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"The Chief Tormentor"
The Deliciously Devilish Blog of Puzzling News From Staveland

TAG | Blackberry Farm

Apr 27

Friends One and All

A Reunion

We just wrapped up another successful, funfilled, spirited weekend at Blackberry Farm. We look forward to this every year and it never disappoints. I’ll try my best to give you a feel for what it’s like but I know I can’t do it justice. Soon after we organized the tables and unpacked the puzzles, Michael arrived to stake his claim. He’s got a favorite puzzling spot and wasn’t taking any chances someone else might grab it. We also made sure to have Victor’s big, comfy chair ready. He doesn’t puzzle but likes to keep his wife company, in addition to providing much entertainment for the rest of us. What a character!

When everyone arrived and got settled in, it was like a family reunion. We have 3 couples who have attended all 6 Blackberry Farm events and many others who’ve come multiple times. In addition to the 3 couples, this year included 3 mother-daughter kinships, 1 father-daughter, 2 sisters, 2 friends, and an engaged couple. Our group spans 7 decades! It makes us so proud that Stave can bring about this kind of connection. It really demonstrates the intrinsic value of puzzling together.

6 Degrees of Separation

While we love our old friends, we always encourage new guests, so it was with open arms that we welcomed a young couple from NYC. When they arrived at the Guest House and asked, “Who’s in charge?” Several unruly puzzlers in our group quickly claimed the title. Thankfully, Carol stepped up and greeted them but not before they had gotten a quick view of what they were in for. True camaraderie.

We ’ve alway s felt puzzlers are a tight knit group and here’s the proof in the pudding. Over the course of the weekend it was discovered that Rob & Debra, from NY, have a daughter who attends Duke. Guess who her roommate is? First time attendee, puzzler Carol’s, daughter, from Boston! What are the odds of that?!

But wait. It gets better. Remember our new puzzlers from NYC? We discovered that Matt went to Dartmouth and graduated with Carol’s (Stave’s Carol) daughter, Inga. He’s even been to Carol’s VT house. And, he’s friends with a young man I used to babysit.

They were meant to be part of our group, for sure.

Jennifer, already missing my buddies.


What Was He Thinking?

Have you been catching Steve’s crazy mystery photo contest? If you have, then you’re getting a very clear picture of just what a kook he really is! Steve has been taking intriguing photos of various things and posting them on his blog and our PuzzleNuts website, If you’re the first person to correctly guess what is shown, you win a $25 gift certificate. If no one guesses correctly, the prize gets rolled over to the next week. Here are a few shots from previous weeks.

This is a shot that Steve posted…  What is going on here?

Take a close look and you’ll see wing tip impressions in the snow. Steve and Martha think a hawk swooped down and grabbed whatever was running through the snow. They have a Coopers Hawk that uses their backyard bird feeders as its fast food outlet.

Here’s another shot. What is it???

We had some great guesses for this: a soda-bottle rocket toy sitting on its “launch pad” (i.e. the top of a two liter bottle), One of those pull-down cork screws to open wine bottles on Valentine’s Day, The knob to an air tank to fill balloons.

But E.M guessed correctly: It’s a party noise-maker/clacker!

This is the latest photo.

Go to the Tormented Tuesday page for more information and details on how to place your guess.
You could be the next winner of a $25 gift certificate.


Feb 15

Puzzle Weekend: Bring on the Fun!


Last I heard there were only a couple of spots left to join us at our Puzzle Party at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN, February 18-20. It’s a beautiful place to spend some time and we always have a blast at this event. Fellow Staver Carol, and her husband, Hank, will be joining me and Rick. Come see us. We promise to thoroughly entertain and puzzle you!! for more information.
For reservations call Blackberry Farm, 800-648-4252.

Oct 12

Let Us Entertain You!

stave party

Plenty of Opportunity

I know many of you were disappointed you couldn’t make it to our 35th Anniversary Celebration in July. Maybe you had a wedding to attend that weekend or the in-laws were coming for a visit. I’m here to make your day. There are three more opportunities coming up to join us for some puzzling fun!!! One of these dates is bound to work for you.

Twin Farms
November 12-14, 2010

If you’ve been itching to meet the Chief Tormentor, this is your chance. Twin Farms is a unique country estate get-away on over three hundred acres in Barnard, Vermont, just 35 minutes from Stave. We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Twin Farms for many years and you’ll always find loads of Stave Puzzles to enjoy during your stay there. But on November 12th to the 14th, Steve and Paula will be puzzling guests. You may even see a few other faces from Stave during the weekend so don’t miss it. We promise you’ll have a great time. (Shh, word has it you may even get a tour of the Stave workshop!!)

