Wednesday, 28 December 2011


After a busy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day my tradition for Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day) is to veg out, and for me that means doing puzzles: a jigsaw puzzle or a favorite crossword or sudoku puzzle. Boxing Day shopping is not for me, I am not a great fan of shopping at the best of times so Boxing Day shopping is definitely out.

Jigsaw puzzles according to Wikipedia:
"were originally created by painting a picture on a flat, rectangular piece of wood, and then cutting that picture into small pieces with a jigsaw, hence the name. John Spilsbury, a London mapmaker and engraver, is credited with commercialising jigsaw puzzles around 1760. Most modern jigsaw puzzles are made out of cardboard, since they are easier and cheaper to mass produce than the original wooden models."

The word "puzzle" has its roots in a word from Old French: pusle meaning “bewilder, confound” is a form of the obsolete verb pose (from Medieval French aposer) in the sense of “perplex”. The use of the word to indicate “a toy contrived to test one’s ingenuity” dates from the mid-19th century.

Why do puzzles appeal to people? Puzzles are a mental challenge and apparently keep the mind sharp. For me focusing on a puzzle is also an escape. I find a jigsaw puzzle occupies my mind but still allows me to mentally relax.

There are also visual puzzles. I don't know if others have ever had the experience of looking at something but not being able to recognize it. The side of the brain, (I think it depends on whether you are left or right handed which side this is), that likes colour and form for their own sake is content but the analytical side of the brain is knocking itself out trying to find a pattern or recognize the image.

I have seen my cat Oscar (in kitty heaven now unfortunately) looking at something new, in the house or outside, and approaching very carefully, obviously he didn't recognize this new thing and wasn't sure if was friend or foe; sometimes he would run up and touch the object and then almost launch himself into the air to try to get away.

The picture at the beginning of the blog today is taken after the sun hit my frost covered plastic owl, looks like he is smoking doesn't it? The process of frost evaporating is called sublimation.
I looked through some of the pictures in my archive and found some that were a bit puzzling, and they are the main subject of today's post. What is this one? Some kind of fruit perhaps?

Well you might be surprised to find that it is and edible fungi, although the colour is a bit bright and I was once told to be careful of the bright, showy ones because they were not good for you.

I am sorry about the grainy quality of the next one, I took this a few years ago with an old camera.

Well in fact it is a picture that I took in Costa Rica of a very small frog. We were on a guided jungle walk and this is the picture I got when the guide picked this one up to let us have a closer look.

Any ideas on this one? I can tell you that it was taken in southern Italy, but I am not sure whether that will help much.

This is a picture taken inside and ancient olive tree, up towards the sky. Even though the tree had a gaping holes in its trunk it seemed to be otherwise healthy and held not only leaves but also olives.

This next one is a puzzle to me because I don't know what it is. I took the picture while on a walk in Umbria, Italy. It is a berry, maybe a Mulberry, but I have never seen it before. There is a larger picture below, showing a cluster of fruit.

You can probably guess what this one is even if you have never seen one before. Hint: I took this picture in southern Arizona.

Yes it is a cactus skeleton. I was fascinated, I had never seen one before.

I don't think this one is particularly puzzling, but it is funny. It's a cactus again, but this one is alive and masquerading as a giraffe.

This one is intriguing to me, it is a reflection in a small pond with an overgrown stump partly submerged. When I look at it, it almost appears to be a view of the distant forest rather than reflections.

The next one is a float, surrounded by reflections from a nearby dock.

I find this picture interesting because of the sign, which advertises a Bake Shop (which was nowhere in site), and it sits beside this old relic of a truck. I wonder if someone put it up as a joke.

I just like the quizzical look I got from this blue heron.

Here is a closeup of a piece of weathered driftwood.

Obviously a snail, but what caught my attention was where it was, see the following image. It is on a leaf on a ledge? What the.......

OK, this is a bird, rather an interesting angle, but what are the lines? One appears almost to be coming out of his head. The sparrow was sitting atop a fence outside a sailing centre and the lines are actually the rigging of one of the boats.

Mystery flower?

It is the flower of a Tulip Tree, or Liriodendron Tulipfora.
Here is a macro for you to ponder. See the complete image below for an explanation.

