Deck the Halls

Christmas is coming! Pause a moment in a public space and you will likely hear bells or Christmas music or both.

Public spaces and private homes are hosting decorated trees, lights, and figures both religious and secular.

Pull out the music. Refresh your memory. This puzzle artist presents a nostalgic scene of Victorian Era carolers. See the holly? Sing along.

Everyone can sing the chorus.


Harvest Festival

Two days from now, the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

It is right and proper to set aside one day a year to give thanks for all the positive things in your life. While you can make a case that near the end of November is rather late to celebrate a harvest — all should be gathered in.

Winter weather is present or scheduled to arrive in large portions of the country. The growing season is over in all but the most moderate of weather regions.

In this puzzle, the artist emphasized the harvest colors of red, orange, and yellow. While that people are dressed in the “plain” or “Amish” fashion, portions of this scene were present in my childhood. (In very “modern” farming regions.) Some communities continue to celebration in the autumn with “steam threshing days.”

In this year which held many unpleasant surprises for many — I urge you to pause and “give thanks.” The harvest is accomplished. Distribution remains a problem — a situation caused by men and to be solved by them.

What sort of things in the puzzle are you thankful for?


Invisible Force

You can feel it. Sometimes you can hear it. You can see the reaction of other things to its presence.

But WIND is invisible. How do you see rushing air?

Smoke? But are you seeing the air or the particles it carries?

Grass and trees bend. Flags flap. People shiver. Hang on to your hat! Wind makes a winter day feel colder, cools you on a summer day, and plays games with jacket selection in spring and fall.

In this puzzle, assembled during the early (we didn’t know it then) days of the 2020 pandemic orders — the artist has fun showing the spring breeze via kites.

Did you fly kites? As a child? Or adult? Mine seldom got off the ground. Many years ago, I enjoyed watching a group fly kites on the shore of a large lake.


Safety Light

Roads have signs to guide the traveller.

Office buildings have directories and numbered doors.

Waterways have lights — green, red, pulsing — to warn of danger and guide ships to safe harbor.

This shaped puzzle — a lighthouse filled with lighthouses — caught my eye the first time I explored the box of “slightly used” puzzles.

When I’m on vacation near a large body of water, I explore the opportunity to visit. They are all automated now — perhaps that has helped some of them become museums and attractions. Let your imagination soar. Could you be a lighthouse keeper? Or part of his family?

Winter storms. Isolation. Rugged terrain. Sunrise (or sunset) on the water. Curling waves. Ship sightings.

Each building and light unique to guide people and cargo to safety. From the first people to light bonfires on the cliff to warn ships to the automated lights supplementing GPS and radio — cheers for some of the “first responders” in our society.


A Swan Friend

Decades ago, when we went to visit one of my Aunts, we would take a walk after lunch. Often we ended up at the park and watched the swans. It was an elegant chance of pace from watching the ducks in my hometown.

Meeting them in the park. Finding them in a storybook — I had a copy of “The Ugly Duckling”. Even small girls in tiny Midwestern villages meet the animals.

Perhaps it is these very degrees of separation which encourage the imagination. White — clean and pure. Does that make them kind? Gentle? They glide across water with few ripples. Does that make them quiet? Sneaky? A few drops of information can fuel daydreams.

A colorfully dressed lady shares the puzzle with her swan friend.

Can you create a story from the picture?


Bears at Home

“Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, climb the stairs.”

At our school, among my friends, this was the start of a jump rope rhyme.

Bears have been featured as toys for a few generations, more than a century. Soft bears to cuddle come in all sizes. Carved wooden bears to march and roam across the floor — mixed in with the building blocks. They are an animal featured in stories from traditional Goldilocks to the popular family called Bearenstein.

This puzzle of the Bear family at home features objects from several different past decades. (And also occupied time during these stay-at-home days.)

Which things have you used? Do you recognize?


Civic Duty

Today is Election Day in the United States.

Are you a citizen? Registered voter? Have you cast your ballot?

This year, like several million others, I opted to vote by mail. Some of my friends voted at an early, in-person site. Today’s your final opportunity.

Speak up at the ballot box. For national, state, and local officials plus any initiatives or referendums on the slate.