Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Ultimate Frustration!

 So our puzzles have been sitting down in Miami and we've been getting one excuse after the other as to why they haven't arrived. George got a call from the UK shipper and was told we owe close to $8000 in duty.  This is odd.  Puzzles have no duty.  

I had him call down to Miami and get the scoop. Turns out, the shipping company, or the container company made a mistake and put the 2 containers on 2 different ships. There was one Bill of Lading so the puzzles had to stay in a bonded warehouse while we waited 2 weeks for the others to arrive.  In the mean time, we are stuck paying storage fees.  This was no fault of ours, but because of someones incompetence, our puzzles are being held hostage until we pay the ransom. This is absolutely a rip off. While I don't believe we should have to pay for someone else's mistake, we have no choice but to pay. If we don't, the puzzles will be confiscated.  Now we wait to get the bloody bill and hand over the cash.

This irritates me because I was calling and getting one excuse after the other about what was going wrong.  The only upside?  I've unboxed all but the disentanglement puzzles and the ceramic plates.  Our great room is empty again and awaiting the arrival of more puzzles.  

Let's make the week even worse. We have a sinkhole in the driveway at Puzzle Palace.  When the drain cleaners came by to do their work, they damaged the concrete holding the grate.  This caused a hole in the side of the sewer drain and all of the limestone and sand under our driveway washed away with the next big rain.  All is under control now, but it was just adding insult to injury.  

I'll be glad when the rest of the puzzles arrive.  I'm tired of waiting, and I'm tired of the uncertainty.  **Update** we were now told they will arrive on Friday.  How did this happen?  We paid the ransom.  On the bright side, at least we get to sleep in our own bed for the week.

In the mean time, we have devised a geolocation system for the house so now each puzzle can be found by name, and location.  This should help with the cataloguing and storage of the puzzles.  It took George and I about 2 hours to label the great room.  If we do one room a day, we will be done quickly and can then go on to opening and storing the puzzles. I'll head over this week and finish up the labeling of the ground floor.  The upstairs will have to wait until we get more shelves in or until after the puzzles have been unboxed.  

And my office desk has finally been cleaned...

Monday, June 21, 2021

Dexterity puzzles, sliding tiles, and yet another update

We have been working non-stop on unboxing puzzles.  Or should I say I've been unboxing while George puts together shelves and breaks down boxes.  We have a wonderful system going on now.  When unpacking, each piece of paper has to be flattened out because there are many small bits of paper in between each of these pieces.  Most of which are solutions that we don't want to lose.  After this, they are folded into quarters and placed into the empty packing boxes. These are then stacked under the stairs where they await our recycling guys who must hate us by now.  The last load was 39 boxes full of paper and countless others that were broken down.  

As of Sunday 20 June, I had unpacked all but 22 boxes from the first batch.  I've run into a problem.  We need glass shelves.  Our current system of buying out Ikea when they come in is no longer working.  I really need a better source.  This week I will tackle the dexterity puzzles while George builds another hanging wall.  I'm so surprise by the amount of MIP hanging puzzles we have from this collection.  The laundry room/bar walls are already filled and we haven't put up half of the puzzles that are available.  I intend to have the workmen come back in and install more of the peg system in both the laundry room and on the cabana bathroom walls. 

It is my intent to have all puzzles put in place, then go back through and catalogue each piece.  As new puzzles come in to Puzzle Palace, I photograph them and add the information to a spread sheet which George will then import into his database that I hope he will finish by next summer.  This is an immense undertaking and I now understand why James has only done around 20% of the cataloguing. This is a project that could only be done by a retired person or one whose full time job is only this.  I'm not complaining nor criticizing James for not finishing cataloguing the entire collection, just expressing the vast amount of time that will be involved.

While we wait for the next load of boxes to come in, I will be working on labeling all of the existing cabinetry.  While we know the items in each section, we have yet to label them geographically.  With this vast number of puzzles, we realize this is a necessity here.

Which of course brings me to today's puzzles.  Dexterity puzzles and sliding tiles.  I'll start with the latter.  We had fully intended to have everything in the HDM Puzzle Palace Museum follow the "display & play" policy we have in our own home.  Unfortunately, with these puzzles this has proven impossible. There are just too many of them to be able to do this with.  I have filled 2-47 inch x 36 inch drawers full of these things.  The puzzles had to be stacked on their sides to be able to accommodate all of the puzzles, and even that didn't work.  We have another drawer half filled with these things. 

