By Kepper Petzing | Contributing Writer
Pandemic Puzzle Passion
The daughter of a professional chess player, Sonya Kaidanov has always known that playing games are in her genes. When the pandemic began, she found it was jigsaw puzzles that became her passion. “Puzzles helped me thrive while inside. I would do eight puzzles monthly.”
Tired of spending money on new puzzles and wanting to share her puzzle joy, she was inspired to begin a puzzle library exchange in August 2022. She found a free cabinet at Rerun Thrift Store on Fremont Street and installed the puzzle library on her porch. Visitors borrow and return her puzzles like they would books at a library, and sometimes leave their puzzles for others to try. Her puzzle library has at least two visitors each day, sometimes more. She encourages people to come as often as they can.
Kaidanov estimates she owns 100 puzzles. With so many puzzles, she is happy for people to take multiple puzzles, even if they don’t have one to give in return. Although her sign says, “Puzzle Swap”, Kaidanov clarifies; “I want people to take more puzzles. Sometimes people look, don’t take anything, and it bums me out.”
Her passion is working with kids, so Kaidanov wants the puzzle library to cater to them. Easier puzzles for children occupy the right side of her cabinet while more complex puzzles are on the left. Visitors of all ages and puzzle abilities are welcome to come and look over the offerings. “I put in new puzzles almost daily.”
A few months ago, she was googling Portland puzzle meet-ups and made an amazing discovery: an official Portland Puzzle Exchange. The Portland, Oregon Jigsaw Puzzle Trading Cooperative started in 2006 and now meets monthly to puzzle and trade on the first Saturday of the month from 11–1 at the Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 NE Knott St. More information about the Portland Puzzle Exchange can be found at portlandpuzzles.org.
Kaidanov is completing her Masters in School Counseling. “In my future office, I will have a puzzle out on my puzzle board for kids and then one for me to do on my lunch break.” When we get overwhelmed, she says, puzzles require a focus that can help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s a brain workout that is self-competitive, not competitive with others. Plus, it’s fun. She appreciates the satisfaction and pride that comes from completing a challenge and “seeing what I can do alone.”
In addition to the puzzle library, Kaidanov has a TikTok account at @ThePuzzleAddict and an Instagram account @TheAddictedPuzzler, with hopes of getting free puzzles!
Kaidanov hails from Lexington, Kentucky, moved to Portland in 2013 and has lived in Concordia for five years. Her other hobbies include dogs, chess, piano, gardening and embroidery. She is a native Russian speaker and would love to meet neighbors to speak Russian with. You can visit her puzzle swap at 3031 NE Rosa Parks Way.
Kepper Petzing has lived in Concordia for 40 years, where, with their partner Lowen, they raised two children. They are nonbinary. They love community and are grateful for Concordia News.