Puzzling Friends

puzzle pieces

The residents’ puzzle assembly is a hallmark of Kirby Pines. If a person wanders around the hallways of the independent apartments, they’ll find residents in adjoining atriums of many wings assembling puzzles that are in various stages of completion. The Grand Kirby Pines Puzzle is located on a large flat table near the Kirby Pines Postboxes. The puzzles that are assembled here are mostly 1,000-piece puzzles. The table is large enabling the size of puzzles which is usually close to 24” x 36” rectangle, considerably larger than the 300 or 500-piece puzzles in the apartment areas. The goal is to complete this puzzle within two weeks. A small number of residents are dedicated to work on the current puzzle; other residents stop by after getting their mail and try to insert a piece here or there. 

Since puzzles are often located in retirement communities, benefits to residents must exist. Studies have shown that assembling jigsaw puzzles can help improve visual-spatial reasoning, short-term memory and problem-solving skills as well as combat cognitive decline, which can reduce risk of developing dementia. Additionally, working jigsaw puzzles can reduce stress, spark imagination and increase both creativity and productivity. 

Four Kirby Pines residents, Carolin & Ken Thomason, and Sheryl & Mark Maxwell have been assembling various 300 to 500-piece puzzles in the J2 – M3 Atrium. After taking a picture of each completed puzzle, they find they have completed 194 puzzles since January 2022. These have included the “no straight-edge type” as well as Bits and Pieces brand which may not have regular rows and columns of pieces, but instead pieces swirl. Recently they began to assemble a difficult puzzle. The puzzle contained 530 pieces, had an irregular shaped border and imbedded custom cut out pieces (a cat, a star, a bunny, an umbrella, a half moon, a flying goose, and broken heart etc.) The winter scene pictured 18 ice skaters. This challenging puzzle had a backing of cork, with no definite rectangular border. They had no idea if all pieces were present or what the entire puzzle looked like, as part of the box’s finished puzzle picture was hidden by an advertisement. Undeterred, they forged ahead with the goal of completing it within several days. They believed this puzzle had never been completed by a past owner, so they decided to immortalize the puzzle by gluing it together, placing it on a white surface and framing it. Mark Maxwell built the frame out of salvaged wood handrails and painted the wooden pieces black to complement the roofs of the buildings. A plaque was procured stating their names and the date of completion. It is now proudly placed on the wall of their joint atrium with many fond memories of their puzzle experiences. 

We invite ALL to come to the J2 – M3 atrium to view this unique puzzle, near the round table, currently scattered with our newest puzzle on the nearby table. Try to find the hidden, umbrella, moose, or horse in the memorialized framed puzzle on the nearby wall. Perhaps you too will become a puzzle person! There are many benefits, the best being fellowship! 

framed puzzle
Mark & Sheryl Maxwell and Carolin & Ken Thomason