The laundry room walls are completely covered in puzzles of this sort and I have plans to have the workmen return and build more for us. 

Dexterity puzzles are another batch that we have plenty of.  In this case, we have the metal cabinets that James sent along with us. These measure 24"x32" and are filled with all modern dexterity puzzles.  They take up 38 of the cabinet drawers.  

There are 6 drawers filled with water filled puzzles and another 2 1/2 map drawers filled with antique dexterity puzzles.  In the jigsaw library there are countless drawers filled with the more antique dexterity type puzzles.  

My favorite so far are the mercury filled puzzles.  These came in a plastic box with a note telling us of the content. I have placed them in a drawer on their own so I can easily show them to some of our 'older' guests.  

Here's hoping we get another truckload of boxes this week. I'm getting anxious about this now.  There is still so much left to do and I am determined to have everything up on shelves by October.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Small progress update

 Thus far we have recieved 251 boxes including the puzzle cabinets.  All of the cabinets have been placed where they belong and are now well on the way to being filled.  

Tuesday morning George and I took a drive south and picked up an additional 50 bookcase selves so I can finish placing the jigsaws and later so we can place the library books.  He managed to get them all installed the next day and now we are heading back to Sunrise for another 25 shelves and 18 glass shelves. This is the way our Ikea works. A few pieces at a time.  It's a good thing we have an electric car or we would be spending more on gas than the parts are worth. On Wednesday I decided I need a file cabinet.  As luck would have it, I found one on FaceBook marketplace that was a 20 minute drive north of here.  It's black and just the perfect size for the wall space I have for it in the garage.  Now I have a place I can store all of the extra sheets that have come along with the puzzles. These will take me years to sort out.   I've no system designed for it as of today and not even sure where to begin.  Thursday saw us driving back to Ikea for another 25 book shelves and 36 more glass shelves.  

As of Friday morning I've only 56 of the original 251 boxes left to unpack. I can't even begin to tell you what unpacking is like.  I flatten every piece of wrapping paper looking for extra pieces of puzzles, or wrapping papers that have been stuck in between.  It is torture for me.  I'm allergic to something in the boxes, or the paper and have a terrible rash on my forearms now.  I know it will go away when everything is unboxed, but for now it itches and hurts.  

The movers flaked out again.  We were to have all boxes delivered by Thursday but they texted and said it would be another week at least.  So much for pre-payment of delivery.  

George has been working on installing shelves and adding usable handles to some of the shelves we have. He doesn't unbox because he says he can't remember where he put things.  I have a very good memory for items and am much better suited to unpacking, but it makes for slow progress.

I wish I had a puzzle to feature today, but I've not played with any this week at all.  I have a few photos of some older moving piece puzzles to show for pure viewing pleasure. I spent many years searching for some of those puzzles only to open a box and find them here.  Some have only been prototyped, while others were (and some still are) commercially available in one color or another. 

As always, the HDM collection at the Puzzle Palace Museum is available for viewing by contacting George or myself.  I'll close here and go back to unboxing. If I'm lucky, I should be able to be finished before the next set of boxes arrives.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The first pieces have arrived

 On Wednesday 9 June we took possession of the first 251 boxes of puzzles.  When the workmen came to deliver them they were not at all happy to have to take them into the house. We explained that we had 2 steps to go up if they unloaded into the garage and that the garage was full anyway.  There was a lot of grumbling in Spanish about not wanting to do the work and I had a little hissy fit.  They have been paid for door to door delivery which means putting them where I want them.  They are lucky I didn't ask them to unpack.  

Well, 1/2 hour into the unpacking of the truck, I won them over with cold water.  Did I forget to mention we also had 3 other workers here helping?  Fast forward another hour and lunch was served.  Happy delivery men now!  I asked if they could bring back the furniture on the next trip and that is exactly what they did! We now have all of it installed where it will never be moved from again.  

Now starts the fun part.  It is time to unbox all of those puzzles.  I start with the jigsaw puzzles as those have a home already picked out.  Other boxes are not as easy to discern.  Some are simply marked "Puzzles".  Well duh!  All of these things are puzzles.  What's inside these boxes are supposed to be surprises I guess.  I'm eager to dig into all of these and get as much done as possible.  George says it's time for the fun to begin. Easy for him to say, he plays and breaks down boxes while I unpack. We each have our skill set. 

