Tag Archives: jigsaw

A Haibun about Jigsaws and Dementia.

This is my entry for the British Haiku Society Haibun Competition. It was either successful (because it was  honourably mentioned), or unsuccessful because it didn’t win. It has been mentioned on the website and is in the latest edition of Blithe Spirit, and the final haibun is quoted, so I presume it is now OK for me to reprint it. It is the second haibun I have written, featuring Dad and jigsaws. As some people have written books and plays about such things I suppose two haibun is not excessive, but it does worry me that I go back to old subjects – at what point does it become boring. That’s the reason I’ve generally (but not entirely) avoided COVID – we are all living through it, how many poems do we need?

Falling Into Place

years pass
children become strangers
—his new world

Jigsaws became an important part of our lives. First, as conversations became more difficult, we used them to pass the time. Later we used them to stimulate Dad’s thinking and slow the progress of the condition. Finally we used them to measure his decline. A man who once ran a company struggled with a jigsaw designed for a toddler. My sister bought new ones as they were needed, each with fewer pieces than the one preceding it.

He had been an active and successful man, and thousands of events had formed his life. Gradually they faded away. This frustrated him in the beginning but as he sank into the strange new world of dementia he came to accept it as a comforting place. I was happy to see him become contented. Then, one day, he asked me who I was.

the mirror cracks
a fractured smile

When we cleared his room my sister picked up the nine-piece jigsaws and suggested we donate them to the care home. She checked with me.

You don’t want them, do you?”

Not yet.” I say.

Our new invention – the Pigsaw


I admit that there’s an element of ambiguity in the name, as it could possibly be a new butchery tool, but if you look at the pictures all will become clear. It’s a pig jigsaw but in the modern way (think Brangelina or spork, or even blog) I thought it would be good to coin a new word. Shakespeare invented 1,700 new words so I thought it would be good to have a go. Only 1,699 to go. Sadly, looking at the web, it seems that someone has already come up with pigsaw. I thought I might try a witty sentence here, using some of Shakespeare’s 1,700 words, but after having my new word snatched from my grasp I have lost heart.

It’s been a team effort – idea from Julia, drawing from me, cutting out by Men in Sheds and painting by the group.

The main debate is now what we put behind the pieces. We were originally going to cut up a poster showing joints of pork but we’re now thinking that it might be better to use interesting pig facts. It’s more educational that way, and less traumatic for vegetarians and small children.

We have now launched the first stage of the new blog pages – one for each member of the group. Go to the “Individual Pages” tab and select a name. So far I’ve only put a photograph on each one but next week we’ll be adding some text as people decide what they want to discuss about their time on the farm.

Finally, we wrapped up the day with a meeting for the volunteers who will be helping on Open Farm Sunday and a quick trip to Nottingham for a second meeting. I didn’t have to go to the second one, I just dropped Julia off. She has more stamina than I do.


Only two points of interest today.

Julia went to the physio today – they say it’s just a sprain, but she can go back in a few weeks if it doesn’t clear up. We’ve heard this before, so we’ll see.

On a brighter note, the touch pad on my computer is now working again. Sometimes computers can be quite perplexing.




End of term…

It’s cold, it’s raining and it’s grey. I’m resisting the temptation to indulge in likening this to my state of mind.

Apart from the poultry the main task of the day has been the 500 piece jigsaw puzzle of the UK. It’s filled a rainy day and hopefully added a bit to the general store of knowledge.

We’ve also been making birds out of sheets of foam and reading horoscopes, so I’m also having to resist the temptation to tell people what I really think about horoscopes. I finally got drawn in and next thing I knew I was looking up horoscopes on the web. We now know what animals we are in the Burmese horoscope system – including tuskless elephants and guinea pigs.  No, I’m not convinced by the guinea pig either.

Whether a system based on the day of your birth is actually more reliable than one based on date or year is open to debate. Well, not really, as they are clearly all inaccurate, but as a bit of fun it’s interesting to see a different system.

As I write, someone has very kindly made me a cup of tea, and in giving it to me they have laid a trail of tea across the pile of freshly printed papers on my desk. It’s been that sort of day.

The bird feeder has been crowded with goldfinches, which is a cheery sight. Unfortunately they are chasing off all other visitors and so far we’ve seen a greenfinch, a pair of great tits and a dozen chaffinches put to flight. As the others have no interest in nyger seed, and the the goldfinches show little interest in the rest of the food I’m not really sure what they are defending, but such is life.

We’ve counted a massive flock of around 100 jackdaws (with a few rooks) in the field behind the feeder. They used to visit in numbers (up to 40 at a time) when we had the pigs (and pig food) in the field but we’re not sure what’s attracting them today. It may just be a rehearsal for a horror film. As the day drew to a close they took up residence in the “buzzard tree” before setting off to roost.

We have had two new goats born. The mother is refusing to feed them at the moment, which is about par for the course with our goats. We are great with pigs and OK with sheep but goats have been a problem.


Anyway, it’s the end of the day and I’m in possession of a smile and a carefree attitude as the day draws to a close. We’re off tomorrow and neither of us are working until Monday so we are going on what we refer to as a “holiday”. This one involves a trip to Suffolk to see family and pick up two computers donated to the group by one of my brothers in law.

Tomorrow we’re having a big push on housework and odd jobs and I’m going to fill the fridge for Number 1 son. After that I’m off for three days sight-seeing and eating fried food.


We count the cash…

We raised nearly £500 for the centre on Saturday, so it was a worthwhile day. The kitchen and tombola staff are all due a big vote of thanks.

It’s not a huge amount compared to the teens of thousands of pounds you hear about when people get grants, but  if you don’t qualify for a grant £500 takes a lot of earning. Last time I helped raise money for a project we packed bags at supermarket checkouts. On average we earned about £200 for a day’s effort.

Despite my support for the reuse of carrier bags I can’t help feeling that this has played a part in the downturn in fundraising – once people started using significant numbers of their own bags they started to be keener on doing it for themselves. Down goes plastic bag use, down goes charity funding, up goes food poisoning (if scientists can be believed) and up (I suspect) go sales of plastic bin liners. Yes, didn’t think about that did they – politicians either already buying new bags for that or having their housekeepers do it for them. (Actually, when I checked up on this it seems sales of bags to line bins don’t go up that much. However, my opinions on politicians remain unchanged.)

That was bad, compared to the money we used to be able to earn from packing bags, but I suspect it would be worse these days as so many of the kids you see doing it spend most of their time standing round looking at their various electrical devices.

Before this becomes a “things aren’t what they used to be” post I will change subject.

We’ve been given the left-overs from the local school Christmas fair. These include jig-saws, giant dominoes and a version of Twister.

At the moment we’re testing everything out. As you can see from the picture (if you can see anything from it at all – sorry about the lack of composition) we have some work to do, but it’s proving to be useful for stretching and exercise. It’s also been revealing to see who has a nasty competitive streak in their character.