One beautiful, warm day this summer, Jim and I were sitting in the backyard watching puffy white clouds float by. We would survey the changing shapes and use our imagination to identify various animals. The clouds presented us with an ever-changing puzzle. I wonder if cloud puzzles were the inspiration for hidden picture puzzles. Wherever the inspiration came from the hidden picture puzzles are my husband’s favorite and have given him hours of enjoyment searching the pages.

A puzzle is a game, problem, or toy that tests a person’s ingenuity. In some puzzles, you are required to put pieces together, in a logical way, in order to arrive at the correct solution of the puzzle. 

Just discussing puzzles with others, we found out that everyone has their own favorite.

An old example of a puzzle is the hedge maze. A hedge maze is an outdoor garden maze or labyrinth in which the walls or dividers between passages are made of vertical hedges. In our area of the country, we often see advertisements for a corn maze.  They seem to be especially popular around Halloween. Some farmers will hold a fall festival, and design a corn maze as the main attraction. If you have not traveled through a maze you should try one this fall. Just make sure it is not a haunted maze, or you may get spooked more than you expect.

Other puzzles that help people fill hours of time include dot-to-dot, word search, brainteasers, trivia, Acrostic, Diagramless, and other interlocking word games, jumble word, word ladders, cryptograms and intriguing picture puzzles.

Puzzles are often created as a form of entertainment, but they can also come from serious mathematical or logistical problems. In such cases, their solution may be a significant contribution to mathematical research. The solution of a puzzle often requires the recognition of patterns and the creation of a particular kind of order. People with a high level of inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving such puzzles than others. But, puzzles based upon inquiry and discovery may be solved more easily by those with good deduction skills. Deductive reasoning improves with practice.

 A lot of people have become addicted to Sudoku. Sudoku was originally called Number Place, a logic-based, number-placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9 by 9 grid with digits so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3 by 3 sub-grids that compose the grid, contains all of the digits from 1 to 9. The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid, which for a well-posed puzzle has a unique solution. The puzzle was popularized in 1986 by the Japanese puzzle company Nikoli, under the name Sudoku, meaning single number. It became an international hit in 2005.

The first jigsaw puzzle was created around 1760, when John Spilsbury, a British engraver and cartographer, mounted a map on a sheet of wood, which he then sawed around the outline of each individual country on the map. He then used the resulting pieces as an aid in teaching geography.

Puzzles can be divided into many, many categories. For example a maze is a type of tour puzzle. The number of pieces for an adult puzzle can range between one to 499 pieces up to 5000 pieces. The more pieces to a puzzle, the more complex the puzzle will be. Some other categories are construction puzzles, stick puzzles, tiling puzzles, transport puzzles, disentanglement puzzles, lock puzzles, folding puzzles, combination puzzles, and mechanical puzzles. There are thousands of computer puzzle games and a great many puzzles based upon letters, words, and mathematics.

An anagram jigsaw is a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces can be arranged in two different ways, providing two correct solutions. The Rubik’s Cube and the Soma Cube are examples of mechanical puzzles. Such combination puzzles can be stimulating toys for kids or recreational activities for adults.

A puzzle box is a puzzle that can be used to hide something, such as, jewelry. They are unique and challenging containers, with a rich history. Puzzle boxes or secret boxes are sequential mind benders that may require many steps or moves before they will open. Before you can make your moves with the puzzle box, you have to try to find out what moves.

Unlike puzzle boxes made in other regions of the world, American puzzle boxes may employ many different types of locking mechanisms that could include, pins, magnetics, gravity, or inertia. American puzzle boxes are typically known for their original designs often featuring wholesome American symbology and icons. Many American puzzle boxes can also be rightfully categorized as brainteasers because their solutions are so un-orthodox.

Considered by some to be the most intricate and beautiful brain benders are the Japanese wooden puzzle boxes, covered in complicated patterns of rich wood inlay and featuring complex brain bending mechanisms to open them. At first glance, they appear smooth and without any opening, but some boxes take up to 60 movements to solve.