I went hell bent for leather and unboxed all of the jigsaw puzzles that came in.  This task took me two days. The dexterity puzzles took another two days, and folding puzzles took an afternoon.  I'm working on getting all 251 boxes finished before the next batch arrives. I'm sure it won't happen, but i'm going to give it a good try. 

We've opened a few boxes of wooden puzzles and they are the biggies. I'm sure there will be more to come, but for now they take pride of place in the great room.  I've boxes of glass bottles and china plates to open, but these sadly need to wait until we rent some scaffolding and the rest of the boxes come in.  

It's truly like Christmas here.  I've been having so much fun with this.  There is great joy when I unwrap a puzzle and see something I've never seen before, or when I see an old puzzle from my childhood.  There is even more excitement when I find a puzzle that I had lost, or had regrettably given away. 

Meanwhile this week, George made us two very heavy puzzles for the IPP wall.  We purchased some low slung gaming chairs, but had no tables to puzzle on.  He made our Paver Tables.  They each have 36 4" thick pavers that weigh 6 pounds each.  If you thought the Brass Monkey puzzles were heavy, think again. These are some very heavy puzzles.  No speed solving here.  I don't think we will be moving them any time soon.  Isn't he just so cool in his sunglasses?  He just had cataracts surgery and said the light bothered him.  Even though he wasn't supposed to do any heavy lifting for a month after, it didn't stop him from doing some heavy puzzling. 

Stay tuned for further updates coming soon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

What does it take to build a museum?

An old American frontier cookbook starts the recipe for Bear Paw Soup as follows:  "First kill a bear."  When trying to build a puzzle museum, first buy an extra house.  Realize that you have only started.

Our puzzles might be here by the time you read this. It's time that I post a bit about what we actually did to get ready for their arrival.

We bought a house to store them before we acquired the puzzles.  This house, now called Puzzle Palace Museum, is about 8 blocks from our home - easy walking distance.  In addition to cleaning out the museum to be, we had much extra work to turn it into a proper museum; to wit:

Change out all of the electrical lights for new low UV LCD lights. We installed 140 of these bulbs, and 11 flat panel lights in closets and the garage.  Of these, the house only had 94 original fixtures.  The rest were added to give light to various areas of the shelving. 

Repave the outside seating area and walk to the pool from the road. Remove all non-tropical trees and update the landscaping.  (This place was overgrown and jungle-like).

Build an outside garbage/recycling receptacle and storage shed.  This area was at one time to be an outdoor shower, but there wasn't one here when we bought the place so we added a roof and partially enclosed it.  

We wanted Puzzle Palace Museum to be "Display and Play".  Thus we needed shelves for over 50,000 puzzles.  To keep the cost to a manageable level we decided to buy out Ikea.  We installed 148 2x4 Kallax boxes, 12 2x2 Kallax boxes, 5 1x4 Kallax boxes, 37 Billy book cases, 23 Billy book case extenders, 1 single Billy book case, and 4 short Billy book cases.  All of which need to be assembled.  This comes to a total of 1248 Cubies.  Each book case is held in place to each other using 8 screws per Kallax box.  Every group of 3 Kallax's have 4 wall mounts using over 150 Tapcons in total. 

The workers drilled 14600 holes to install shelves in the cubies.  We installed 4 glass holding brackets per glass shelf using  3/8" flat head wood screws.  The total number of shelves installed in cubies comes to 1879.  

We also used 12 4x8 foot sheets of white skin to cover the seams on the bookcases and the Kallax boxes; 30 tubes of calk to seal any gaps in the Kallax boxes, 24 tubes of locktite to attach over 250' of trim, 250' of corner trim, and 176' of flat stock.

160' of chair rail, over 1000 dowels, and countless molly's to mount all of the Kallax boxes and chair rails.  3 4x8' sheets of peg board and 2000 pegs. 10 gallons of paint, and 32 grommets. 14600 holes were drilled in the Kallax boxes alone. 4 air conditioners and 75 solar panels have been installed.

8 gardeners, 5 tree trimmers, 4 electricians, 3 paver layers, 5 a/c installers, 4 solar workers and 4 general contractors.

2486 man hours.

12 cases of water, 140 Liters of soda, and twenty watermelons were consumed.

