was the best thing that could have happened.

This month I had a chance to redeem myself. The deadline for the next anthology is tomorrow night. I knew I had to do better this time and I believe I have. I approached this project with the attitude that I had to earn the right to have my story in the book's pages. I'm not good enough (and I hope I'm never good enough...) to just "phone it in."

This one may get rejected, and if it does, it means others did put in the time to make their stories the best they could be. It means a stronger product. Even if my story's not chosen, this month I've been putting in the time, working at night and on weekends to meet the deadline and deliver a story that they like and hopefully others will too.

It's in and now the waiting begins. I feel much better than I did the last time I submitted something, even though I'm less confident. How's that for a contradiction?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Memento Saved...

 Tonight I did a little digging in some boxes in the basement. I was looking for a picture of me taken around 1986. I didn't find the picture, but I did find a memento that's slightly older. In fact, it's from 1968.

After my mom passed away we cleaned out the house. Each of us kids took the stuff my mom collected that had our names on it. While looking for the photograph, I found something I ended up with, something she saved.


This hand print had to have come from either school or church. I'm not sure which. I put a penny in the picture so you can see how little my hand was over 45 years ago...pretty small.

This little plate meant something to my mom (and possibly my dad for he was alive at the time...). And it means something to me. Not so much that I'll know how big my hand was--although, I find that interesting--but it means something to me because I know it meant something to her.

Whether or not it means something to my kids, only time will tell.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Loon...By Michaelbrent Collings

The Loon*

I don't read a lot of horror stories. Since I didn't read much in my youth I've spent the last few years trying to catch up on the classics. And there's so many classics out there. I've got a long way to go.

A few years ago I met the author Michaelbrent Collings and for some reason, he's been very nice to me. You can visit his website: HERE. The other day he sent out a message asking if anyone wanted to read his story, The Loon. It seems he had a few extra audio copies to interested readers, or listeners. I was too late to get a free copy, but I decided to go to and pick it up anyway.

I listened to the entire nine-hour audiobook in one day.

It's interesting to read a story by someone you know personally because, as the story unfolds, you are reading between the lines to psychoanalyze not the character's motivations, but the authors.

Like I said earlier, I don't read a lot of horror stories. I should have expected a scenario where no one--and I mean no one--is safe, but I kept thinking things might turn out differently (that's my faith in humanity kicking to lose that if I want to read more horror). I thought the way Collings blended horror and science fiction worked well for the story. The story could have worked with one terrifying monster--Collings gives us two. I should also include that the beginning of the book made me squirm...reading it as a dad was brutal!

In short, I liked it. I suppose time will tell if I will become a connoisseur of the genre. If so, The Loon has started me on the path, a path we all know, should not be traveled alone.

* Photo used without permission from Michaelbrent's website:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coming Home After Work...

Tonight as I drove home I realized I had not taken one single picture. This has become more and more the norm since things at work have been crazy.


In the past I would go outside for a break and find many interesting things to photograph. The difficult part was choosing one for my "Pic Of The Day."

But today I didn't want another picture of my cubicle (or half-cubicle...), or a picture of the standing-room-only bus ride home as my "Pic Of The Day," so after I arrived home and parked the car, I started taking pictures of whatever I could see.

I ended up on my deck snapping shots of the sunset and the infamous haze that's currently acting like a blanket on our whole valley. It's pretty gross.

I know I should leave my desk more often and check out my surroundings, both for my physical as well as mental health. Maybe I'm using the cold, or the haze as excuses not to go outside.

In fact, I think I'll give do just that tomorrow. But will I? I guess we'll find out tomorrow...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Chat At Sunset...A Short Story


The Weekly Writing Prompt

I have to be honest--the two pictures (for me...) really had nothing in common, but I suppose that makes for a better writing exercise. As always, it's a great way to stretch yourself as a writer so if you'd live to give it a shot, here are the rules:

1) Write a story using both photos.
2) Keep your word count to 500 words or less.
3) Submit your completed story to your blog hostess (Nicole, Carrie, Leanne, and Tena) via the inLinkz linky on their sites. (If you need a bit of help with this step, just leave a comment on their sites and they’ll get you linked up!)
4) You have the until next Tuesday to post.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow! 

