Kung Foo Sudoku

Unless it happens to be your weekend, there’s not much to look forward to about Mondays.

Rainy Days and Mondays -- actually, I like rainy days. Break in the Weather, available as a print or original, by Steve Henderson

The best thing I find about the day is the end of it, when I sit down to the newspaper, toss the sports section (this gives you an idea of what kind of “team player” I am), and, hands trembling with excitement, reach for the TV guide section.

As we don’t have TV service and have contentedly been in this state for 30 years, it’s not because I’m looking to plan the rest of my week around a pathetic group of attractive women debasing themselves to finagle a date with a narcissistic male who is being paid to live every narcissistic male’s fantasy island.

No, it’s the Sudoku puzzle.

Our little town’s little newspaper features this once a week, and while I know that I can pick up a whole book of the frustrating squares for a dollar, I have established an amiable sense of personal tradition by launching my week with this particular brainteaser. At the very least, I start Monday morning by saying to myself, “If I can make it to the end of the day, I can Sudoku!”

I know. It sounds pathetic to me, too.

Added to my anticipation is the challenge of actually finishing the thing, which I am impelled to do because my brother, 30 miles away, does this so smoothly and easily, every week. I however, do not, not only because Monday’s offering is sadistically difficult (if you don’t think so, please don’t write and tell me), but also because I rarely can find the paper it’s printed on once I temporarily set it down.

While I don't necessarily Climb Every Mountain and Ford Every Sea (or is it Stream?), I am up to a challenge now and then, like the Sudoku puzzle. Ascension by Steve Henderson

Usually, the TV section starts Tuesday morning’s wood stove fire. Other times, it’s the dust pan of choice for the kitchen floor’s sweepings. If we had dead fish randomly lounging around the counter, only this section would do for wrapping them in. It’s not until you want to keep a section of the paper around do you realize how many uses there are for it.

Last night, the TV tabloid just plain disappeared, not necessarily surprising since the Toddler was spending the night, and all sorts of things disappear when she’s around.

“Here it is!” the Son and Heir brought it upstairs. “This one must have been really hard; I see that you colored in a bunch of the squares and scribbled over the rest.”

Well, it looks like the Toddler found a pen at the same time that she found the puzzle. I had no idea that a two-year-old could color so well and completely between the lines, but if it weren’t for the numbers, I’d swear that this was a crossword. What an amazing child.

Amazing or not, at the moment she’s frustrating, because this one time out of many I was actually succeeding, and looked forward to casually mentioning to my smug brother, “Oh, yes, I completed the Sudoku puzzle. Easily.”

“She probably did you a favor,” the Son and Heir observed. “It looks like you were struggling.”

Much thought and contemplation goes into each and every Sudoku puzzle, whether or not I finish it. Contemplation by Steve Henderson

No, this is what the puzzle looks like when I’m succeeding.

When I’m failing I wrap tulip bulbs in the tabloid and stuff the whole thing out in the garage.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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8 Responses to Kung Foo Sudoku

  1. Sadistically difficult? I completely agree. Being usually pretty good with both puzzles and numbers I thought I’d take to it. So far I haven’t finished a single one. Try, try again, then stop, don’t make a fool of yourself, we always say. My congratulations on being able to do these. I no longer try, for the same reason I don’t watch “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.” I don’t want to know. I stand firm on my irresolution.

    • Oddly, I find Sudoku relaxing, but NOT crossword puzzles, which my mother adores.

      I agree with you about that Fifth Grader book, and I hope they don’t come out with something of an even earlier grade. I know I passed kindergarten with flying colors.

  2. oldswimmer says:

    Wow…you mean there are more of us out there?

    Re Sudoku vis a vis ART: I finally got hip to a few sudoku tips when my daughter in law gave me a sudoku block calendar from 2009 that she had never even opened. This was what kept my mind from going completely flaccid while being sick over the recent months…that book of 365 puzzles was waste-able– I mean when I came to a dead stop and didn’t want to mess around with it any more, I simply crossed it off, tore it out and began another one, no guilt at all.

    I’m getting better at them now…I have an online program Sudoku Kingdom that I use before drifting off to sleep at night. It has easy, medium, hard, and very hard ones to select from, and I’ve done four very hards so far. I quit starting at easy, but when I get frustrated with hard, I go back to medium for a morale builder.

    You know, the availability of endless sudokus and its effect on my progress with this kind of puzzle, is EXACTLY akin to the availability of endless paper that blessed my life when I was raising my kids in a household supported by a printing bindery specialist. The waste paper from that job was wealth to a mom, and an art teacher…and there are so many kids who benefited from that stash. And I benefited from it. I love to recycle old “duds” done on paper, and give them nice swipes with a wide brush full of acrylic gesso and clip them again to my easel. These grounded papers have yielded a lot of keepers Perfect for starting out a series with a live model…you can use charcoal, pastel, ink, acrylic, oil, or all of the above on such a surface, and you have no resistance at all to making your marks on this already primed paper.

    Puzzles are like paintings in many other ways…like, where does this really belong? Is it in the wrong place? If I put it here, how does that affect the rest of the elements? Yes?

  3. I always feel mildly guilty when I give up on a Sudoku puzzle, or when I’ve totally messed up on a bunch of numbers and can’t fix it (I do it in pen). But I’m getting over that. I’ve discovered that once I throw one away and start on a new one, I forget about the old one!

    All the paper is a blessing indeed! For awhile we had access to large bound paper tablets, and we’ve used them for everything from clothes pattern drafting to art workshop classes.

    And yes, puzzles are like paintings in many ways, and we’re always asking ourselves whether this fits, or not, and why or why not?

  4. Anya says:

    Oh the difficulty of finding something once you set it down…I end up shoving things in my pockets, hanging them on my shoulder, and stuffing them under my belt just so that I don’t lost them. As long as something is on my person, there’s a chance I might find it 🙂

    • Because I wear glasses, I try to keep those special lens cleaning cloths around — generally in my pockets, but not in every pocket, and I don’t always transfer them from one pair of pants to the next. The result is that I can never find a lens cloth when I need it, like now, with frustrating little spots of dust on my glasses!

  5. tom weinkle says:


    Great story. i tell myself that sudoku is too easy, and that is why I can’t spend two hours solving one simple puzzle.


  6. Love it, Tom. Makes me feel better about the three hours I’ve got invested into the one I’m working on now!

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