I prepared 328 lunches for all of the workers.

One hand-quilted banner 20'x4' proclaiming the name, Puzzle Palace Museum in Pentomino font. (Developed by George - Each letter of this font is made of all 12 pentominoes.)

Two 40-foot containers.

And finally, expect to blow your puzzle budget for the next ten years.  Fortunately my husband and I are on the same page: spend all of our money on puzzles.  This is much more than we originally expected.  We shall plug along with the monster task ahead of unpacking these 739 boxes of puzzles and furniture; curating them, and displaying them.  I hope we have anticipated the correct amount of display space.  Having over estimated wouldn’t be so bad in that we could use the extra space for future additions to the museum.  An underestimate would lead to a small panic.  I think we have room to build into the attic above the garage…

None of this work would have been done had it not been for an extraordinary group of workers that we hired.  For tree removal, we hired Total Garden. (954)237-1814.  The landscapers are our regular gardeners, Earth and Turf out of Boynton Beach (561)477-3202. Academy Electric from Pompano Beach (954)973-9693. Be More Cool LLC.  installed our air conditioning units (561)232-0887. Balderez Construction provided the paver work. (954)907-3407. Tesla Solar (888)765-2489. And finally our main contractor was Chilly Inc. (828)231-6113.  All of these workers come highly recommended.

I have reserved the entire summer for the task of finishing the museum.  The curation will take much longer.  George will be designing an online database this winter.  I shall be photographing all of the puzzles and entering all the ancillary information about each puzzle into a spreadsheet for later transfer into his database.  We expect to get a full-time caretaker for the museum by the start of next year.

And yes, there are bound to be some duplicates.  We have vowed not to sell or trade them for the first three years.  However, any puzzle donations not in this collection would be greatly appreciated, beautifully displayed, and acknowledged.

Monday, June 7, 2021

:A weekend of frustration

As the museum nears completion, we see more things that need doing.  Currently we are on a hunt for the glass shelves that need to go into the Kallax boxes. I have 282 of them coming in at the end of June.  I have 26 coming on Monday.  We just picked up 48 last Friday, and am hoping to convince George to let me travel to Tampa to pick up another 90.  Why is this an issue?  I need a total of 1800!  These seem to be rarer than many of the Berrocal's that I am hunting down.  We have gone through the house and drilled all of the holes for when we finally do get the pieces in.  At least we don't have that bit to do. 

On Thursday, I finally got the phone number for the shipping company here in the US.  As it turns out, the puzzles were sitting in a warehouse in Miami waiting.  Why?  Customs issues!  Apparently the packed boxes got all mixed up at the warehouse in the UK and the manifestos didn't match the contents of the containers.  This could have been disastrous.  Rather than let me suffer through that, they just kept me in the dark while it was sorted. Thankfully there was no Duty to pay, and no fines.  Add to that the clubs rule on no semi's and drivers who refuse to head north out of Ft. Lauderdale and you can now see why our puzzles are still not here almost 2 weeks after they were expected. 

The very nice gentleman who was working on this knew who I was even before I got my name out. Why? Because our last overseas residence was Hong Kong and he too had lived there.  After a bit of bonding over past experiences (or was that lamenting?) he mentioned that he could get me the first truck here on Saturday! Talk about exciting!  I was ready to shout it from the rooftops. I kicked the guys into gear and got all but the essential items removed from the museum.  I enlisted them to work the weekend to do some painting of cabinets as they come in and then eagerly awaited verification from the company of the Saturday delivery.

By Friday noon, I had no verification so I had to give a call.  Again I was told he would call back in a few minutes with a definitive reply. At 1 I left for my weekly card game and by 3:30 he finally called to tell me the boxes were so buried in the warehouse that they wouldn't be able to deliver until next week. I just wanted to cry!  Well, I guess it gives us more time to find more shelves and install them.  But now both containers are in that warehouse and my greatest fear has come true.  ALL of the boxes will arrive at one time!  No big deal, the garage is empty, I have a system set up to move boxes around to different areas of the house, George has built a new ramp for the back entry and we have 6 dollies here.  This will all work for us.  

