Let’s talk about life’s frustrations.  Here is one that hobbyists can relate to–especially if you do jigsaw puzzles.  You know how when you’re doing a jigsaw puzzle, you come down to the end and you discover that there’s a piece missing.  It is pretty frustrating and makes you doubt everything.  Those are terrible days.

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Fear not for I offer important news.  While walking to the library, I found it.  Contact me and I will send it to you.  If you find my other sock from the dryer, I hope you will be as kind.****

***I wrote a very similar piece for my other blog.  I apologize to anyone who is kind enough to subscribe to both of them.



Revisiting Puzzle Agony

Though I swore to myself I would not do another jigsaw puzzle, that’s exactly what I did

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What cruel circumstances led to this? Well, it is a combination of forgetful ambition and the words of a parent who seemed eager to do the puzzle.

The forgetful optimism allowed me to forget the agony of the last puzzle and think “Hey! A puzzle would be fun!” The words of my Mom made me think that she would like to do a puzzle together to, in her words, “keep me sharp.”  Well, she took one look at the pieces and said, “There really small.”  I guess that is what I get by buying the puzzle at the Dollar Tree.  I certainly wasn’t expecting perfection, I just hoped it wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.

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In the end, it wasn’t terrible and I finished it rather quickly. Despite not containing trains or train tracks or similar stuff, it was a pretty nice picture.  Now all I have to do is find somebody who wants it.

The JIgsaw Puzzle From Hell

PEI and Puzzle 012

Perhaps buying a jigsaw puzzle from the dollar store was not the best idea.  Though, I have done it before and not really suffered from it.  I figure, I am only going to do the puzzle once and then give it away to someone, so why spend a lot of money on something that I am not going to keep.  For my $1.25 (plus tax) I have usually gotten some decent 500 piece puzzles.

This time, however, was no picnic.  Maybe I should have taken note of the 1000 piece puzzle size.  While this is challenging, I don’t usually think of it as daunting.

What was so hard, you ask?  Was it 1000 pieces of blue sky?  No, that wasn’t the problem.  Instead I will list the sins.PEI and Puzzle 013

  • The puzzle pieces were vertical instead of horizontal.
  • There were images on the picture that were not shown on the box art. These were around the edges.
  • These two facts convince me that someone didn’t size the puzzle onto the board correctly before cutting–but I could be wrong. However, there must be a reason the thing showed up on the dollar store shelves.
  • Many of the pieces fit together (despite obviously being incorrect). I had to disassemble and reassemble complete sections that seemed correct, but somehow weren’t–including one area just before I finished.
  • I was unable to create a boarder to assemble the puzzle because there were just too many possibilities with the blue sky at the top.
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I really should have heeded this warning.

I am glad I finished the puzzle, but now I am completely burnt out and don’t anticipate doing another one for quite a long while.  I have one from the same company, and although it is only 500 pieces, I think I will give it away rather than tackle it.

Now my reward–motivation was key in getting this puzzle done.

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My Reward–Yum!

Nothing But Blue Sky

I do indeed like doing puzzles, but they often come to the same conclusion.  I quickly assemble the edges (Sheldon Cooper would be so proud), and sort the sky, sky and land, and land parts.  Then I assemble the edges where the sky and land meet.  Then I fill in the land parts.

Then I am left with the sky.

The Blue sky.
As you can see, I might have left the daunting part for last.  Actually, there is no “might” about it.  I have left the most daunting part last.  If not for clouds and sky gradation, I would have to try each piece in each part.  No, that’s not true. I would have to try half the parts (the vertical versus the horizontal parts) in each spot.

As for this puzzle, also another dollar store find, it was of much better quality than the last one.  It was a little more challenging to assemble, but that is probably a good thing.  I also appreciated being able to use the box bottom as a sorting tray–something I was not able to do in the last puzzle.

I think this is my last puzzle for the foreseeable future–but who knows.

A Quick Puzzle Before Christmas

Despite being the king (oops, I meant jack) of all hobbies, I have to admit, I haven ‘t done a lot of hobby related things lately.  I could blame the weather, or I could blame myself and the fall TV schedule.  Either way, I haven’t had a lot to write about.

I have been writing my other blog, whose links you can find on the right side of this page under the title “cool blogs”.  Mine is called Today’s Perfect Moment.  I have been putting a lot of energy there and have grown a rather large community in a short time.  There seems to be a lot more cross blogging done there and the page is set up to encourage followers.


While I haven’t done a lot, I have done some things.  Most recently, I got the itch to do a puzzle.  Maybe it is because I associate puzzles with Christmas.  I am surprised that no one gives these things as stocking stuffers anymore.  Knowing how addicting that can be, I really wasn’t in the mood to tackle a monster 5000 piece puzzle.  I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  What was my answer…the dollar store of course.

