Call of the Sea

Call of the Sea
Call of the Sea by Josephine Wall – Anatolian – 260 pieces

This gorgeous image by Josephine Wall was thoroughly entertaining, more than a little bit of a challenge, and wonderful quality – in short – the perfect puzzle at the perfect time.

It’s been a while since I’ve assembled an Anatolian puzzle, and it was my first of their smaller piece counts. The pieces were lovely to hold, a good thickness and fit together beautifully. You can see from the picture above that the image reproduction is excellent; the colors were lovely, and even where the details in the artwork seem to blur into one another the actual image is crisp and clear.

I’ve done only a handful of images by Josephine Wall; I find the artwork to be dazzling, exquisite, pretty, pleasing to the eye and a host of other words that fail me at the moment. But for me, and only for me, they’re not always what I’m looking for in a puzzle image. It’s always so different for each and every puzzler, we all have something specific that we are or aren’t looking for.

I’ve learned that gorgeous pictures don’t always make for entertaining puzzles. I can love to look at something, appreciate it’s balance, color, motif, etc. – but know that if it were cut up into little pieces that it wouldn’t be fun for me to put back together. It’s something you get a feel for the more puzzles you assemble, and you find what images you most enjoy putting together.

After many, many, many puzzles I am still learning. Sometimes a puzzle that wouldn’t normally catch my eye makes for a fantastically entertaining assembly and I find myself surprised by it. Mom used to buy puzzles at the thrift store that I would never have gotten for myself; and I found myself shocked at how enjoyable they were. The opposite can also be true; I purchase an image that I’m in love with, only to find that the actual assembly was disappointing for me.

Josephine Wall creates stunningly beautiful works of art; but they’re not always the easiest to assemble as puzzles. Call of the Sea is gorgeous, and I consider myself lucky to have found it in a smaller piece count that brought down the level of difficulty. I didn’t want too much of a challenge with this one, so I went for the tiny piece count – I’m a chicken of the sea! 🤣

100 Birds Pay Homage to the Phoenix

100 Birds
100 Birds Pay Homage to the Phoenix – Hartmaze – 253 pieces

This post has been guest written by my oldest son. He asked if he could write up a guest post about this puzzle that he and I (mostly him) assembled on mom’s birthday last month. I couldn’t say no; he took the day off work for her birthday to spend the day doing things she loved, to honor her. He’s a very special man, and I’m unbelievably proud to be his mom. 💗

He’s a movie buff/nerd/geek, and knows more about movies than most people will ever know, including his ol’ mom. This post has much more movie talk than my readers are used to, but it’s how his brain works, so I’m leaving his words exactly as written. They’re for his Meema, and movies are something they shared together and part of who he is.

Enjoy the musings of my baby boy…

Howdy, name’s Dj. I’m the eldest son of the lady what runs this blog. I have my own blog as well, though it’s about my collection of Blu-rays and DVDs (which needs to be updated, I have a lot of new stuff to add and it’s been sitting there for a while not getting added…), and you may know about it from a memorial I made for my late grandmother, who not only loved jigsaw puzzles, but played a major role in my appreciation of film and, as a person and film fan, a major part of who I am.

Her birthday was not too long ago, and I had requested the day off work so I could do things to honor my grandmother. I had three things in particular I wanted to do, in no particular order: watch “The Last of the Mohicans”, do a jigsaw puzzle, and go to a restaurant she liked to go to. The last one had to be scuttled on account of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but I can do the other two at home, so there is that.

I originally wanted to do a New Super Mario Bros. puzzle, but I couldn’t find it anywhere in the house, and I believe it may have fallen somewhere into the Twilight Zone, probably where that kid from that one episode sends people who tick him off. So instead, I did this puzzle, which I got for my grandmother as a Christmas gift in 2018. She and my mother and I actually worked together on it on Christmas Day and finished it; and it was a pain when three people were doing it together. Now I was doing it mostly alone.

I had all day to do this puzzle. It took nearly all day to do this puzzle. I got a tray out, puzzle out, and put “The Last of the Mohicans” in a Blu-ray player and had it on in the background while I worked on the puzzle; and when that movie finished, “Dances with Wolves”. There’s a reason for those two movies, as you will see. Sometimes I’d take a break to think about how the puzzle pieces I had would fit while watching the movie, or to just watch the movie itself.