Here's what I came up with. Enjoy!

 A Chat At Sunset

"Dad ever take you to a Cubs game?" Susan asked her sister, younger by five years.

"No," Nicole sighed. "Always said he would, though."

"I hear ya, sis. Sounds just like him." The siblings laughed as the watched the waves roll in as the sun set on the beach in Santa Cruz, California.

"He was so cheap!" Nicole said as the pair shared their favorite junk food. "The guy could squeeze blood out of a penny."

"I know! Man! How'd he ever survive the 80s?"

"I have no idea," Susan said as a perfectly proportioned man in his 20s ran passed, his obedient English Bull Terrier happily trotting along side.

"Look at that..." Susan whispered as man and dog continued running along the paved path that separated the bench on which the sisters sat and the sand reaching west into the rising tide.

"Yeah, and the guy's not too bad, either." Susan hit her sister's arm.

"Ouch! Thanks a lot!"

"Can you believe it's been five years since he died?" Nicole said, the tone of the conversation turned.

"Sometimes...but, then again, it's like yesterday he was around, ignoring our calls. I remember that one time. I was ten, so you would have been..."


"Right, Five. And he brought home those bikes he bought at K-Mart, I think. I remember because it was just before he left us and moved to Chicago."

"I think he was trying to buy us off."

"Pretty sure. And he never even watched us ride."

"I didn't even know how to ride."

"That's right! I remember you asked him to help you learn how, and he never did come outside even."

"I don't remember that," Nicole said. "But I do remember the bike. It was red, I think."

"They both were. I was so excited to get that bike, but after he left, I don't think I ever rode it again. It just sat in the garage at the Indianapolis house." The sisters took turns choosing their next nacho.

"Dad sure loved Chicago," Nicole said as another breeze from the sea softly rustled her artificially lightened hair.

"I don't think he ever left the city after he moved. I know he never left Illinois."

"You know," Nicole said grabbing another nacho. "I always felt kind of bad for him."

"Even after what he did to mom? And what about us?"

"I know, I know," Nicole said defensively. "But you know how he was and how mom was. There's no way those two could have stayed together. They'd have killed each was just a matter of time."

"Yeah, but I was so mad at him for leaving. I had to take care of you, and mom, especially after she started drinking more. You were still pretty young, but I remember so much of what happened. It's like he stole my childhood from me. I did a lot of growing up that year. "

"I still miss him." Nicole said.

"So do I."

Word Count: 496

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sherlock...A Show As Smart As Its Name


All right...I KNOW I'm late to the party (about 4 years late...) but I finally found Sherlock. Watching the BBC series has confirmed yet again that the British are willing to do something us Americans are not.

They'll sacrifice profits for the story.

I'm not saying that Sherlock won't be profitable. I'm sure it is, but if it were an American production, there'd be 20 episodes each year, just to satisfy what they perceive as our unending need for entertainment. And maybe that's true--maybe most Americans want their shows exactly like that. Personally, I'd rather have less of a better story than more of one not as good.

The British, however, seem to have a different perspective. I can cite several examples. The brilliance of Sherlock is that have basically made three feature films each year and they call it a season. They've bridged the gap between a television show and a movie.

Of course, I haven't said anything about the quality of the show. To its fans, I probably don't need to say anything--they already know. It is many things, but a show (or series...) with the name of Sherlock must be, above all, smart. This show definitely is.

 * Photo used without permission from:

Friday, January 24, 2014

To Sell A Great Car...

I was asked if I could take a couple of pictures of my mother-in-law's car and put it on KSL Classifieds so they could sell it. "No problem. I'm happy to do it." I drove over this afternoon and snapped a few pictures. We set up the KSL classified ad and you can access it: HERE.

