Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"In puzzling, there is no substitute for victory."


Another Christmas has come and gone, and once again my clan made ourselves nuts with a beserko puzzle of 2000 pieces and much playing of games: Bootlegger, Tichu, Mille Bornes, and Foose Ball.

Another Christmas -- much frenzy -- and then as the Goo Goo Dolls sang, "here is gone."


The "crack head" puzzle we worked this year has an interesting origin.

Pam, a good friend of mine and a reader of my blog [double bonus!!!] read on my blog last year about how my family loves to spend our Christmas holidays hovering over a table laden with puzzle pieces and working them until they are finished, no matter how hard or frustrating  -- sometimes sweating and fussing over the puzzle into the "wee" hours of the night.

Our determination to complete them, no matter the level of complexity, borders on a type of family madness.

What is the reward for being so demented?

Bleary eyed daylight hours?
Swearing not to " work any more puzzles" evah?
Muttering under our breath: "I can't work that thing. I can't work that thing."
Avoidance of the room and the people poised in combat over the cardboard cutout pieces for the puzzle of the moment?


Those vows and proclamations rarely last as our competitive spirit and "victory taps" --the finding of pieces that someone else "had been looking for -- for hours"---- is too in bred.


Note: "Victory taps" are my brother-in-law Ralph's placement of a piece into the puzzle. He says it's to make sure it fits; we all know it is a delicate but definitive noise to alert the rest of the puzzle workers that he has been successful at putting in a piece.

*tap, tap*

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I came home to a sweet surprise. On my front porch, left by UPS or some other courier, is a package addressed to me from Pam. Inside this package is a puzzle --- a 2000 piece puzzle of the most popular tourist attraction in Germany, Neuschwanstein. {My nephew-in-law David --who is from Germany and currently he and my niece are living there --  told my brother Hunter that no one from Germany goes to this castle; my brother, therefore, summed up that it was "the Graceland of Germany" -- bwha}.

How thoughtful and sweet it was of Pam to buy this for my family to work, but man! the puzzle was hard. Of the 2000 pieces, approximately 1500 were snow, trees, snow on trees, or sky. Fun. Fun. Fun. Except not.


For almost five days, we put that crazy puzzle together -- we moaned and groaned, felt frustrated and slightly demented, as we struggled with that "beast" of a puzzle.


We had strategic approaches to its completion [thanks to the "engineers" that run amok in our family} : we sorted the pieces by color, by shape, by "maybe these go together." We paced ourselves, changed shifts, and vowed to not "overdose" on its difficulty. Sometimes we stared at it and wished for a piece to find its place. Hours. We stared and tried to will the darn thing together [or at least, I did...].


We approached it with "process of elimination" {Angie style} as we checked out every possibility for a piece to and stacked the "look alikes" together so as not to try them again.


We strategized. We categorized. We compartmentalized. We divided and conquered.

We took on that puzzle like the puzzle nerds/conquerors we are -- eat our dust -- Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, William the Conqueror, or Douglas MacArthur.

We took this puzzle down [one piece at a time!}

We did not capitulate.

We rose to the occasion.

We were victorious!

*holds up fingers in victory sign*

Wasn't it MacArthur who said, "In puzzling, there is no substitute for victory"?

  the last 100 or so...

 the final "victory taps"

 some of those who worked it ----

 a close up

Thank you, Pam, for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of..... fun. :)

After we finished the 2000 piece monster, the 'phews and news picked out a 500 piece one to work. My sister-in-law Sally texted Angie and Paul who were not around for the end game, and what did they say? --- "'Bout time."

Here were some of the comments on the 500 piece puzzles they worked next:

Bryan: "This is so easy.'
Chapman: "It's like puzzle little league."
Stephen: "Ridiculously simple."
 Margaret: *claps*"My kind of puzzle."
Hunter: "Eh."
Andrew: "Is this for real? It feels like cheating."
Me: "Puzzle Spark Notes."
Ken: "Wait till next year."

*tap, tap*


  1. C'mon! You guys had at least a little fun, right? ...right?

    Love seeing the progress made through pictures!
    I take certain pride in knowing that I've helped you all be of the opinion that a 500 piece puzzle is now like Puzzle Little League. ;P

  2. Wow, I am impressed! Love the pictures. Do you leave them together or do you break them up again and put them back in the box?? I always love visiting here :-)

  3. Hey! I'm on your blog roll! Thank you. You are on mine too. Tee hee!

  4. What fun! A great idea to have a family project like this over the holidays...we have done a few puzzles together...but I am not sure we have done one over Christmas.

    Thanks for the lovely comments. You made my day. You know, I was actually pondering whether I should close down the Moonboat. Since I post only once a week and can't always get around to other blogs while in seminary, the numbers of visitors has been way down. Understandably!

    Your comments came just after I had decided to continue with at least a post a week. It was an affirmation, a confirmation! I hope to have a post up at the beginning of each week. Sunday night or Monday.

    A new one is up today!