My Tea Puzzle

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Just finished this one… it’s now under the living room sofa – vintage tea labels and advertisements.

I don’t know about you, but I have been trying to be trying to be inspired and resourceful during my many days of being housebound during the many days of required stay at home orders.

Here are some of my varied daily activities…

reading, napping, crossword puzzles, napping, writing letters and e-mailing friends, napping, trying to garden when the sun is out, napping, crocheting, napping, baking lots of chocolate chip cookies, napping, binge watching old sappy movies on TMC, napping, checking my emails too many times during the day, napping, coloring, napping and working 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles – only tea related puzzles of course.

Now, as a kid…

I fondly remember a friend of my grandparents, Mr. Gooseman, who sat for hours and hours at a small table, in his home in Michigan, working on landscape puzzles –puzzles that when you looked at each piece as you felt like you were traveling to the place and time of the puzzle –  for example – Paris at Sunset, Venice Waterways, Cold, Snowy Winters in Vermont.  While he sat there patiently looking at the pieces, every so often his wife Maude, would set down a frosty glass of lemonade and a plateful of her soft molasses spice cookies and he would just nod his head. I often stood motionless and silent next to Mr. Gooseman, staring down at the millions of tiny pieces and wonder after a few minutes, how he could  just pick up that one exact piece and carefully place it in its appointed spot. To me it was almost like magic – how he could look at ALL those pieces and then find just that ONE piece that fit.  I did learn some things from watching him… edge pieces first, have all your pieces facing the same way, sort by color, pay close attention to the shape of the pieces, work on small sections at a time and most important don’t give up. Funny, after so so many years ago, that I could so warmly remember him and his puzzles.

Since all this craziness began, I have read in numerous places that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have taken up jigsaw puzzles during the pandemic. WHY???? So, I did some research…According to Doctoral student Stacy Costa, puzzles create a sense of order in times of chaos and can even have real-world applications. I found it very interesting – she is a puzzle designer and PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, where one of her areas of research is puzzles and the brain.

She is quoted as saying “We’re living in this world of chaos right now, and puzzles make you feel like your’re in control of things. People are able to take that chaos and create order. They can’t deal with the chaos around them, but it’s satisfying to deal with something controllable right in front of them. People are doing that to calm themselves down and give themselves some sort of mental release, I think jigsaw puzzles have taken over that.” Costa says the adult coloring book trend of a few years ago was similar – I’m still coloring!

Further in the current craze for puzzles, there is another basic desire that the research shows and that is they are not just for amusement, but also for comfort and clarity. Puzzles, handcrafts, coloring and other meditative activities have long been thought to decrease feelings of anxiety and increase mental well-being. Apparently, there’s a popular psychological concept, called flow, that activities like puzzles can ignite. Flow, is typically thought of as “being in the zone,” it is the state someone enters when they’re totally concentrated on an activity they find fun and fulfilling. Another researcher, Dr. Vaile Wright, director of clinical research and quality at the American Psychological Association, says… “They reduce your fight or flight response because it serves as a distraction — the good kind.  You’re mentally looking for patterns, making connections, and that’s firing off different parts of your brain that then influence hormone responses. People also find it lowers cortisol, which is your stress hormone, and increases endorphins,”

Amanda Kahle a puzzle designer says.. “It’s meditative. When you’re puzzling, you’re completely focusing. It’s a really simple thing, but when you find a hard piece or finish a whole puzzle, you get this little jolt of, ‘Yes, I did that!’ I think people realize it makes them feel better.”

Well, I don’t  know about all that but… but our dining room table has been covered with teeny tiny puzzle pieces for weeks and we have been eating on TV trays.

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This is the puzzle that is currently on the dining room table.

 

 

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