Recovery, rest and a REALLY annoying puzzle

I thought it was time to change things up and post an update from the CP, instead of Nora.

I’m nearly six weeks out from hip replacement and will honestly say the hip is doing great. (My right knee — the first site of arthritis — doesn’t like things right now, but PT and massage and ice/heat help in that respect.) The surgeon’s office said I could leave the cane at home 10 days ago (and honestly, I was carrying it most of the time). There are a few restrictions and I try to be careful about weather and walking outside.

Back in the fall, Nora proposed a smaller girls’ trip to the spa for a respite from winter and life. Once I ascertained games would play NO part in the spa week, I was in. So last Sunday, Nora, JoAnne and I set out west to Nemacolin.

It was a pretty simple plan: some treatments, room service meals and time to chill. Plus, maybe construct a puzzle or two.

Those first three things fell into place nicely. That last one? Nearly broke our will to live.

On Sunday night, Nora asked us to choose which puzzle to do first.


JoAnne and I opted for the cheerful, colorful, spring-like cupcakes. We soon learned that was a front for the depths of hell.

Monday evening before dinner we poured out the pieces then commenced the search for the edges, dividing the rest among colors. Since there are four yellow cupcakes, five red/pink ones, two greens dividing into color was the first exercise in frustration.

At one point, one of us noticed there were letters on the back of the pieces, but we thought using them would be “cheating.”

Poor, deluded puzzlers.

Four hours in, JoAnne looked at the instructions: divide into letters. 🤦‍♀️

Honestly, it still didn’t help.

I decided to gather the purple pieces – there was only one purple cupcake. Which should have helped, but really didn’t.

The pieces were either horizontal or vertical IDENTICAL SHAPES so a piece could fit in one of many places.

And let’s add that the clear photo on the box did not translate into the magnification to make the puzzle.

The fates were stacked against us. Nora, as you’ve learned from other puzzle sagas, is not one to leave a puzzle undone so we were all bound to finish.

The puzzle mat, the extra working pads took over the dining room table. We’ve eaten off the catering table every night. The housekeepers, the butlers, the room service people all got caught up in the excitement of watching the puzzle grow.

“Look how far you’ve gotten!”

“The colors are so pretty!”

They cheered us on every step of the way. We met their enthusiasm with jaundiced expressions.

It took two days to get the purple cupcake finished.

Fortunately we had those services to get us out of the room. Nora worked every morning and got a nice chunk of vacation pages done. JoAnne and I got some reading done. I snapped some photos.

On Thursday afternoon we had a paint class. I just wanted to play with colors that would bow to my expectations. Nora and Jo found a pretty tropical scene they loved. We all walked out of the studio happy.

See? Colors CAN make you happy!

And yet, we kept heading back to the dining room table, determined to beat that puzzle into submission. On Thursday morning – day FOUR – I finally realized the letters had to go from top to bottom. That key helped for about 5 minutes because the pieces STILL fit in more than one place.

You know it’s bad when Nora threatened to take a scissor to pieces just to get them to fit. She took to calling it The Puzzle of Satan.

I referred to it as that F-ing Puzzle. I’d have a massage and the therapist would ask what I had planned for the rest of the day and all relaxation would flee as I explained the puzzle and it’s hold on us. I kept saying “at least I didn’t buy this one.” And I believe at one point I said it was worse than playing games. All true.

We persevered. Until we reached our limit and just left pieces where they fit, picture be damned.

Seriously, DO NOT mention that some pieces seem out of place.

We finished on Friday afternoon and left the puzzle in place so our cheerleaders could see the finished product. Tonight we may take it apart and safely burn it. Or not.

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the last few hours of relaxation (or is it really the ONLY few?) before it’s time to head home.

On a different note, I must offer a correction: Nora challenged me to a dance-off at the May Girls Spa Week when she shared that my surgery went well. In her excitement that it was finally done, she forgot that I will not attend Girls Spa this year as I’ll be playing the role of Mother of the Groom that week. So I’ll dance, but not for any scoreboard. 💃

That’s all for now! I have to cram in that last bit of relaxation.


41 thoughts on “Recovery, rest and a REALLY annoying puzzle”

  1. I’ve had puzzles from hell. One is based on one of Nora’s books. I worked on it ad nauseam. I had to stop. We needed the dining table for Christmas dinner. It’s still in the box. 😔

  2. Yikes! I didn’t realize how big that puzzle was until I saw it on the table. Glad you finished it.

    Enjoy your son’s wedding. So happy the hip is healing.