The Point
January 29-31, 2011

Many of you probably remember Carol. She’s been with Stave for almost as long as Steve. Carol’s been retired for a few years now but every now and again we’re able to bring her back to the real world. One of those times will be in January when we puzzle guests at The Point. The Point Resort is a unique, private Adirondack estate amid Adi rondack Mountai n wilderness. Carol and her husband Hank have been hosting this gig for many years and look forward to it each and every year. Carol has almost as many stories as Steve and she loves to share them so call The Point today and tell them you want to puzzle with Stave in January.

Blackberry Farm
February 18-20, 2011

Located in Walland, TN., Blackberry Farm is situated on a pastoral 4,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains. This is my favorite puzzling event because Carol and I host it with our husbands. We have a great following that’s developed over the years, with many guests returning year after year. There’s nothing like spending time doing something you love with other who love to do it, too. Puzzlers are a great group of people.

What Do We Do At A Puzzle Party?

party balloonEach party is a little different but you can be sure there will always be lots of puzzling time. In addition to quiet* puzzling time, we play several games using specially cut puzzles. Here are a few you might play at a party you attend.


This games uses a puzzle that’s around 7” x 7,” cut into 25 largish pieces. We have several sets of puzzles of the same image, each one cut into 25 pieces. You race against the other contestants to see who can complete their puzzle the fastest.

One Up, One Down

This game is played in teams of two. Each team has a 25 piece puzzle. It starts with one person seated in front of the puzzle while their partner is standing behind them. At the word Go!, the person seated searches to fit two pieces together. When they’ve fit two pieces together they stand up and switch places with their partner. You can only fit a piece if you are seated in the chair. First team to complete their puzzle wins! I love to listen to the person standing behind their partner. Talk about back seat drivers!!!

party star2Relay Race

This game is a hoot to watch. Picture this… several tables at the end of the room with unassembled puzzles, one for each team. The teams, usually 4 puzzler per team, line up behind a taped line that’s around 6 feet from the puzzle table. The first player of each team races up to their puzzle at the word Go! and searches to find a match. When they have fit two pieces together (and only two!) they race back and tag the next person in line. Reaching across the line is legal and boy, you’ll be amazed how far some people can stretch their arms!

Demolition Derby

This is another game that’s hysterical to watch. Here’s the scene: We set up the group in teams, usually 3 or 4 people per team. We use puzzles with identical images for this game and we take the same four pieces from each team’s puzzle and place them on a table in the center of the room, mixing them up. The remaining pieces from each puzzle are disassembled and placed in front of the players. At the word Go! the team races to put their puzzle together, all the while knowing they’re missing 4 pieces. Once their puzzle is complete they can race up to the table with the assorted pieces, select one piece and only one piece, race back to their puzzle and try for a match. It gets pretty crazy as each team completes their partial puzzle and starts racing up to the table. Invariably, someone else will have the piece you are searching for so it’s a real lesson in patience. We haven’t had any broken bones yet, only tons of laughs!

party star*Don’t expect quiet if Bryan, Jomary and Michael are puzzling. They’re our regular troublemakers at Blackberry;)

Pick your party and join us!


Aug 2

Richmond, Virginia Comes to Vermont

In a surprise visit this wonderful customer from Richmond, Virginia popped in for a visit. She and her husband are staying at nearby Twin Farms resort. She regularly comes to our Blackberry Farm Party in February.


Mar 13

Down on the Farm

If you werenít at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN., last weekend then you missed out on a great time! Carol and I, along with our husbands, Hank and Rick, entertained folks with tons of puzzles and several rounds of crazy puzzling competitions. We enjoyed great food, great wine and most importantly, great camaraderie.

This was our 5th year puzzling folks at Blackberry Farm and we welcomed lots of familiar faces as well as several new ones, too. Itís so nice to see our puzzlers settle into old friendships and making new ones, as well. Puzzlers are a welcoming group and those traveling alone were quickly gathered into the fold.

If you want plenty of uninterrupted puzzling time, to work as many puzzles as you desire, with a terrific group of people all while being pampered in the beautiful surroundings of the Smoky Mountains, then join us next February at Blackberry Farm!

molliAce Puzzler, Molli, was the grand prize winner of the 250 piece Traditional puzzle of her choice. Do you think sheíll let her friend, Jane B, help her choose the puzzle?!

One of the most exciting games we played at the party was a Relay Race. Teams raced against each other to be the first to complete their 25 piece puzzle. Players line up and race, one at a time, across the room to the puzzle table. When they fit two pieces together they race back to the line, tag their teammate and off they go! Much fun and laughter was had by all!


Puzzlers Unite! Puzzled guests work as a team to try to get it all together.

bbf puzzlers

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