Nineteen clues and my first symmetrical crossword puzzle.
I'm patting myself on the back, it feels like such an accomplishment!
What's the big deal? The black squares. If you were to flip the puzzle, the placement and number of the black squares on the top half mirror the placement and number of black squares on the bottom half.
Making the blocks symmetrical makes it more difficult to develop clues. Especially where two or three words run alongside or across one another ... like with clues three down, and four and seven across.
I've made word search puzzles and wanted to try the symmetrical crossword, but always gave up before getting too far. My mum loves a crossword puzzle, so this one's for her.
I hope you'll try it. Let me know if do, and I'll make another one.
You can download and print the puzzle (a one page sheet with the clues and answers(!) by clicking on the crossword image above).
Yesterday I became the reluctant fixer when the hose on the back of the dryer disconnected. I couldn’t get it reconnected and it started a string of lefty-loosey, righty-tighty missteps, YouTube videos, and a trip to the hardware store where a patient and far-more knowledgeable expert put and end to my cycle of frustration.
Are you handy?
Most of the time I would say I am. But truth be told, it depends when you ask.
Yesterday when I was in the middle of trying to attach that hose, I would have answered with a resounding no. Today, basking in the satisfaction of a job well-done (well, done anyway), I’m more likely to say yes.
It’s a truth most of us can relate to. Doing something for the first time comes with unique challenges:
The key of course of course is pushing through.
Though I wanted to give up, and nearly did, I knew it wasn’t an impossible task. Connecting a vent hose requires minimal tools and supplies ... there’s no rewiring of electricity or other element involved that would best be left to a professional. But I couldn't do it alone.
It took seven YouTube videos, two hours of trial and error, and two trips to two different hardware stores before I figured out what was missing and found what I needed:
A missing element and some guidance.
It also meant letting go. Of a quick fix, of all I had planned for the morning, of perfection, and frustration.
Though I won’t been installing dryer vent hoses on a regular basis, it’s a good, and constant, reminder that while there can be a quick fix here and there, it’s not the rule.
We’re better served, it seems, to recognize things will take more time and effort than expected. That frustration is part of the deal, and a little help from an expert goes a long way.
That even though what we’re trying to accomplish may not always be easy or fun, what we’re left is increased confidence, a bit more know-how, and a deep sigh of satisfaction.
The ideas weren't flowing. I was struggling with what to offer in the map entry for the April playbook. I considered making a map of lighthouses in the state, places I had visited, or things I notice in the neighborhood on my morning walks. But none of it clicked.
Setting it all aside for a while gave me the distance and insight I needed.
I don't remember what I was doing, but the idea came to me when I was working on something else: Maine has a surprising number of map resources. Start there.
Rather than a map of a place, I'd make an information map ... of map resources in Maine.
Working small: thumbnail sketches and an eraser
And as I do with most ideas, I started with a thumbnail sketch.
In one of my first graphic design classes, I was taught to make thumbnail sketches. Small-scale drawings of an idea. It's a handy tool for visualizing posters and book covers. It works for professional projects and your hobbies, too. You can sketch and list what you need to get started. You could map out what you've done and where you want to go.
And it prompts new ideas.
My vision for the map is a hand-drawn poster. There's more information to add and I'm still working through the layout and how to connect it all. Dotted lines? Arrows?
I'll post the final version and you can compare the thumbnail with the finished piece.
Do use thumbnail sketches or some other tool to organize your thoughts and ideas?
More entries in This State of Mine. Have you seen them?
Is it time to shuffle off?
I started tap dance lessons last fall, and I’m not sure I want to continue. I do love the shoes, but the lessons? I'm frustrated. The decision now is, how do I move forward? Will I move forward?
Starting a new hobby is an exciting adventure. But it can also be rife with doubt, confusion, and questions.
• What does it cost to get started?
• Are you willing (or able) to make the investment?
• Can (and will) you commit the time it will take to master, create, or perform whatever it is?
And what about that learning curve? Is it relatively low? If it’s steep, will you be able to push through the frustration of being a beginner?
I never dreamed of being a tap dancer, so I was surprised when the listing for “Tap Dance: Beginner” caught my eye. The schedule was good (Saturday mornings from 10:00 - 11:00), and the price was reasonable: $12/lesson for drop-in, less if you sign up for the full eight week session. And shoes. Prices start at $25, though for beginners in the class I was starting, smooth-soled shoes are acceptable.
But I wanted the shoes.
It took three orders on Amazon to get a pair that fit properly and I was ready.
I was dizzy after the first class, excited after the second, and felt doubt creeping in after the third. The fourth was the best. We learned some new steps and the routine at the end brought things together nicely. I felt like I was starting to get it.
And then there was the fifth class.
We start each class with warm-up exercises, a review of steps we’ve already learned, and the introduction of new steps. The second half hour is when it all comes together in a short routine. Or should.
It was tough. The routine was too complex for this beginner. I couldn’t remember the order of the steps, I missed the beat (more than once), and found myself making simple steps just to stay in line with the other dancers. I was discouraged.
And the next class wasn’t much better. Or the next.
So I'm asking myself, "Is tap dance right for me?" I don’t know.
What I do know is that I'm not alone. Starting a new hobby can be frustrating. When things get tough, do we stick it out, or let it go?
The answer, I think, can only be found by asking ourselves the right questions.
Do you have the right tools?
The right teacher?
Have you done the prep or practice that’s required to improve?
Do you care about this enough to keep going?
Is there something else you’d rather be doing?
Is it worth another try?
Is tap dance for me? I don’t know.
I'm trying to answer the questions honestly. Am I practicing enough between classes? No. Is it worth another try? Yes.
I'm not sure if I'm in the right class, so I’ve decided to look for another. I’m also looking at online lessons to boost my practice because I’m not ready to give up.
I really like the shoes.