As the season’s nights grow longer and darker and the days are crisp, sometimes bone-chilling,  I revert to my old habit of pulling out the jigsaw puzzles I’ve accumulated over numerous years.   For some crazy reason, I really enjoy sorting the 1,000 puzzle pieces by color and shape and figuring out where each piece of the puzzle goes.  I’m perfectly content for hours working on  a puzzle.

So, out comes the card table and fold-up chairs, the puzzle boxes, and extra lamps.  It’s puzzle time for me.   If I have an extra large puzzle, I move to the family room, where a 6-foot table is available to lay out all the puzzle pieces.  Last week I chose a 1,000-piece puzzle that barely fits on our long oak campaign table sitting in the family room.  The puzzle is a scene of an open field of blue and green areas which are extra large.  It will provide puzzling times for me, but the people and colorful hot air balloons will be a breeze.

I can wile away hours piecing puzzle pieces together.  I’m no good at Sudoku, but I do love jigsaw puzzles and the simpler crosswords.  The New York Times crossword puzzles stump me each week, but they stretch my mind.  And one of my favorite games is Mexican Train to play with soon-to-be-frustrated dinner guests.  We’ve played into the wee hours of the morning with one couple who ended up spending the night in our guest room.  Upon waking, the ever-competitive Dan wanted a rematch!

In addition to puzzles, I love reading most genres of books except horror or science fiction.  Mysteries and WW2 novels get my imagination soaring.  Leon Uris’ captivating novels of EXODUS or MILA18 are fabulous.   Later, Daniel Silva’s tales captured my interest.  His favorite character is a noted art restorer and member of the Israeli intelligence/spy agency.

It seems that fewer people are reading.  Our teenagers are too busy with texting on their phones and searching the Internet on their computers.  That lack of reading shows up in the loss of vocabulary in folk’s conversations.  All too often I hear unintelligible utterances such as “whatever, awesome, ahhhhhhh.”  What’s happened to scintillating conversations punctuated with dictionary look-up words and a handy Roget’s Thesaurus?  We’ve gotten used to computers suggesting words to use as well as different punctuation marks that it likes to insert.  Trust me, that electronic genius machine is NOT always right!  For example, my computer does not decipher the different uses of there, their and they’re.  Sometimes it mistakes my use of to, too, and two.  And what about a/ an, lay/lie?  Oh, well, I suppose few people would recognize the various uses of same-sounding words, homonyms…

Neighborhood girlfriends have been playing bridge, the perfect card game, for over 30 years.  We meet every other Wednesday afternoon.  Bridge was the tell-all time for us moms when we had teenage kids.  Each of us learned about their supposedly secret escapades from information imparted by other bridge-playing mom.  It felt so good to be on top of the news our kids thought was known to only a few.  Someone’s kid always broke their silence.  Of course, a sinfully decadent dessert is required of each bridge gathering by the rotating hostesses.  We need chocolate to think clearly.

When each of us had children who were still crawling or were not yet in school, our family gatherings put together Where’s Waldo puzzles, and we played Chutes and Ladders, Dominos or Clue.  When the kids got older, we graduated to Sequence, chess, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly.

Oh, the games people play.  It’s fine family fun.  We’re actually TALKING to each other.  No one is on their computers; a few answer their cell phones.  We’re having fun COMMUNICATING together with games.