The pictures don't do justice to the condition of this car. It has been kept in such an amazing state, it's hard to believe it's over 15 years old.

Yes, the miles are high, over 200K. Can't hide that. Then again, I don't think they should try. It's been a great car for my in-laws, never a major problem, the trusty V6 automatic has delivered them wherever they want to go.

I tried capturing just how great a car it's been for them in my shots. Maybe I succeeded--maybe not. I do know that whoever ends up with it will be glad they made the decision to buy, to choose it from all the other lat 1990s Ford Explorers out there.

You can tell the car's been loved. I think it loved them back.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Book Readings...What A Difference A Few Years Makes

Back in October 2011 I attended my first author reading at a real live book store. I had not planned on attending the official launch of Robinson Wells's Variant. I was with others and they were my ride.

I remember some of the words he said, but not all. I was impressed with him. He had overcome a lot of things, some most authors must overcome, and some not. More than his words, I remember how I felt. It had been a tough day. I attended a writers conference earlier where everywhere I turned people were getting contracts and setting publishing dates. It was my first conference as a "wanna be" writer. It was depressing. I wanted what everyone else had. And to top it off, I attended a book launch for someone I had never met. No offense to Mr. Wells, but the poor attitude was my had nothing to do with him.

What a difference a couple of years makes.

Tonight I went to my second launch at the same bookstore. In the months and years between signings I've grown up. Getting a couple of short stories has helped (I know I can get published...). I also know tonight's author and count him as a friend. I know a lot more about the industry and the hard work it takes to be able to stand in front of friends and relatives in a small room at the Kings English Bookstore on 15th East and 15th South in Salt Lake City and launch a book that bears your name.

Tonight I had a much better time because of the choices I made and the attitude I wanted to have. I had a much better time. I know if I want the successes others are enjoying, I've got to put in the work. That's the plan. Congratulations Mr. Jensen. You did great!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When It Snows Inside The Car...

My first car was a 1965 VW beetle. Anyone familiar with  rear-engine, air-cooled Volkswagens knows the vehicles had no heaters. Technically, there were heaters, but they barely worked.

We've come a long way since 1965. The old bugs are disappearing from our roads and heaters in cars work much better. One thing I don't think I ever ran into with the old bug was having condensation build up inside the car. This happens every now and again in the car I drive.

The other day I had to scrape the inside of the car which left snow on the dashboard. Another time I cleared the ice from the outside of the windshield and there was still ice on the window. After realizing I wasn't doing any good with more scraping, I finally noticed the ice was inside the car.

This is a temporary issue--it's really not big deal. In a few weeks the weather will warm up and I won't need to use the ice scraper, at least, until next year. In the mean time, I can teach my kids about how clouds are formed...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LTUE...Can't Wait!

Life, The Universe, & Everything: The Marion K. Doc Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy

A couple of years ago I attended a writer's conference known as LTUE, which stands for Life, The Universe, & Everything. I went with my teenage son and we had a blast!

To call LTUE a writer's conference doesn't do it justice. It's like a smorgasbord conference. There's so much going on, the guests, the readings, and the panels. You can check out the LTUE 31 website: HERE.

As of this blog posting, the panels and panelists have yet to be announced. When they are, I'll be writing more posts about this year's conference. They have released this year's special guests:

Blake Casselman

Michael Collings

Michaelbrent Collings

David Farland

Brian Hailes

L. E. Modesitt Jr.

James A. Owen

Brandon Sanderson

Anne Sowards

That's some big-time talent right there, not to mention the guest of honor:

Orson Scott Card

I've never met Mr. Card--don't know if I'm going to, but I do know, I'm going and I'm bringing a couple of kids, too. Hopefully they'll be able to have a great time, too.

So, check out the conference and if it's something you're interested in, sign up! And if you do and see me, come over and say, "Hi." It's going to be a blast!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marion Jensen's Almost Super...Is Almost Here!

