We’ll start off the year of living photographically with a picture of my lovely wife. If you know her, I bet you can practically hear her laughing when you see this.
Tagged With: Hobbies
I’ve been busy with my reading list lately, getting through some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. I started reading Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy, just before Christmas and finished it in early January. I enjoyed it quite a bit, although some of the characters were more likeable than others. After that I tackled The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It isn’t an easy book to read but I think it’s an important book, all the more so as we have politicians who clearly admire the Soviet Union at or near the top of a presidential race. This is only the first of three volumes and I have put off volume two for a little while, but it’s waiting for me when I can handle it. I took a little break by reading Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh, which is an enjoyable book and justly popular. I’m currently working my way into Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which looks to be a bit harder and will certainly take me into February.
For Christmas, 2010, Cathy gave me a new camera. It was a Canon 60D to replace the 10D that I had been using since 2003. On January 1, 2010 I decided to try my hand at something a co-worker had been doing. It was called Project 365 and the idea was to take at least one photo each day for a year. I posted those photos on Facebook and managed to establish a (very) small but loyal following. At the end of the year I set up this blog and continued taking at least one photo a day. I’ve been doing that for ten years now and I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment.
I have decided that as of today, I will no longer be taking a photo a day. I still expect to take my camera with me when I’m out and I still plan to take pictures, just without the pressure. I figure 3,652 consecutive days and over 180,000 photos is enough. So, some days there will be photos and other days there won’t. To my small but loyal band of followers, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you all.
The first photo in this project (see Saturday, January 1, 2011) was of Cathy and I thought it appropriate that I end ten years with another of her. Yes, we’ve both aged a bit in ten years, but we’re still here. God bless you all.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I have been putting together puzzles lately. The first one we’ve done recently was started at the beach over the summer but wasn’t completed. We rolled it up then and it’s been in that state since then. We finished that a while back and put out this as our next. I was pretty challenging. Nevertheless, we made continual progress on it and finally finished it this evening. It’s a 1,000 piece puzzle.
Our family is in the “you don’t look at the box” camp. Yes, that makes the puzzle somewhat harder (and sometimes considerably harder). But it also gives more satisfaction and gratification when the puzzle is eventually completed. I know we were all pretty pleased with ourselves when we finished this one. We have put it away and put out our next one, which promises to be at least as hard. It’s also larger, with 1,500 pieces.
After the Dahlia puzzle (see Friday, January 20, 2023) we decided to put out a new one. This time it’s a picture of painted mandala stones. At a glance Cathy and I thought they were Murano (Venetian) Glass Paperweights but looking a little closer, they clearly are not glass. Ravensburger’s title for the 1,500 piece puzzle is simply “One Dot at a Time.” This turned out to be even harder than the Dahlia puzzle. We’d go for long stretches without finding any pieces and then we’d get a bunch all together. Each stone became a separate entity, although a few of them were similar enough that it was sometimes hard to know to which a certain piece belonged. Especially without the box to look at (because that would be cheating).
As mentioned, we’ve been doing puzzles recently. We started one with a photo of succulent plants while at the beach last summer and finally got around to unrolling it and finishing it early this year. The next one, the 1,000 piece Dahlia Puzzle (Friday, January 20, 2023) was considerably harder. Then we did the larger, 1,500 piece Mandala Stone Puzzle (Monday, February 6, 2023). We didn’t exactly plan for each puzzle to be harder than the one before but this one, although only 1,000 pieces, was considerably harder than any of the preceding three. It’s a photo of a tapestry called “Garden of Delight” made by William Morris (March 24, 1834 – October 3, 1896). He was, according to the bio on the box, “a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.” There were times when we despaired of ever finishing it, but, eventually we did. There were times when I basically picked up every piece and tried it in every available spot until I found where it went or put it aside and went on to the next piece, starting over once I had been through all the pieces. In that way, eventually, it came together.