This is something I saw when out walking on a frosty day. Two pairs of work gloves decorating a pine tree.

The next two images are both closeups in that they don't give the whole picture, but I think the second one is quite recognizable.

But why was a Double Bass in a park at the beach? I didn't ask, but it seems to be a pleasant place to practice.

One last image. I think it could either be something very small or very large.

It is very large, it is a rock formation in the Grand Canyon.

OK, I heard you saying ENOUGH already. I hope you have enjoyed my visual puzzles.

"Nothing puzzles me more than time and space; and yet nothing troubles me less, as I never think about them." Charles Lamb
May all, or most of, your puzzles have a solution but be satisfying.

If you haven't heard "Il Volo" before you will be amazed at how mature their voices are for their age. This is a treat too because it is recorded live in the arena in Verona. Italy.

Now that Christmas is past, I can share these images of three recent paintings; all are watercolours. The first is a commission of a Border Collie. The second is a painting of a blind, but pampered and happy, cat. The third is the image for our 2011 personal Christmas card.

Happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week,


  1. Some great images here...Give me five a day. I can cope with that.
    I love the snail. Make a post on it's own would that.

  2. The beauty of seeing something up close is that patterns are revealed and become more prominent than the object. The Italian olive tree looks like swirling chocolate ice cream with a dab of cream on top and the float could be a lemon. On the other hand, the broader view reveals details such as size and circumstance. But no matter how you look at it, life is, indeed, a puzzler. :)

  3. beautiful paintings, gillian. and lots of fun with the photos. the tiny frog is precious. but my favorite was the image of the driftwood piece. wow!

  4. I always like your photographs and art very much, as well as your narrative. That little frog is great. I like to work puzzles.

  5. I enjoyed seeing your closeups. Thank you ever so much for telling us right away what they actually were. :)

  6. Hello,Gillian,
    Your words and photos are so delightful always. Oh, you are enjoying Sudoku!! These number puzzles are so popular that I have seen many people enjoying them on a train, bus, in a café and more. I have not yet tried them, but I will do soon.
    I especially love the owl which looks like emitting steam and the closeup of a piece of weathered driftwood. I am amazed with your photos as you have the eye of an excellent photographer.
    Have wonderful holidays and Happy New Year!

  7. I like your collection of images...and your puzzles too.

  8. :-) Cute post on puzzles! I rested at home the day after Christmas too. All three of us vegged around and relaxed. Your paintings are sooooo beautiful. I loved all three!

  9. They are amazing, thanks for that.

  10. I sw the little green frog in CR too. But in a hotel pool. I don´t know the name either.

  11. Gillian, a most wonderful post filled with interesting information, fun puzzle photographs and beautiful art work. All a pleasure to view. Love the bright green frog, snail and cactus skeleton! Terrific paintings ... you are so very talented!

    Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy New Year filled with joy!

  12. Always diverse and interesting photos on your blog--a fun place to visit. Happy New Year. Mickie ;)

  13. Happy New Year Gillian! What a joy to see all your images and paintings! Lovely! I love the tiny frog!! Love puzzles too. Did you ever think of making some from your photos or paintings? Best wishes for 2012! Carol

  14. Happy New Year! Best wishes for you!

  15. Amazing post.
    Thank you.
    HAve a wonderful 2012.

  16. Your puzzle post was fascinating, Gillian. So many wonderful photos and I love your watercolours. The masquerading giraffe, the heron, the double bass, the truck with the bake shop sign (that I have also photographed) and the collie were some of my favourites. Wishing you and those you love the very best in 2012.

  17. I am in awe of your creative art work, the inspiring photos, especially the leaf, the float and mushrooms. Your background on your blog is gorgeous. Is it yours?

    I have a closet full of jigsaw puzzles, I need to set up my table soon and start one. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  18. ...Just to say: Thanks!

  19. The cluster of fruit, yes they are mulberries.
    Love the little frog, amazing bulging eyes!

  20. Interesting post! I do enjoy a good jigsaw puzzle!

  21. What a fun collection of images. I love the smoking owl and the prickly giraffe. And your art is absolutely beautiful.

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