When I started this odyssey of writing for, not only fun, but for profit also, one of the first real authors I met was Marion Jensen. He was part of a writer's group I wanted to join and the second time we met, he remembered our first meeting. It's a talent I need to work on.

Marion's a quiet guy, at least the Marion I know. He's not jumping up and down screaming, "Look at me! I'm an author!" He's probably using the energy others would use jumping up and down and screaming to think and ponder. He's doing brain "up and down jumps" instead.

Over the past year I've asked him how his latest project was coming along, and he's been able to tell me of its progress, which culminates in the book's release this week. You can order it through this link: HERE. I couldn't be happier for the guy. He's worked hard, honed his craft (while helping many, many others along the way...), and been a class act then entire time.

Congratulations Marion on the book launch and everything! May 2014 be your breakout year! 
(and I hope it's okay I lifted these photos off the internet. If not, just let me know...)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Me And The Countess On A Sunday Night...A Short Story



The pictures for this week's writing prompt are a little unusual. Of course, most times the pictures are unusual. I can't tell what kind of mood I'm in, as I set about to compose a short little story. Let's see what we come up with.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Wonder If My Mom Felt Old When She Did This 29 Years Ago...

We walked into the store famous for outfitting missionaries with all their missionary needs and suddenly, I felt old. Maybe I'm just feeling my actual age. Surrounded by hundreds of 2-pant suits and sport coats, ties, shirts and expensive shoes, we watched as a salesman picked out several beautiful suits and had my son try them on. It's been so long since my son owned a suit, probably six or seven years. We bought him a tweed sport coat a few years ago. He's worn it every Sunday and never complained once.

The store has everything a young man would need, a young man about to depart on a 24-month assignment, a calling to live away from home and try to bring the message of God to whomever is ready to hear it. It's quite an amazing commitment, an 18-year old leaving home, family and friends, to give his time and talents for others.

Entering that store and watching him try on suits brought it all back for me. I did the same thing 29 years ago, and my mom was with me, and I wonder if she felt the same things I did.

Did she look at me differently as I stood before her in never-before worn clothing? Did she imagine the incredible friendships he'll make, or the humbling hardships that come with the opportunity? Was she proud seeing both the man I was as well as a glimpse of the man I would someday become? Did the whole experience make her feel a little old?

Unfortunately, my mom's no longer with us for me to ask...just another thing I'd love to talk to her about if I had the chance. Well, at least my son will know how I feel. And in 20+ years, maybe he'll feel the same way, too.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Motivational Mail...

"What's this?" I asked my wife as I glanced through the mail.

"We got that in the mail today. I hope we're not the only ones who got it." The piece of mail came from the post office letting us know how much snow accumulation affects mail delivery as well as instructions on the proper way to clear the area around our mailbox.

I didn't think we were the only ones to receive this notice, especially since of all the mailboxes on the street, ours is the most free of snow. I made a point of using the snowblower in front of our mailbox after the last snowstorm.

The answer to my question came as I took the kids out this afternoon to do some D.I. shopping. We were NOT the only ones to get the flyer--everyone in my neighborhood did. And I know this because as we headed out for shopping many of my neighbors were busily clearing snow away from their mailboxes.

I guess this is one piece of "junk mail" that actually got results.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Clif...Thanks For The Memories!

January friend's birthday. I don't know why I remember the day so well. Maybe because it's the week after my wife's birthday (and, for the record, I remember her birthday every year, too--and I know why I remember that day...). Maybe I remember my friend's birthday because the first Gulf War began on this day in 1991, the same day he and I went to a Paul Simon concert in the old Salt Palace.

Maybe it's because my friend is such a quality person.

Yup...I'll go with that.


Thinking of him and thinking this would be the subject of tonight's blog post, I dusted off the old yearbook and took a trip down memory lane. This is a picture of the high school track team my senior year. It pretty much looks live every other track team picture in every other yearbook from 1984.

