It’s Puzzling….

Max High ContrastHello and welcome to the blog!

It’s been pretty quiet lately.  I’ve not been fishing or camping since Christmas.  The plan was to do something on New Year’s Eve but most of the time was spent putting together jigsaw puzzles and covering shifts at work.

Today we’re looking at a nasty snowstorm by later in the afternoon.  Up to 7 or 8 inches are predicted.  Shortly after that, the temperature is going to plummet to -20 degrees.  With the next couple days off from work, it’s a great time to hibernate and work on hobbies.

The latest fun activity is assembling jigsaw puzzles featuring pictures drawn by Charles Wysocki.  His depictions of felines are adorable and show each cat resting after getting into mischief.  The drawings are so detailed that many pieces are readily identifiable; it makes assembly much easier and all the more captivating… at the expense of the housework not getting done.

HangerAfter each puzzle has been finished, I carefully slide it onto a large, slick piece of white foam board.  Prior to gluing, all of the pieces are smoothed over carefully with a heavy round object.  (I use a 2 liter Diet Coke bottle).  There is a plethora of puzzle gluing products out there.  I just use white Elmer’s glue (dries clear) and an old plastic driver’s license, working the glue into every crevice (from several angles) but not getting carried away with the amount of glue — just enough to fill the cracks.  Then the board is transferred to a safe, “no cats allowed” location for drying.  Once the glue has dried, the puzzle is ready for mounting.

I used to have Hobby Lobby dry mount the glued jigsaw puzzle at a cost of about $15.  Unfortunately, the puzzles did not always bond.  What works best for me and is MUCH cheaper is to buy a simple piece of foam board from Walmart.  I prefer black.  Then I draw spider webs of Elmer’s glue all over the back of the puzzle as well as on the foam board.  To get the puzzle to lie flat, try using soup cans or other weights on the front surface off the jigsaw puzzle.  A couple of hours and … voila!  For 1/5 the price, you’ve just mounted your artifact as well is not much better than the store!  Simply use a razor blade to score the edge, bend, and trim the extra foam board so it’s flush.

Prison PuzzleNext, using “saw tooth hangers” (which I purchased at Hobby Lobby), you simply affix the adhesive of each hanger to the foam board.  Then you just use a couple small nails (such as paneling nails) and hang the puzzle using the transparent plastic strips.  (see above picture)

The picture on the left is a jigsaw puzzle of a state penitentiary just down the street from where I live.  They add some character to the walls.

Assembling jigsaw puzzles is not just fun, they’ve helped me with a couple of issues.  The biggest is the diabetic eyes.  A month ago the eyes were focusing slowly and slipping in and out of focus.  Since working on hobbies requiring detail (crochet as well as jigsaw puzzles), the problem vanished.  It seems to also have helped with some peripheral neuropathy in the fingers.  If that’s not enough, keeping busy also helps with feeling depressed at this time of the year… when there’s not much to do but listen to the forecast for more and more snow.

Let it snowUpdate:  We got our snow… It’s 9:55 PM and the posting (which had been mostly finished) automatically went up … although the cats and I had zonked out following a “family meal” of baked chicken.  Here’s how things are looking outside the front door right now… We have five inches of snow on the ground with another inch or two to go… Talk about peaceful!

With a little luck, the weather will improve later in the week after the temperatures recover.  I’m hoping to drive up north a do a little winter fishing… If not, well there are more puzzles on the way from Ebay and plenty of hot apple cider packets are in the cupboard.  Hibernation is not a bad thing right now!

Take care and thanks for stopping by eastern Iowa!

Bradford, Serena, and Jesse James




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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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