I found a couple of decent puzzles at the dollar store (Dollar Tree in this case) and purchased them for $1.25 each.  Even with Canadian tax, that still brought in two puzzles for less than $3.

I spent a couple of nights on the first one.  There seems to be no deterioration in my puzzle building skills and I was able to do it rather quickly.  Of course, that first night, I did the usual “just one more piece before I go to bed” thing, and wound up spending a hour or more when I should have been sleeping.  This probably was to the detriment of my students but I didn’t actually yawn while teaching.

The puzzle wasn’t the best quality.  The fit was a little loose and it came apart a couple of times.  Some pieces still had untrimmed edges (there seemed to be extra paper at the bottom layer of some of the pieces) and one was a little crumpled.  However, it only cost $1.25, so I can’t get tremendously angry about that.

When I lived in Japan, I bought frames and puzzle glue for the puzzles.  However, these days, now that I have finished, I will probably take it apart and give it to someone else to do.


When I tell people I have a lot of hobbies they mostly ask what they are and leave it at that.  The more adventurous ones might wonder how I can afford it.  Funny though, no one wonders where I keep it all.

I have written a couple of blogs about storage, but that’s common to all hobbyists.  We’ve all got tools and supplies and various other equipment.  It takes up space, but most of that is “out of the way” or stuffed into a closet.  There is always room for that stuff.  What nobody really stops to consider is what do you do with the finished products.

If you have a hobby that results in some finished product, you might want to display it.  In some cases you’ve got to display it.  Sure, you can give some of it away–some people do crafts that turn into Christmas presents.  But, how many times do your family and friends want that stuff?  If it is a quilt, you probably don’t mind having six or seven of them, but how many wool sweaters do you want?  How many hooked rugs do you need?  How many paint by numbers can adorn your walls?

Okay, some of these crafts are beautiful.  Hence the reason I wrote that you’ve got to display them.  Sometimes these crafts are so integral to your life that everyone expects to see them on display at your house.  No problem there.

I, Jack of all hobbies, however, have so many hobbies, and do not often produce things of display quality.  What do I do then?

Limits.  I have limits.  There are only so many of one thing that I can have before it needs to get pared down.  If I make a good car model, it usually displaces a model I am less happy with (though some parts end up in the parts box for that diorama I am going to do someday).  I’ve only go so much shelf space, and the better models make the bad ones look rather poor.

New magazines displace old ones–or more likely, deluxe editions of books put out by these magazine publishers displace the magazines.  Realizing that they had me paying twice, I read the magazines at the library and only buy the books….but this is a topic for another day.

Train stuff….well, I can always make more room for train stuff.  I am into N scale, and that doesn’t really take up  a lot of room…..besides, you’ve got to have priorities, and you’ve got to rationalize.

Take my latest puzzle.  I did it because I liked trains.  I thought about putting it up over in the room where there will be a train…but then I realized that wall space was at a premium, and I had already done a couple of other train puzzles that I thought were better than this one.  So what could I do?  Despite my pack rat nature, I am going to pass this puzzle off to someone else who will have to figure out what to do with it once they are done.

Thoughts on puzzles

Puzzles are not everyone’s favourite hobby, but I always find time to do a few a year.  The fact that trains are often featured in puzzles is a bonus.  I wouldn’t call it killing two birds with one stone.  That’s silly.  I would call it synergistic….but that’s probably because I was an English major and I need to utilize that expensive (albeit subsidized by the government) vocabulary.

standard assembly…edges first
Puzzles are a pretty solitary hobby with me.  I have known others who treat it as a family activity, but that isn’t the case with me.  Perhaps it’s selfish.  Either way, the best thing about puzzles is that you can easily see your progress, and more often than not, you do reach completion–which is not always the case with my other hobbies.

If I am lucky, I can put it in a place where the cat won’t disturb it and work on it from time to time.  I don’t usually put in big chunks of time unless I get sucked in by fitting lots of pieces, or because I should go to bed…and I keep telling myself, “just one more piece.”  In these cases, I seem to devote a lot more time to it.

I am a typical puzzle maker….I think.  I start by assembling the edges first.  That seems logical, but I wonder…is there someone out there who starts in the middle and works their way to the edges?  That would be pretty cool to see.

assembling the train is a priority
Since most of my puzzles feature trains, the train gets assembled first.  The worst thing is that I am usually left with sky, and lots of it.  This isn’t bad if you’re doing the puzzle under natural light, but under a light bulb differentiating light blue from lighter blue isn’t so easy.  This latest puzzle was rather odd in that I got the sky done before the mountains.  No complaints, but it just isn’t the way things have been going lately.

not just sky left…this time
I happy it is done, and I won’t be doing another puzzle until September or later….It’s funny how I think I can plan these things, when I know that’s not true.  I’ll do a puzzle when my fancy strikes me, not when I plan it.  I could have a hundred other projects before I see another puzzle.