My friend, who's birthday is today, is the tall one sitting next to the guy with the great hair and the Hacky Sack t-shirt, which, by the way, I silkscreened myself in art class. Those were good days with good friends. My friend now lives in the Northwest, a great father, husband and friend.

Happy birthday, Clif! Stay solid!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An Object of Beauty...A Steve Martin Yarn


As I rode the bus to work this morning, I logged into my local library's website to see if there were any interesting audiobooks available. That's when I came across An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin. I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Since grad school I've been trying to immerse myself in the classics, with a scattering of science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk mixed in to make things more interesting. I have not read, nor have I kept up with other literature genres. I knew Mr. Martin is an author. I had not idea just how prolific he has been.

An Object of Beauty deals with the world of art auctions and dealers covering a 10-year period of time beginning in the 1990s. There are few subjects I know less about than the art scene in New York. The book did a good job of introducing me to this interesting world.

Steve Martin is an excellent writer, but the fact of who he is and his previous accomplishments kept creeping into the story and it was difficult to get those images and impressions out of my head as I read the book. I was able to read/listen to the entire book today.

 Perhaps the best thing I can say about the book is that, in my humble opinion, if he were not famous for being a comedian, actor, screenwriter, director, and musician, Steve Martin could make a very good living as a writer. I wonder when the next Steve Martin book will be available from the library because when it is, I'll be checking it out.

* Photo used without permission from:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

War Of Shadows...A Beginning

I woke up last night after about four hours of sleep and I had an idea rattling around in my head. It's been a while since I had an idea for a story keep me from sleeping. Here's a very rough draft of the first page.

War Of Shadows

            The message instructed the newly formed team to converge at a new location, a place unfamiliar to each member. Considering the fact that each entity in the group existed before the earth was formed, the odds of finding a place unvisited by five agents were astronomical. The group could, quite literally, meet anywhere on the planet. Without physical forms, nothing prevented the telestial aliens from traveling anywhere at any time. For a meeting like this to be announced, everyone knew this meant something big.
            Some of the agents worked together on past assignments. Others were known only by their well-earned reputations. The five, Micky, Slash, Jewels, Fox, and Tiny (not their real names, of course, but nicknames) represented the upper crust of field agents working today. Anyone speaking their names did so with respect to the abilities and talents of each one.
            Slash arrived first. Looking around, few things escaped the notice of the seasoned professional. Slash prided himself on his punctuality even though others respected his unyielding ruthlessness. Had he the ability to physically kill humans there would be no end to the carnage left in his wake, but since he possessed no tangible body, he did everything in his power to make life of every person he came into contact with as miserable as possible. Slash defined the word bad.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lawyers...I Must Ask, How Do You Do It?

Maybe I've read too many John Grisham books. Maybe I've watched too many TV shows. Maybe I'm just gullible. But from what I know, lawyers (as well as other professions...) they work insane hours, and I don't know how they do it.

Last week I worked overtime, perhaps the most overtime I've ever worked in my life. Back in college I sometimes had two, even three jobs and I probably worked more hours in a given week, but working different jobs I think helps the brain. It allows a person to manage the tasks at hand. I'm not expert, but it seems that way.

But working one job for 50, 60 or more hours in a week has really worn me out! And, this week there's more work than I can possibly complete. I'm looking at the same situation. I finally had a break last Saturday. The work was there, but I was beat. I couldn't do another full day so I only worked a couple of hours.

If lawyers really work 70, or 80 hours a week, I hope they're young and healthy. I can't think of any other way of getting it done without sacrificing their family and their health. But they do and--just like me--I'm sure there's always more work that needs doing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Buttons' Box...A Short Story

Photos by Carrie Sorensen

The Weekly Writing Prompt Returns!
For the past few weeks the Flash Fiction Writing Prompt has been on hiatus. This week marks the return of the little writing exercise and so, this post is another in a long line of blog posts where a few words centered around a photo, or a couple of photos, are written.

