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#IAMAPUZZLER Stories

My wife and I have always been puzzlers, and in the 17 years that we have been together, we have literally done over 1000.

Keith W.
Brownstown, MI

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My wife and I have always been puzzlers, and in the 17 years that we have been together, we have literally done over 1000.  We have everything ranging from hundreds of flat puzzles that hang in our house, to hundreds of ones that we have given away as gifts, to hundreds more wrebbit 3D puzzles that are all over.  I also have 15 puzzles framed and hanging in my classroom as well.

What I think that makes us unique is how we have done the panoramics.  We have taken your panoramic series in particular, and bought every one of a location that we have been to.  Niagara Falls, Toronto, Las Vegas, Tower Bridge, Eiffel Tower, St. Louis, all the Chicago's, Washington D.C., and a poster of the Detroit Skyline by the same artist (we're from Detroit, and always wanted it as a puzzle!).  We also have all the NYC ones as well, although it is the only place that neither my wife nor I has ever been too.  As you will see if the pictures, we have simply framed them on door mirrors, which we think makes them look fantastic.  We have made 20-30 of these for friends and relatives as gifts as well.

I do want to apologize in advance for the lighting in the pictures.  We also have so many around the house that quite honestly we have forgotten which ones exactly are Buffalo Games ones, but I can attest that we have always marveled at the high quality of your puzzles.

Thank you again for your time,

Keith and Mary W.

 

As a child, I used to spend a week every summer at my grandparents' farm. Very often, we would work on jigsaw puzzles together.

Paul B.
Aurora, IL 

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Favorite place to puzzle: Today I have a dedicated puzzle room, but when I was younger, we would pull out card tables and work on them wherever the lighting was best.

People to puzzle with: Family - my grandparents, my mother, my sisters, my wife, and now my kids. 

Puzzling memory: As a child, I used to spend a week every summer at my grandparents' farm. Very often, we would work on jigsaw puzzles together. During one particular summer, we made our usual trip to the store, and I picked out the puzzle we would work on for the week: a 1,000 piece owl puzzle. It was nothing special, really. Rather plain. But it was the best of the store's limited selection.

For the next week, we tackled it. Grandma would sit next to me, often remarking that she couldn't keep up with me. Grandpa would stand, hovering over the puzzle, a piece in hand as he attempted to find the perfect fit. It's one of those memories I'll never forget - a quiet moment between me and two of my dearest loved ones. There have been countless times that I have wished to escape back to that time, that place.

What I never could have guessed is that that summer would be the last I would ever spend on the farm with my grandparents. My grandfather had a stroke shortly thereafter and never recovered. My grandmother would pass away a few years later. 

I would acquire the owl puzzle amongst other mementos and tokens of their lives. The puzzle was really an afterthought. I was the member of the family who most enjoyed puzzles, so my parents gave it to me. Battered and outdated, it assumed a position at the back of my puzzle shelf, a drab contrast to the many flashier and more challenging puzzles I had acquired since.

Years passed, and then one day, I pulled it out. I can't remember why. I really didn't know what to expect - whether it would be a fun experience or just a boring rehash of something I'd already done once before. But I retrieved the owl and scattered its pieces on my puzzle table, ready to give it one more try.

The pieces were almost entirely comprised of brown feathers. Looked pretty monotonous. Pretty boring. I considered boxing it right back up and moving on to a more interesting puzzle. I lazily dragged a finger through the pieces, haphazardly hunting for edges. 

As I sifted through the owl's many pieces, I noticed that many of them were still joined together. There were pairs and threes and larger masses. Sections of the owl's face and wings remained intact. They had remained fixed for twenty years, since the summer I had first purchased and completed the owl. And then it struck me. The last hands to have touched the pieces I now cradled in my hands had been my grandparents'.

In that moment, I was connected to them again. Twenty years disappeared in a heartbeat, and vibrant memories stole my mind - of Grandma playfully chiding me for stealing her piece, or Grandpa, with his bad eyes, asking, "Does that fit?" over and over and over when his pieces clearly did not. 

I sat back and gazed on the owl. So many memories, preserved in those cardboard pieces. I absolutely knew I would never be able to try the owl again.  Gently, carefully, I gathered the pieces back into the box and placed the owl upon its shelf where it remains to this day. It's sentimental and perhaps a bit silly, but as long as it remains unperturbed, I feel like a trace of that last summer with my grandparents survives.

Secret puzzle strategy: Edges first!  Then in easier puzzles (1,000 or less), do whatever looks the most fun. No sense making a chore out of it. For really hard puzzles, I like to lay out all the pieces, (or groups of them by color or pattern) then orient them all in the same direction. Sometimes I'll even group them by puzzle shape, if there's a lot of trial-and-error involved. 

Your puzzle quirks (or other things to tell us): These days I don't bother with anything under 1,000 pieces. I've gone up to 3,000 without much trouble, but I hit the wall with a 5,000 piece. I just don't have the room.

I don't care for gimmicky puzzles (double sided, impossible patterns, solid colors, etc.). I've done them all, but I don't find them very enjoyable. I want to work on a landscape or scene that is breath-taking.

Nothing irritates me more than bad lighting. I prefer an overhead light on a swivel arm that I can move around so that the glare never interferes with my puzzling. 

Some talking's okay, but I prefer sharing music. It's a great time to introduce a friend or family member to a favorite album.

Warning: if we're doing a puzzle together and you start on the middle without first completing the edges, I'm going to have to kick you out :-)

Thanks for the chance to share my love of puzzling!

Regards,

Paul B.