The puzzle itself was just as much of a pain as I remember it being two years ago. My strategy was to start with the phoenix tails and work from there, since those are easily identifiable pieces due to their color and their patterns; and then building up the rest of its body while occasionally looking out for other pieces and patterns that matched up. That last one is not as fun because there are a LOT of birds in this puzzle and it can be tricky to figure out what goes where. Finding edge pieces isn’t easy on this one because it’s not a proper circular shape; it has little ridges and bumps all along the edges so that without careful study, you won’t know if it’s an edge or not, so you may look at a piece and think it’s not an edge, but nope, it is.

Most of my time on the puzzle was staring at pieces and going “…Alright, where the hell do YOU go?”, because even with a piece of paper showing the whole image of the puzzle (and on the back, where all the puzzle pieces fit together – but considering how the pieces are, it’s as useful as putting a screen door on a submarine), it’s still a pain to figure out what goes where. There’s so, SO much red, but also a lot of colors that are arranged in such a way that it can all blur together unless you really focus on distinct shapes and such. It’s still a fun challenge, although it’s probably better to do it with someone else rather than do it solo, unless you’re a god-tier jigsaw puzzle person, which I am not.

I guess I should talk about the movies then, because while the puzzle is and was fun (mostly), the movies were a part of this. As I mentioned before, I had “The Last of the Mohicans” on, then the extended special edition of “Dances with Wolves”. (Yes, there is a longer cut of the movie) I picked those two movies because, as I wrote in the memorial on my blog, I always associated two kinds of movies with my grandmother, and one of them was the big historical epics we got in the 1990s. “Dances with Wolves”, “The Last of the Mohicans”, “Braveheart”, that sort of thing.

(I listened to Braveheart’s soundtrack while writing that memorial, and I’m listening to it now as I write this. She loved that soundtrack and it’s easy to see why. It’s one of the finest movie soundtracks out there in my opinion, and probably the magnum opus of the late James Horner.)

I like “The Last of the Mohicans”, even if it’s a contrast to the rest of the director’s work. Michael Mann usually does urban crime dramas like “Thief”, “Manhunter”, “Heat”, Collateral”, that Miami Vice film we don’t talk about, etc., so seeing him doing a historical epic set before the Revolutionary War is weird. It’s like if Martin Scorsese did a Victorian-era romance. (And yes, I know that film does exist. “The Age of Innocence”, for the curious.) Mom doesn’t care much for the movie, but I like it. It has a good atmosphere to it, which is helped by the director’s attention to detail. There’s some beautiful cinematography and landscapes in the film, including a shot with a bridge over a river and its reflection is perfectly mirrored, probably one of the most beautiful and picturesque shots I’ve seen in anything. And the music’s your standard historical epic fare, little repetitive in the motifs but still quite good, though a little forgettable compared to “Dances with Wolves” and “Braveheart” and (although it’s not from the 1990s) “Gladiator”. It’s a solid film, maybe not the most memorable of the 90’s historical epics, but still enjoyable.

As for “Dances with Wolves” … well, it’s the movie that created the modern historical epic as we know it, and all the big epics that came out during the rest of the 1990s owe their existence to it in some fashion. I think even today, if you watch a historical epic, you can still see a little bit of this movie’s DNA in it. The film is a classic, with a lot of good that’s going for it. It has that classic epic feel to it, helped by the landscapes that really evoke the American frontier. It’s got an awesome soundtrack by John Barry (most famous for doing most of the James Bond scores from 1963 to 1985), as well as a much better depiction of Native Americans than what you saw in a lot of media at the time … even if everyone’s speaking female-gendered Lakota, according to the late Russell Means. And for the the most part, it holds up well and has earned its place in film history for reviving big epic films and the Western genre. Although it’s not without its hiccups. Kevin Costner’s narration in this film is weird to me and honestly, it’s less tolerable to me than Harrison Ford’s narration in the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, and someone’s gonna call me a heretic for that, I swear. It also bugs me how the soldiers near the end of the film are really just caricatures who seem more appropriate for a cartoon than a serious drama like this.

