Puzzle Solutions

Yesterday our friend Carrie sent over some photos of her puzzles inside her puzzle room.

IMG_2205A couple of observations:

  1. She has a puzzle room.
  2. She has lots of cool puzzles.

Clearly Carrie is one of the one percenters of Puzzledom.

Those vying to become our leader agree on few things.  And in these strange and fearful times, they present even fewer options.

  1. I can vote for Donny and then I will become a winner so that one day I can have a puzzle room and lots of cool puzzles of my own.
  2. I can vote for Bernie in which case we will seize Carrie’s puzzle room and puzzles and redistribute them to all the other citizens in the land of Puzzledom. (BTW, if this happens, I call dibs on the 4D puzzle of San Francisco.)
  3. I can vote for Teddy, but then only God knows what will happen (and I mean his own particular God which doesn’t include all the other Gods floating around out there.)
  4. I can vote for Hilary which will result in Carrie keeping her puzzle room and puzzles and me keeping mine and Puzzledom will muddle along much as it always has.

There is, of course, the option presented by another friend, Mary Anne, who sent over an image of her recently completed puzzle of the door to Francis Bacon’s Reece Mews studio in Kensington.

940858_10153794075286043_4455235101400703087_n

Mary Anne presently lives in Scotland. In her world they will one day declare independence and establish their own self-governing Puzzledom in which they will drink Scotch, do drunken imitations of Scotty from Star Trek and while away the long dark evenings puzzling wistfully at Bacon’s door.

It doesn’t sound too bad at all.

Peace through Strength

Friday night all hell broke loose.

The chaos began when Mazie lay down on the puzzle field.

IMG_8563

 

Later that night she and Anna staged an insurrection and suspended all rules.  They fumbled around with pieces.  They tried to place pieces that lay outside the border.  They worked all helter skelter on one little area and then another little area and then another without any rhyme or reason.

IMG_8566Yesterday morning I instituted martial law.  All rules reinstated plus an additional 5th:  You were allowed to place three pieces and then had to walk away.

Last night we happily listened to the Republican debate as the cafe slowly came into focus.  I learned last night that a civil society can only prevail in these fearful times through strength and waterboarding and things far worse.

IMG_8564

 

Faith

The Jehovah Witnesses just came to my door.

Which is not all that remarkable.  I was nice to them once and so they now come pretty regularly.

And since that first time, it always seems to be at the wrong moment:  I’m under deadline, preoccupied, sad, dealing with the catastrophe of the moment.  Today I happened to be sick and coughing and in no mood to have a conversation.

Some days I hastily answer the door and shoo them away.  Other times I cower in a back room, peeking out the window until I see t
hem drive off.

What gets me though is how they just keep showing up.

I page through this month’s edition of “Awake!”.    There’s a delightful three paragraph article about Liechtenstein where perhaps one day I might visit.  I see a picture of Käsknöpfle, a dish that Liechtensteinians apparently like to eat.  The photo of the cheesy onion pasta makes me feel hungry.

I take a quiz on what Jehovah Witnesses believe and get half the answers wrong.  There’s an article about staying positive.  And another on how to make real friends.  Looking at the photographs I feel safe and happy.

Once while teaching Sunday School my Uncle Eriks asked the young children to define faith.

“Faith,” answered one young boy, “is believing in something that you know not to be true.”

Do these adherents believe that one day I shall invite them in and we will discuss God over tea?  True faith, indeed.

Or do they believe that even if I never answer their call, the Lord’s will shall be wrought simply by knocking on the door, that the knock itself is the instrument of God?

Now that is a different order of Faith entirely.

Tonight I invite you all to make Käsknöpfle.

Kaskalnopfe

More Puzzling

It’s hard to make sense of them big masses of color.  When you’re in a sea of yellow, there is only yellow.  And if you exist in a sea of blue, only blue.

It helps to course the boundary between the two.  And certainly the painter himself was drawn to these areas.  As you reassemble the disaggregated color, you become more aware of all the vertical and diagonal lines he dashed out cutting between light and  dark.

And once you’ve spent enough time exploring these areas, it’s easier to dive into the small blotches of color that previously warranted no attention.

Take the green for example.  Easy enough to pick out the few laurel pieces.

IMG_8559

And Wa-la!  A small part of the world has been made whole again.

IMG_8560

I should confess at this point that I’m a bit of a puzzle Nazi.  Here are the rules:

  1.  Once pieces are on the table, no looking at the box.  Ever.  Life is much more fun when it’s a mystery and you have little idea where you’re heading.
  2. Don’t touch a piece unless you know exactly where it will fit.  This leads to lots of slow pondering and a lot less fumbling.  Plus you get the satisfying click when you seize a piece and snap it neatly into place.
  3. If you’re wrong, session ends.  You walk away.  Allows you to retrieve yourself from lost afternoons and lost lives fixating on the wrong thing. (I have to admit, I don’t always abide by this).  Sometimes it’s superseded by rule #4.
  4. Well, if you insist.  If a piece doesn’t fit, you have to hold onto it and within a reasonable amount of time find it’s rightful home.  If you don’t, you’re out.  If you do, you get a pass.

And then this kicker that I just made up:

5. Only use the pieces within the frame.  Few of us start with a full deck.  So we make do with what we got.  In this case a third of the pieces are outside the puzzle frame.  But I’ll soldier on, using only what I have at my disposal.

As you can imagine, these rules may well explain why I don’t have many friends.

IMG_8561

Puzzles

I like the process because it affords that chance so rarely available in a gallery or museum or even in every day life.

You end up sitting with a masterwork for a very long time and you’re given that rare opportunity to puzzle over the individual brushstrokes and minuscule bits of paint and broad swatches of color disaggregated from any image at all.  You sit with those brushstrokes (or at least the shadow of their facsimile) for days and days and days.

In doing so the obvious becomes, well, obvious.  As does the genius.

First, of course, we seek the boundary.

thumb_IMG_8528_1024

Many of us begin by finding the edge pieces.  They’re easy to locate. But they also transform an infinite sprawling mess into something finite and perhaps apprehensible.

We want to declare order and somehow bound the chaos.

Secondly the sandstorm of color is not really that chaotic at all.

thumb_IMG_8530_1024

We detect clear patterns.

thumb_IMG_8529_1024

Most magnetic and appealing of all burns that mass of of complexly layered yellow and mustard.

thumb_IMG_8533_1024

As well the eye and fingers are drawn to the countervailing mass of blue and darkness.

thumb_IMG_8531_1024

These two palettes beyond all else seem to dominate.

But there’s that third muddled mess of pastel reflections of the light and darkness, more muted and intertwined.

thumb_IMG_8537_1024

And then perhaps you notice that the darkness is not black. It’s violet and blue and umber and pitchy turquoise if there were such a thing.  And scintillating pulsing points of light, more bright and piercing than the warm ochre and mustard and tangerine, punctuate the darkness.

thumb_IMG_8534_1024

The darkness is not dark at all, I tell my wife.

But it was, she countered.  For him it was.

I differ.  I still don’t believe it was the darkness that did him in.  Instead, perhaps, it was his perceived inability to render that darkness, to make it as manifest and material and dimensional as he himself saw it.

In his case the brushstrokes themselves mattered most of all.  Perhaps he no longer believed in those brushstrokes.  Or perhaps the loneliness inherent in their execution were too much to bear.