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Winter Puzzling 2023 – First Piece

Winter is essentially over which means it is time to bring you my annual winter puzzling story.  If you have read my previous posts, you know that I typically start sometime in December and then continue through the end of January, the National Puzzle Month.  And this year was no exception as I started my puzzle season just a few days before the official beginning of winter, thanks to our granddaughter.

Once she got out of school for her Christmas break, my wife and I got to spend extra time with her while her mom and dad worked.  One of the things she loves to do is to go roller skating and we got a chance to do that with her several times.  Another of her favorite activities is having a sleepover at Mimi’s house.

Since the skate rink didn’t open until 1:00 PM, we had some time at home.  After playing dolls with Mimi for a while, I suggested we start a puzzle.  She readily agreed as she has enjoyed pitching in to help in years past.

For our first puzzle, we chose one that I had received from my siblings that they had previously worked, a collage of “Love” stamps.  Sorting out the edge pieces is always a challenge as I don’t think I have ever successfully found them all before starting assembly.  With my granddaughter’s help and with a couple of her dolls looking on, we tried a different approach by sorting the 1,000 pieces from the box bottom to the box top culling out the edge pieces as we went.

Thinking we had them all, we began to build the puzzle frame from the edge pieces.  We soon learned we must have missed some in the sorting process and so laid out the rest of the pieces into the four drawers and onto the work surface.  With several of the stamps having unique colors, we began to assemble those with easily identifiable color schemes first.

This puzzle proved exceptionally suited for the three of us to work on simultaneously.  We each picked a stamp, and then worked on it occasionally coming across a piece that someone else needed.  It wasn’t long before we had fairly well assembled almost a third of the 27 different stamp.

In fact, our granddaughter had such a good time, that she asked us not to work on it without her, which we agreed to do.  So, it wasn’t until Christmas Eve when our granddaughter and her little brother came over after breakfast that we returned to puzzling.  Throughout the day one or more of us worked on it and by the time their parents came to pick them up, we had made significant progress.

Christmas morning when I came in early to take a photo of our progress from the day before, I got an added present when I found the last edge piece and the day after Christmas, my wife and I managed to get the puzzle finished.

We both agreed this was a really fun puzzle to assemble as the individual stamps made it seem like small puzzles, individual vignettes within the bigger puzzle.  It also made it easy for multiple people to work on the puzzle at the same time as each person could focus on a single stamp.  My wife and I both found that we would easily lose track of time getting into the “zone” of puzzling and be amazed when we checked the clock to realize how many hours we had been working.

Having had that much fun with the first puzzle, I selected for our second puzzle another one that had individual themes within the bigger puzzle.  This one, also on loan from my siblings, featured images from the 1950s that us baby boomers, easily recognized.  An added bonus on this puzzle was that the border had a unique design so identifying edge pieces became an easy task while sorting the pieces.  As a result, we had the entire puzzle frame complete before starting to assemble individual themes, a rare occurrence.

My wife and I worked on this one off and on over the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  Our granddaughter came over to spend the day with us on a rainy January 2nd.  What better weather than to stay indoors and work a puzzle?  And our granddaughter proved her puzzling expertise once again finding numerous pieces my wife and I had failed to locate.

It wasn’t long before she was putting in the last piece.

For our third puzzle of the season, my wife suggested we work a puzzle she had been given of a vintage display of butterflies.  Since my remaining puzzles were all car-themed which, I knew she would not be interested in, I readily agreed.  While she was out of town, I sorted out the pieces into drawers and on our work surface.

     To be continued…

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