100 Birds 1

Oh, right, puzzle. This is a puzzle blog, right, I should talk puzzle. I did a good chunk of the puzzle on my own, but mom helped with some it, especially for the last hour or so. We actually finished the puzzle, with me putting the last piece in, right as the credits for “Dances with Wolves” ended. Overall, I enjoyed this puzzle, even if it was a pain to do on my own for most of the time. It was nice to take time out and do this as a way of honoring the memory of someone who meant more to me and my family than could ever be expressed in words.

We still love you, Meema. And we still miss you.

Call of the Sea In Progress

Call of the Sea IP
Call of the Sea by Josephine Wall – Anatolian – 260 pieces

I have been having some real difficultly with my meds lately, and until 11 o’clock last night hadn’t touched a new puzzle since I finished Quilts last week. It only came off the board yesterday, it had been sitting there all weekend. If you knew me you’d know that’s weird; I finish a puzzle, take my pictures, make sure they’re good, and immediately disassemble the puzzle and decide on a new one.

But thankfully I finally got myself out of bed last night when hubby was blissfully snoring and sleep eluded me. I was just going to sit in the living room and watch tv, but ended up being drawn to my puzzle board.

I chose a puzzle with fewer pieces than normal, this beautiful Josephine Wall image is only 260 pieces. It’s the best of both worlds for me; it’s a smaller piece count so that even if I have to spend much less time in my puzzle chair I can still make good progress, and it’s a Jo Wall, so it isn’t so easy as to be boring – my mind will still be active and engaged.

Working on anything fun today? I’d love to hear about it!

Mother’s Day Puzzle Giveaway

Spectacular Peacock by Aimee Stewart – Wentworth – 240 pieces

In honor of my spectacular mother – who gave me life, unlimited and unwavering unconditional love, treasured friendship, a love for jigsaw puzzles and so much more – I am holding this giveaway for Spectacular Peacock, a beautiful 240 piece shaped Wentworth Wooden Puzzle.

My mother and I loved to assemble puzzles together much more than we enjoyed assembling them on our own. Even though putting together a puzzle by yourself gives you some quiet reflective time to de-stress and relax, we enjoyed spending time together talking, laughing, and puzzling; we could spend entire days having the time of our lives with just a few puzzles and each other.

When I started treating myself to some wooden puzzles, she fell in love with them too; we would marvel over the intricate shapes, show each other when we made a connection, and discuss the fantastic quality. I will never forget the months we spent assembling the mystery puzzle box of vintage wooden puzzle pieces that I gave her for Christmas the year before she passed; she told me it was the best present she’d ever received in her life, and we both had the best time assembling that giant 100 year old puzzle and spending extra time with each other. They are cherished memories that will be with me the rest of my life. 💗

So,to bring a little more joy into my life this first Mother’s Day without her – and in honor of her love of Aimee Stewart images and wonderfully made wooden puzzles – I’m giving away this beautiful, gently used wooden jigsaw puzzle. It’s a little challenging, even at only 240 pieces; it’s shaped, so starting with the edges is more difficult than you might think, and it includes several beautiful whimsies of flowers, peacocks, and more. I adored assembling it (even though I was in the hospital at the time), and I hope the winner enjoys it just as much. If you’d like to see the completed puzzle, you can click here to see my original post.

They say if you want to feel better you should do something for others, and I think “they” might be right. When I made the decision to give this puzzle away for Mother’s Day to honor her I immediately started to smile just thinking about how happy it would make someone to win it. And it made me happy too!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post (if you need something to say, I’d be honored to hear about your own mom.) Each comment will be given a number, and I will use a random number generator to determine the winner one week from today on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, 2020. This is open to all puzzle lovers, no matter where you live. Good luck!

For my momma – my puzzle posse, my best friend in the world. 💝

100 Birds Pay Homage to the Phoenix

100 Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix
100 Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix – Hartmaze – 253 pieces

My son gave this puzzle to my mom as a Christmas present, and the three of us assembled it on Christmas Day. We found out that it is so much more difficult assembling an intricately cut puzzle with no whimsy pieces, but we had a great time working together to assemble it anyway. It is really lovely quality for only a $25 wooden puzzle, and I was thoroughly impressed!

100 Birds back

I’ve only ever found Hartmaze puzzles on Amazon, and they only seem to carry a few different images to choose from. But I found the quality to be excellent, and I would definitely love to assemble more.

There’s a self-imposed puzzle buying ban at My Jigsaw Journal for the moment, but eventually I’m sure I’ll be buying one of my own. 🙂