We finished another puzzle in the last couple days. This one was much, much easier than the previous couple. That’s not to say it was simple, but nothing like the Dahlia, Mandala Stone, or especially the William Morris, “Garden of Delight” puzzle. Some of the proverbs or idioms in the puzzle are obvious. Others are either obscure or were unfamiliar to us. Nevertheless, we enjoyed trying to make sense of the illustrations. As is usual in a large puzzle, the large areas of sky with little to differentiate them was the last to get finished. Next up is a scene of Venice, which will be a little more challenging than this one, I think.
We completed another puzzle this week. I’m not sure where we got this one—illustrating “Great Events of the Bible”—but it’s been in our basement a while without ever being put together. It was a relatively easy puzzle, compared to others we’ve done lately. That’s partly because there is text scattered around and any piece with text on it is easy to orient. With some puzzles it’s very difficult to know which way many of the pieces sit. There also are no large areas of similar color in this one, as there are with images with large amounts of sky, etc. Still, it was fun putting it together. Next we will work on puzzle with a view of Venice, Italy.
Our most recent puzzle adventure was this scene from Venice. As you might imagine, the clouds and sky were the most difficult part, and took us a while after the buildings had been completed and the water in the foreground got filled in. But, as it usually the case, giving it a little attention each day, finding one piece now and then, eventually it got finished. We have two more puzzles on-deck and will start the first of those shortly. We find it mentally stimulating and something we can easily do easily while chatting.
It’s time for another installment of Henry and Cathy’s puzzle collection. This one looked nice so I bought it and we finished putting it together a couple days ago. The water in the foreground and the sky were the most challenging parts, which isn’t too surprising. The stern of the ship and parts of the rigging were done first (after the edges, of course, which are almost always finished before much else has been done.
We don’t absolutely always have a puzzle going, but lately we’ve tried to. We’re running out of them, though, with only a few more on hand, so I’m not sure what we’ll do after that. We also like crossword puzzles, sometimes doing them together but more often, separately. We have crossword puzzle books, published by Simon and Schuster and The New York Times. For quite a while now, my mom has saved the puzzles from the Washington Post and gives them to me, so I work through those. They are generally a bit easier than the other two sources and I actually do them in pen (and sometimes without actually making mistakes, although certainly not all the time).
We started this puzzle at the beach. It’s a used puzzle that mom bought. Buying a used puzzle is always a bit of a risk because a missing piece can be so frustrating. As it turned out, there was one piece missing, but of course we didn’t know that until the rest of the puzzle was done.
Last year at the beach we got two large sheets of felt. We put the puzzle together on one of them and when our week at the beach was up we put the other piece of felt over the partially complete puzzle, rolled it up, and put it in a heavy, cardboard tube. That works reasonably well and we unrolled it here without too much fixing to be done. This puzzle in particular was poorly made and the pieces didn’t really stay together very well, but that had more to do with the puzzle than with rolling it up. I’d also put the puzzle on the yellow felt instead of black in the future, because the black made it hard to see where pieces had not been placed. At home, we have a large (4′ by 4′) piece of MDF that sits on a card table and the beige color is generally good as a background.
Another issue with this puzzle, especially while we were at the beach, was that there wasn’t room to put most of the pieces out on the table. So, about half the pieces were still in the box, meaning we’d rifle through the pieces in the box looking for a particular piece. Not idea. Once we got it home, we were able to lay out the other pieces and eventually we finished it.
We finished another puzzle this week. It was sent to us by our good friends, Brian and Lisa. We really enjoyed hiking with their dogs when we were in Alaska in June. Sadly, one of them is gone now, but Ayla and Lucky made the move with them to Oregon. This was a slightly easier puzzle than some we’ve done lately, being only 500 pieces, but we enjoyed it, nonetheless. We’re hoping to have Brian, Lisa, Ayla, and Lucky visit us this fall. This photo isn’t as good as some of the puzzle pictures I’ve been able to take, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what it looked like. Of course, we never know, in any detail, what a puzzle will look like while we’re putting it together. Looking at the box would be cheating.