Japanese Puzzle Boxes are called himitsu-bako in Japan, which translates to personal secret box. The first Japanese puzzle boxes were designed over 100 years ago in the Hakone region of Japan. The mountains in this region are known for their amazing variety of trees. Japanese puzzle boxes take advantage of these natural wood colors and textures to produce their elaborate geometric patterns. The techniques used to make these puzzle boxes have been used for generations in Japan and have been surpassed by none.

The finest Japanese puzzle boxes are still made in the Hakone region of Japan. There are very few traditional puzzle box artisans and for a while it seemed almost like a dying art.

The next time you work on a jigsaw puzzle, solve a word game, play a table puzzle at Cracker Barrel while waiting for dinner, locate an animal in a picture puzzle or play with a Rubik Cube, you are joining millions of people who enjoy solving puzzles. Puzzles are a wonderful way to train your memory and attention with scientific brain games. You may get frustrated, but you will also have fun.   

Lobster and steak

The general public is invited to enjoy a lobster and steak bake on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. The bake will be held at the Van Rensselaer Lodge, in East Greenbush.  Tickets are $25 for either steak or lobster. Both are available for $35.  In addition, to the above-mentioned the meal will include a baked potato, cole slaw, corn on the cob, lemonade or iced tea, and a brownie with ice cream. Take out orders will be available.

For reservations or further information, contact Nancy Condo at 477-7101 or Barbara South at 477-4929.

Brooks BBQ

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Altamont Fire Department will hold their annual Brooks BBQ on Friday, Sept. 12.  It will be held at the Altamont fire house from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

A full dinner is $10, rib dinner is 11.50, child’s dinner is $7, and half chicken is $7.

This dinner is take-out only with drive thru service.

Giffy’s barbecue

The public is invited to enjoy Giffy’s barbecue dinner on Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Guilderland Center Fire Department from 3 to 5 p.m. This event is sponsored by the Helderberg Reformed Church. Tickets are $10 per dinner paid on or before Sept. 10; $11 per dinner Sept. 11 through 14 or until all are sold. Eat in or take out service will be provided.

Tickets may be purchased at the church office on Main St., Guilderland Center from 9 to 11 a.m., or any day from GCFD members. Dinners will be available for eat in or take out. 


The second annual Oktoberfest sponsored by Cyrene Temple, 18 will be held on Sept. 27. It will be held at the Oriental Shrine Center, 75 Plant Road in Troy, from 5:30 p.m. until ?????? There will be a dinner, a cash bar, music, and drawings.

This is a fund-raiser for Cyrene Temple and the Daughters of the Nile Foundation in their efforts in supporting the Shriners Hospitals. 

Save the date, with more information forthcoming.

Summer concert series

Thanks and appreciation is extended to the Altamont Free Library, its many volunteers, the Community Arts Grants, and a program funded by the Arts Center of the Capital Region through the State and Local Partnership Program of the New York state Council on the Arts. 

Additional funding has been provided by the Altamont Free Library, the village of Altamont, and Mio Vino.

The series ended on August 5th. 

New life

Congratulations are extended to Kristen  (Hillman) and Sam Schipano of Voorheesville on the birth of their first child. Lillian Grace was born on Aug. 21, at 6:54 p.m. weighing seven-pounds and five ounces, and18-inches in length at Bellview Hospital.


Happy-anniversary wishes are extended to:

— Carol and Ron Lindell celebrating their special day on Sept. 2; and 

— Dorothy and Neil Taber on Sept. 3.


Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:

— Laura DeNucci and Jim Schiltz on Aug. 29; 

— Shirley Neet and Donald Strever on Aug. 30;

— Pam Klarsfeld Brunk, Robert Haviland, Robert Masamillo, Amy Scherer, and Andy  

Scherer on Aug. 31;

— Linda Rabbin on Sept. 1;

— Maureen Cardone, Kerry Farley, Corrie Elizabeth Paeglow, Steve Suuriano, and Paul Trendell on Sept. 3; and,

— Sherry Makepeace Sands on Sept. 4.


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