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Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Puzzling

Our jigsaw puzzles take us in various interesting directions and through all sorts of family activities. We have been putting together lots of interesting scenes since last February when I posted about the puzzles my mom likes to start and that I like to help with.

Here is the puzzle we were working on when I posted last—we finished it the last day of February. It is a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. I don’t know when this production was done, but it doesn’t matter. I love the birds, and you can almost hear Papagano singing. Too bad we can’t see Papagana waiting in the wings for her cue.
In March we put together this puzzle from my brother Allen. It makes me think of the Napa Valley where another of my brothers lives. He says the balloons are stunning when they all rise at once and float around the valley. These horses make me think of my sister and my childhood friends. When we were young we used to pretend that we were horses. Or else we would pretend that we owned some. In fact, each of us had a list of the horses we owned in our imaginary stables, and the older sister of one of our friends took the time and trouble to make a booklet for each of us with pictures drawn to our specifications of each horse, with its name and everything about it on each page of the booklet. What an amazing friend!

In April my mother selected this seasonal puzzle with all its birds and the watering can to get us in the mood for gardening. I was really getting into doing these puzzles, but I forgot this was supposed to be an activity for my mother, and she was just a little bit unhappy with how many of the birds I put together, and the fact that she had been thinking she would have a good time doing that watering can and nested pots—but I had them done before she could turn around! Oops.

The next puzzle we did was this one, and it was very, very hard. We both worked and worked on it, and we came near to giving up and putting it away before we finished, but somehow it got my dander up and I decided I wouldn’t quit until it was done. I didn’t even like it very much when it was done, but Mom did, so I’m glad I persevered. When I think about doing it now, I remember sitting in her room at her table between her recliner and the tv, listening to her tv shows as I sought puzzle pieces to put in. I ended up having to sort pieces by shape, and then try them row by row. It was a very tedious process.

The next puzzle she selected we did in June, and it went very quickly. It is this beautiful quilt that won all sorts of prizes. This is, in fact, only a part of the entire quilt. It was pretty easy to do because we could separate all the pieces into the colors that belonged to each quilt block. I made sure to let my mother do all the squares she really liked! Too bad when we were done we discovered that a corner piece was missing. We started this puzzle in her room, but then we moved it out to the living room to do it there when I started painting bedrooms.

We also did this pretty egg puzzle in the living room on the table that was there while I was painting. All the furniture in the bedrooms was distributed around the rest of the house. This puzzle proved to be a quite a challenge—so many of the eggs seemed the same, or with minor variations, and those straw flowers were everywhere. We should have been doing this around Easter time, I thought.

I was glad when my mother decided on a scenery puzzle in July. We put this one downstairs in the library and had all the pieces out on the trays around the little table. This is a big puzzle! Mom got tired of the puzzles around this time and did not want to work on this one much. I did the trees and sky and encouraged her to do the bluejay and the rooster, but she wouldn’t do them for weeks. Finally when my niece came, she coaxed Grammy into finishing the puzzle with her the first week of August.

I finished all the house painting and did not think we would continue puzzles for a while. But then Mom wanted to figure out a way to put up a puzzle upstairs without it being in her room, and so my husband and I brought up the game table from downstairs and rearranged the family room furniture to have the puzzle in the center of things. We started this puzzle, and I put together the sky. Mom did the little buildings in the foreground. I like the scene, reminding me of the New England locations in the genealogical research done by my great-grandfather that I was transcribing. And with the puzzle in the center of things, other family members began to put in pieces here and there. It became a group effort and was much more fun. We finished it in mid-September.

Then Mom brought out a round puzzle, a kaleidoscope of peacock feathers. It was incredibly hard! She gave up on it. I almost gave up with her, but then I decided that somehow I was going to complete the border of that puzzle or die trying. I got it, but immediately I tore it apart and put it back in the box! We all agreed the puzzle was destined for the charity box.

This was our next puzzle that we finished. Mom picked it out, but then she found that she couldn’t concentrate and had a lot of trouble working on it. I put together the trees and encouraged her to try the stagecoach, and the woman in dark blue and the women in the background. I did the little white cat. Then I did the inn. And I did the horses. Others helped with this puzzle too. Finally my mother tried the wheels of the coach, but she was not successful. She decided she didn’t like it. Somebody else put together the man and woman standing in front of the horses. When the puzzle was done, there was a piece missing from the bricks of the building. I had been delaying the vacuuming for a week in hopes it would turn up. Then I was going to empty the vacuum cleaner bag out onto a newspaper to sift through the contents and see if it had been sucked in already. Mom found it a couple days later and was happy to finish the puzzle.

I thought she wouldn’t bring out another puzzle for a while, but she brought out this charming shoemaker’s shop scene and decided I should start it. I dumped it out and left it for a week before trying to start on the border. It was very hard at first. It got easier as I progressed, and I again began to encourage my mother to help. She didn’t seem to want to. She kept resisting until I had it all done except the window in the center. I told everybody I was leaving that for Mom to do. She tried it one day and declared she couldn’t. But then she did it the next day and was dissatisfied with how long it had taken her to do. I told her it was a hard puzzle and that it only got easier and faster when you had done enough to get into the rhythm, and I think she was actually glad she had done it.

She has another puzzle out waiting for me to put this latest one away. It’s a group of kittens, cute as can be. I think we will start it over the Thanksgiving holidays.

One of the things I am thankful for this year is doing puzzles with my mom. 

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