  3. I’m glad to hear you’re doing so well with your recovery. That’s just wonderful news. Puzzles?? Um, no!? I bought a set of 8, much smaller than your cupcakes, all are pictures by Kincaid. Beautiful and much more of a challenge than I really want. Give me word puzzles and I’m totally happy. It sounds like all the relaxation was quickly offset by frustration. I’m sure you all enjoyed the time together and really, that’s all that matters.

  4. Laura glad your recovery is going so well. That puzzle would have pushed me ever the edge. Love the paintings you ladies did. I do hope you got some relaxation in too. Fun time to get away even with the puzzle nightmare.

  5. Glad to hear things are going well with your recovery. Happy to hear you did not have a setback as a result of the puzzle. I don’t know if I would have had the patience. You didn’t mention if wine or other libations helped you kept calm and carry on.

  6. Oh my giddy aunt, that puzzle was huge! What a challenge, and you won! Well done.
    I am a fan of jigsaws, but I don’t thi k I’d attempt that one.
    Hope your hip continues to improve, and can’t wait to see you as The MOG (as we are discussing the Bride Quartet).

  7. Glad to hear that the recovery is going great. Be careful out there with the weather you got. Congrats on the upcoming wedding of your son. Enjoy the day and take lots of pictures.

  8. My daughters and myself started a puzzle from hell (A Van Gogh since we had seen the immersion experience ) and it is still sitting on our dining room table and the edges aren’t even done. It’s been there since December. Haha

  9. So glad your recovery is going well. How wonderful to get away!
    I love puzzles, but find them completely addictive once I start. Have you tried the “Wasgij” puzzles? The picture on the box is from the opposite view of the picture that is the puzzle. Imagination and stubbornness put to the test!

    1. Yes! My neighbor loaned me her Wasgij puzzle from New Zealand. I gave it back having only managed to complete the border. The box showed people on a beach looking towards the water; the puzzle was actually what they were seeing in the water. Great idea but wow, what a challenge.

  10. Very happy to hear how well your doing. I think the puzzle looks wonderful! Much better than I could have done as I don’t have the patience for them anymore. Have a great time as MOG!

  11. Your puzzle experience proves to me I am correct in never wanting to do puzzles. I would much rather read!!!

  12. Laura
    Congratulations on your amazing recovery. Keep on truckin😁
    Regarding the puzzles, we did so many during the shutdown! We learned there was on one brand we liked (Springbok). Tough to do, but at least we felt that sense of accomplishment.
    Really enjoy all the posts.
    Thanks for a job well done.

  13. Glad to hear you’re recovering from hip surgery .I will have knee replacement on Monday the arthritis became too much and the injection stopped working so this is what the only option is left.😥

    Looking forward to some quiet time to catch up on reading!! Hope to return to Boonsboro in the future for another book signing… That was so much fun meeting you and Nora and the whole crew! 🥰

  14. Thomas Kincade puzzles are the worst all those different shades. . .

  15. Wonderful that your surgery and recovery has gone well Laura! Puzzles have been on our table most of this winter, and I am like Nora…cannot leave one unfinished! Three things I vowed never to do after this winter…no puzzles over 1000 pieces, and no puzzles all the same shape, and none by Impressionist Artists. I do love your finished puzzle!

  16. Wonderful news on your recovery! Have a great time as dancing Groom’s Mom (clever planning to escape the games). Good luck with the knee.
    Sorry about the puzzle. Thanks for the warning!

  17. OMG! What a frustrating puzzle! Congrats on your recuperation and PT progress. So happy you’ll be dancing at your son’s wedding.

  18. I’m glad you stuck with the puzzle. I for one am a jigsaw puzzle fan and one of my sons gave me a subscription for Christmas. Every month I choose a new puzzle. I wish you better luck in your next endeavor!
    Enjoy the wedding! Glad to hear you are on the mend.

  19. Congratulations on the successful hip replacement and recovery. That looks like the puzzle from hell. You have to wonder what people were thinking when they cut it.
    Congratulations to your son on his upcoming wedding. Have fun dancing and no games lol.

  20. Congratulations on your rapid recovery. That’s fantastic. As for the puzzled, I would burn it or send it to someone you loath.

  21. Never seen the attraction in jigsaw puzzles since childhood but that seemed interesting until I read how it stumped you all. My favourite relaxing thing , apart from reading, are crystal pictures. Unfortunately wall space prevents me from doing lots of them. I’m glad you’re on the mend from surgery, well done.

  22. So happy you’re doing so well! Your paintings picture reminded me of our group painting parties when I was working. The picture at the end was several depictions of the subject and then mine. That still gets brought up from time to time. It’s what we see, right? That puzzle reminds me of one given to me from a relative – all Oreos. Never did find out what I did to deserve that. I’m way ahead of you on the arthritis. If you haven’t tried using Salonpas, you might look at it. My knees love it and cheaper than the shots. Enjoy your Spring!