We finished another puzzle in the last few days. This one is another with illustrations of proverbs and idioms and at 1505 pieces, it took us a while. Although areas of bright color are sometimes the easiest to work on, there are times when I get concentrated on things like the sky and for this puzzle, once we had a lot of the easier bits done, I tackled the sky, working primarily with shapes and fine gradations of color. It’s challenging and part of what makes puzzles interesting. The other ‘rule’ we have is we don’t look at the box. That’s cheating, in our book, and it also serves to make the puzzle more interesting, especially with something like this where you have no idea of the overall design ahead of time.
This puzzle is, as you might notice, missing one piece. We actually found that piece after we took it apart to pit it back in its box, so that’s fine. More curious than that, though, is that there was an extra piece that clearly isn’t from this puzzle at all. We’ve no idea where that came from.
We finished another puzzle. This one is of a 1559 oil painting by the Pieter Bruegel the Elder titled “Netherlandish Proverbs”. It depicts a scene in which humans and, to a lesser extent, animals and objects, offer literal illustrations of Dutch-language proverbs and idioms. We have no idea what most of them mean. This puzzle was surprisingly hard. At one point we realized we had an entire bock two pieces to the left of where they needed to go. We had a few other incidents where we finally figured out a piece was in the wrong place and that was holding us up. Nevertheless, we finally got it done.
We finished another puzzle last night so I took pictures of it this morning. This is one that I got Cathy for her birthday. We’ll take a short break from puzzles because we need the puzzle table on Christmas and can use it for wrapping presents leading up to that. We’ll take it with us when we visit Cathy’s mom on Christmas morning and then have it available if we need more table space when my family comes in the afternoon. This wasn’t a particularly difficult puzzle, but we enjoyed it. We like the bright colors. As for what’s next, who knows?
I’ve posted a pictures from time to time of puzzles we’ve completed. Today’s photo is of a puzzle we’ve just started. It’s got drawings of flowers with some text but looks like it’s going to be pretty hard, with a lot of pure white pieces. This is how we start a new puzzle, though. The first step is to turn all the pieces right side up. At the same time, we pull out any edge pieces, known by their straight side, and put those all together. We also move the pieces towards the edge of the table, so that when we have the edges together, most of the pieces are outside that. All the edge pieces that we had found by the time I took this are in the lower left. After this was taken, I started working on the edges and Cathy started grouping other pieces by color, since it appears that each of the flowers is somewhat unique in terms of flower color. Note that looking at the box once the puzzle is out on the table is cheating.
Shortly after Christmas we started a new puzzle (see Wednesday, December 27, 2023). We finished it last night. This was a fairly challenging puzzle due to a combination of reason. First, many of the pieces had nothing on them. Although the background color varied slightly over the width of the puzzle, it didn’t vary much. Furthermore, the pieces were almost all of roughly the same shape. Once we got all the pieces that had any color on them in place, there were about 50 pieces that were pure white. We did eventually get them all together, though. As you can see, there is one piece missing at the top of the white clover. I’m pretty sure we didn’t lose it, but these things happen.
On June 6, 2023, I posted a photo of a common merganser (Mergus merganser) with ducklings on her back. They were swimming on Mendenhall Lake and it was taken at from the glacier overlook. Cathy and I really enjoyed that visit and in addition to the mergansers we saw arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea). Later that same day we returned to the Glacier with our friends Brian and Lisa. The overcast sky had partially cleared and there was a beautiful mix of blue and white, both overhead and in the reflections on the water.
I had this 1000-piece puzzle made from a photograph I took that evening and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The sky was the hardest part although the water in the foreground was only marginally easier. With our love of puzzles, I think I might make more. But we have a few more waiting to be done, including one Brian and Lisa sent us recently with state flowers and birds.