Anyone and everyone can participate! If you'd like to give it a shot, here are the rules:

1) Write a story using both photos.
2) Keep your word count to 500 words or less.
3) Submit your completed story to your blog hostess (Nicole, Carrie, Tena, or Leanne) via the inLinkz linky on their sites. (If you need a bit of help with this step, just leave a comment on their sites and they’ll get you linked up!)
4) You have the next week to post.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow! 
And so, here's what I came up with this week. Enjoy!
 Buttons' Box
"Yes, honey?" Stephanie's three-year old son interrupted his mother yet again as she tried her luck fulfilling her latest New Year's resolution--keeping the house clean.
"Can I go outside and play?"
"No, Jordan, it's too cold, and you've still got a sniffle." They boy confirmed the statement by sniffing as he dragged the sleeve of his arm across his nose.
"I know, mommie but I want to go and play. And I want to look for Buttons and see if he came home."
Stephanie stopped cleaning and turned from her son so he wouldn't see her cry. Every day for the last three weeks her son asked about Buttons, their cat, the same cat that disappeared just before Christmas. No one had seen the black and white calico, since he went missing. The family even put up "Lost" posters in the neighborhood in hopes the beloved pet could be found. In the days following his disappearance Stephanie dreaded driving close to their home. The thought of seeing Buttons dead on the side of the road made her physically ill.

And what do you tell a three-year old? She faced that decision every day for the past three weeks. "I think if Buttons were out there, he'd scratch the door like always," was all Stephanie could say. She returned to her task hoping the conversation had ended. She watched Jordan go to the window and she knew it hadn't.

"But mom, Button's feet are going to freeze. There's ice on the grass." Reluctantly Stephanie walked to the window and looked and the front lawn. His heart's so tender, she thought as she looked down on her son's blond hair.

"Hey," the distraught mother said. "How'd you like to help me out?" She needed to get her son to think of something else. "Can you take these stuffed animals and take them to your room?"

"Yeah, I guess," the boy said as he took the animals from his mother's hands. As he hit the stairs leading upstairs he turned. "If Buttons comes home, can you let me know?"

"You bet, baby. You going to go play in your room?"

"Yeah." The boy slowly rose up the stairs and Stephanie heard the door to his room close behind him.

Poor kid, she thought as she resumed her duties. The family was especially spoiled with Buttons. He was such a great cat and he loved Jordan--you could just tell. Just yesterday Jordan asked where Button's box was. The family brought the cat home the year before from the animal shelter in a large cardboard box that the boy would not allow the family to throw away. They retrieved the box from the basement and Jordan packed it into his room.

An hour passed since Jordan went upstairs. With her cleaning done Stephanie decided to check on the little guy. She opened the door to his room and this time, she let the tears flow freely.

Word Count: 496

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why Puzzles...Of The Jigsaw Variety?

If you've been paying attention to this blog since Christmas, you've seen "the puzzle." And if you've followed this blog for the past several months, you've seen many puzzles. Last year our youngest started putting together puzzles and he hasn't stopped. Knowing this, our family received a Christmas gift...The Coca Cola Christmas Puzzle.

Let's just say, it was tough.

On Christmas Day, in the afternoon we began our adventure. My son had been putting together 500 and 750 piece puzzles for a while. How hard can a 1500 piece puzzle be, anyway?

The answer--pretty hard.

It took a week and a half before we completed the border, something that's supposed to be easy. All of us from time to time worked on the thing, days, nights, afternoons. I noticed something interesting putting together this thing. Working on a puzzle is a community process. If you want to spend some quality time with another person or a group of people, I recommend a puzzle. You rely on each other, you build on others accomplishments. It's symbiotic.

As the last piece was found hiding under the dining room rug and fitted in place, we all cheered. It's been said many times. "Why do we climb a mountain?" And the answer is, of course, "Because it's there." Why did we do this puzzle? 

Because we thought it would be easier to put together.