Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online


December 4 , 2001

When I got up this morning at 10 minutes to 5, the weather seemed unusually mild. I called to check, and the temperature was 34 degrees, considerably warmer than last Tuesday at this time. It was enough to make me miss my absent neighbor and occasional walking partner, who was out of town again. I say occasional because since the cold weather set in, he has walked with me exactly one time. A big fellow and former Marine, he doesn't want to come across as a cold-weather wimp; but the night before he left, he came over to say goodbye, and he was wearing enough clothes to withstand winter at the South Pole, even if he never went indoors.

My neighbor also influences my behavior. With him away, I didn't stop for my usual coffee and pastry. I walked one solid hour and returned home without consuming one calorie. Now don't misunderstand me: I'm sure when I'm not around he lives on carrots and water. There are no extra calories on him. It's just that he makes me walk so fast, that I just have to stop for coffee and a pastry!

One thing about walking alone is that your mind really gets to think about all kinds of silly things.

My wife and I spent the weekend in Taos in our condo. On the way into town, we spotted a toy store sign and decided to stop, to try to find a Christmas present for one of our nephews. We didn't see anything that we thought he would want, but while looking around I saw some jigsaw puzzles, and ended buying one for us. Well, what a mistake that was.

The puzzle was one of those thousand-piece jobs. It showed a mountain man standing in a forest. When finished it would cover an area of 20 by 27 inches. We put the pieces on the coffee table in our guest bedroom. Even though in our entire marriage of 32 years Linda and I never have worked on a puzzle, we knew the basic rule: Do the outside border first. Easier said than done. For anyone who has never tried to put a puzzle together, just finding the pieces that make up the border is an ordeal.

Three grueling hours later we had the border together, except for a couple of pieces we couldn't find. We were sure they had been left out of the box. That accomplishment called for a martini, so I put a couple together for Linda and me. We sat make down to discuss what to do next.

After several big swallows of my martini, I decided my plan of attack was to start with the mountain man's head and work down. My wife, on the other hand, decided to try to put together the pieces to a stream that ran through the forest. She must have been drinking her martini faster than I.

After another two hours I managed to put about eight pieces of the man's head together. By then I had consumed an additional martini. My neck was stiff, and my head was starting to ache. It might have been the martinis, but I really think it was the puzzle! Linda, meanwhile, had managed to assemble about 15 pieces of the stream. Somehow the stream seemed to me to be running in the wrong direction. I didn’t know what was affecting me—the martinis or my wife’s accomplishment.


We finally gave up on the puzzle up for the night, and didn't get around to doing anything with it the next day. When we got ready to come home Sunday, there was the puzzle on the coffee table, in the way of any guests we might want to invite to spend the night.

Linda decided that I needed to get some kind of board to slip the puzzle onto when we came back, so that all the work we had put into the darn thing wouldn't be wasted. As if we would someday finish the *#*#*!!??#* THING!

Continuing on my walk, I wondered how could I be so stupid as to create this nightmare for myself! What in the heck was I thinking? What kind of insane mind does this to itself? It isn't that I don't already have enough headaches to contend with.

I guess that deep in my mind, I too must have thought that someday we just might try again to put that silly puzzle together. Even as I was cussing myself out for creating this ridiculous problem, I was wondering where I could find the board to slide the puzzle onto when we go back to Taos. Maybe we’ll finish it one of these days.

Have a great day.

Stan

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