And having said that, I want to thank my beautiful lover.  Without him and his craziness, this would have never happened.  We now realize that we really didn't think this museum thing through.  We just dove in head first and waited to see what would happen.  We are both as loony as the other.  He has been a great source of inspiration for the workmen.  With his experience, he's taught them a few new tricks for their work.  He's kept me calm, and has given in to (almost) all of my crazy requests for additional items or last minute changes.  We couldn't have done this without each other.  I finally get what a dear friend once told me.  "We are a team." I never understood that before. 

Another of our fanciful purchases was a set of carpets.  We ordered three 3D carpets of various designs from Nhala home and had them mounted on the garage doors.  This helps to soften the room a bit.  Surprisingly, by adding grommets to the carpets and mounting them directly to the metal on the garage door, it works.  The doors are able to open and close without interference, and it softens the harsh look of the metal on the garage doors. This was one of George's ideas that I tweaked.  I like the 3D effect.  The small garage door carpet reminds me of a tunnel I used to walk through on my way to the man house from the grocery store in Hong Kong. Now it leads to a much nicer putting green.  I wouldn't recommend getting carpets from this place for your home decoration, but they are just perfect for use in a garage. 

And to add insult to injury, we did go to Tampa and they were 6 shelves short. I then had my order for Monday canceled.  Why?  Because they sold out the pieces that I paid for! It was more expensive to have the shelves delivered to us than the shelves cost.  When I checked online at 4 am on Monday, the glass shelves that were cancelled-were now back on the shelves in Miami.  I can't seem to win with these.  George wrote a letter to Ikea corporate and we are hopeful that they can get us the extra shelves that we need.  It will be a massive order of 1600 shelves if we can get them.  He has worked out that it will take 2 months to install all of them.  Which of course means the Museum will take longer to unpack and shelve.  Can you tell I am frustrated by the need for shelves? 

And the beat goes on....

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Noodles, Photography and Databases

This week I'm going to show you two food puzzles from Japan.  I collect both twisty puzzles and food puzzles and this is the best of both worlds.  It's a standard Megahouse 3x3x3 puzzle, but is unique in that it is a favorite noodle in the shape of a puzzle.  I first purchased the first one from a re-seller on FaceBook and ended up paying 3 times the cost.  I should have known better. Live and learn.  The second I got directly from Amazon.  There are both the Green Tanukyubu and the Red Kitsune Udon available.  Even better, ships internationally. Both are so realistic looking in the packaging I had a dream last night about eating them.  Darn it all, I woke up craving noodles today.  They even come with the instructions in a 'seasoning packet'. How fun is that? With shipping, they are only $58 for the two.  Not too bad if you ask me.  

Last weekend in the States was Memorial Day Weekend.  A three day holiday for most.  The club has a "no laborers" rule for national holidays and George and I found ourselves with three free days!  Now I know we are retired and you are probably thinking all days are free, but you are wrong.  With the Museum build, we've been non-stop busy and have been unable to do much of anything that we really want to do.  

I supervise and cook for all of the workers.  George has been busy building shelves (he is now busy installing glass shelves into those shelves). With his cataracts surgery these past two weeks, we've barely had any time to do what we want to do. I've not put together a crystal puzzle in weeks and his new puzzle backlog is disgraceful.  I won't show you a photo of the bar area that has all the puzzles that need cataloging on it.  That is my great shame.  I've separated a large number of puzzles from the boxes and will be in need of help identifying them.  I'm so used to tossing the boxes (from living in HK) that I forgot I needed to know what I have.  In fairness though, I never thought that we would be housing a puzzle museum.  Now I need to know all of what we have.  Please bear with me when I ask for help in identifying these forgotten beauties. 

Well, this weekend gave me some time to remedy some of these little problems.  A while back I purchased a new light box from Amazon and a camera just to photograph puzzles with.  I'm not a professional by any means and really didn't/don't know what I'm doing but George is pleased with the results now.  First I add the acquisition number, then I enter any information I have about the puzzle on a spreadsheet. Photos are taken and then entered into a separate folder. At a later date, George will combine all of this information and enter it into an online database for all to see.  

On to the museum build.  Well, the day has come.  We are ready.  I now have handed the work crew the punch list.  They are going through all of the shelving units and drilling the holes where the glass shelves will be mounted.  The roof needs to be placed on the outdoor shed and the pool needs resurfacing. But that is just cosmetic stuff that won't hinder the installation of puzzles. We are ready to go.  Just waiting on them to arrive any day now.  A video of the mostly completed museum can be found on my youtube channel