  23. I think the puzzle looks great and it’s the kind of thing you can leave behind for the next guest(s) to tackle. 😃
    Congrats on your recovery and your son’s upcoming nuptials. Enjoy yourself! 💃🏾

  24. When I saw ‘jigsaw puzzle’ I thought what’s all the moaning about? THEN I saw the SIZE of the thing!😳. Their HUGE!!!!!! Bet that cured everybody’s jigsaw mania though huh? Glad to hear the recovery is going so well💐💐💐

  25. My friends send me puzzles of us together. It started with one puzzle when I was in recovery an it nearly broke me. They enjoyed my misery soooooo much they now create them and send them to me as bloody Christmas gifts. I love my twisted friends.

  26. My “puzzle from hell” is one called “Quilting Santa”. The quilt has a lot of the same pattern spaced apart. The puzzle pieces aren’t exactly the same but close enough where mistakes were made and took a while to discover. Started before Christmas. I’m happy to get 2 or 3 pieces a day!! Google it.

  27. Lol. That was so funny. You had me rolling. Glad you guys had a somewhat relaxing time!

  28. OMG, that sucker is huge! How many pieces are in that puzzle? I’ve done 2,000 piece puzzles before but never had one cover an entire dr table! I love doing jigsaws but haven’t for a while because the table has been covered by various sorting/listing/organizing puzzles for some time…all part of one of these days, this house will be sorted, etc!
    Decades ago, when apartment living & my table barely seated 4 people, we’d take a closet door down (one of those that slides back & forth) & lay it upside down on the coffee table, do the puzzle on that! we’d also do that on some Friday nights when I’d have a large group over for cards & drinks–lot more people could fit around it…plus many of us were still limber enough to sit on the floor!

  29. I had to laugh. My grandfather (who passed away years ago) was an expert in jigsaw puzzles. One day, he griped that the puzzles were too easy. He really shouldn’t have said anything…

    My mother spotted one in a stationary that she thought would be a challenge. Closeup of a banana. Completely yellow except for the Dole sticker in the middle. My grandfather didn’t complain about the difficulty of puzzles after that!

  30. Love the puzzle! I love challenging puzzles. Done 54 puzzles (a couple of 2,000, 1,500, 500 piece puzzles, along with lots of 1,000 piece puzzles – that is my favorite count) since March 2020. I have puzzle sorters that I put pieces into that are similar shapes. My daughter sorts by color. What brand is the puzzle as I would love to find that one?

  31. Here’s a puzzle suggestion for next time:
    My daughter got it for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday. We started it and then she left it behind for the rest of us to work on. We were supposed to save some pieces for her to put in, but that didn’t happen. It was fun and just challenging enough – and it has a twist.

  32. So glad the hip is healing so well. I had both knees done a year apart. Both were grinding bone on bone. While going thru therapy for the first knee the therapist was trying to correct my stride. For a couple of years I had swung one leg to keep from bending my knee. It was a hard habit to break. In frustration she loudly asked “Do you not know how to swing your hips!?” I replied “At 56 yrs of age I think I know how to swing my hips!” I proceeded to do so. She shouted “That’s it! That’s how I want you to walk!” Everybody had stopped to watch and the guys all gave me wolf whistles. That afternoon my husband grinned and gave me a whistle of his own as I practised going up & down the hallway.

  33. So happy to hear your hips on the mend. Re your knees did u ever try anti-inflammatorys like turmeric.? My knee was giving me pain. Turmeric helped but not completely. It was sporadic pain. Going down the steps. Now when my knee buckled twice , I decided 2c a doc. Covid times I couldn’t get to 1. Luckily my friend shared her docs recommendation & it

    helped her. Tonic water. The quinine in it does something for the pain. I couldn’t believe it. One glass of diet tonic water b4 bed & the pain is gone.
    Re puzzles. Why? Im not a masochist. Done it. Won’t b doing it again. My down time is too precious.

  34. Laura
    So glad to hear that your recovery is going well! I am glad that all of you could get away for a few days (even with the puzzle from hell). Now that I have seen the cupcake puzzle I know now why I stick to word games LOL

  35. Are those the biggest pieces of all time or just the camera angle? I’ve done 2000 piece puzzles that weren’t as big as that 1000.

    Now I’m curious about it though and severely tempted to find one. I’ll gladly take it off your hands 😂

  36. I officially need Nora’s sneakers. I have never seen that color and I have total shoe envy. 😀

  37. Years ago, we had one called Red Riding Hood’s Hood; an all red circular puzzle. We opened it but I don’t think we ever seriously tried.

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