Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Puzzling Through COVID-19

Larchmont Village resident and puzzler for a purpose Tracy Mulholland (photo on left from Instagram)

This story has been updated.

Everyone has been challenged during this pandemic, some of us more than others. But Larchmont Village resident Tracy Mulholland has decided to puzzle her way through the stay at home orders. She’s managed to find a way to both help herself and others in the process.

Several years ago, Mulholland contracted Lyme disease, which left her immune system compromised. As a result, Mulholland, no relation to the more famous LA resident William Mulholland, decided she had to dramatically limit her physical interaction with the outside world. An actress, producer and filmmaker, Mulholland, told the Buzz she was used to living with uncertainty. But she said her recovery process from Lyme disease gave her tools to her make the adjustments she’s had to make during the pandemic.

“I also think people who have or had a long-term/chronic illness, physical and mental, have experience with being in a holding pattern, having life stalled, staying inside, altering social life and forced to accommodate changes you can’t control,” explained Mulholland. “When I got Lyme in 2011, the first two years I stayed inside except for the few days I tried to go for a walk.  I had food delivered and did not travel, go to restaurants, or have a social life!”

To keep her sanity, Mulholland rediscovered her love of jigsaw puzzles which she told the Buzz helps her calm her brain so she can write. Unable to work, Mulholland is relying on unemployment to keep herself going but she wanted to help out so she came up with the idea of creating an online fundraiser in lieu of a party for her birthday this year. Her plan was to do a puzzle a week, post on social media and invite friends to donate to five nonprofits that are doing work that is meaningful to her.

Mulholland told the Buzz why she selected the following nonprofits:

  • The Conscious Kid is dedicated to equity and promoting healthy racial identity development in youth. She wanted to support its work with organizations, families, and educators in taking action to disrupt racism in young children.
  • The Bay Area Lyme Foundation which provide facts for the end of a narrative film she created about her experience with the disease.
  • The Asian American’s Advancing Justice, an advocacy organization, works to counter the racism that Asians have experienced since the onset of the pandemic. (And Mulholland highly recommends their free online course about what we can all do to stand up to racist behavior instead of just standing by.)
  • The NAACP Legal Defense Fund works to protect voting rights among many other issues.
  • And, lastly, Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, which works to prevent gun violence.

Mulholland is from Sandy Hook and attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. “Sandy Hook is really personal, Mulholland told the Buzz. “I am reminded every time I am home to visit.”  Every holiday, she said, there are 26 stars lit up on the local fire house, commemorating the lives of those adults and mostly children who were killed in the massacre, thought Mulholland is not sure she’ll be able to travel home this year because of the pandemic. So instead she’s hoping to help out with her fundraising efforts.

In the process of creating her fundraiser, Mulholland has really honed her puzzling skills and her opinion of what makes a good puzzle. She says she usually works on 1000 or 750 piece puzzles, but if you want something quick, she recommends a 300 piece puzzle, which she can do in one day with her nephew.

Mulholland says she also likes to shop direct with the puzzle companies, rather than through a big online retailer, because she wants to support the puzzle company directly. Her favorite, Buffalo Games, just re-opened its site a few months ago, and apparently the demand for puzzles have been very high. She also recommended Cobble Hill which also recently re-opened its site, and Vermont Christmas Company, which often has good sales.

It’s the quality of the cardboard and the cut that makes a good puzzle. Mulholland likes a puzzle that clicks when you put in a piece so you know it’s the correct piece. She also prefers puzzles that aren’t too big — 18×24 inches or 18×20 inches are good sizes — and won’t take up your whole table.

To start, Mulholland reached out to some of her favorite puzzle companies (Ceaco Puzzles and Jiggy Puzzles) which sent her puzzles to help our her efforts. She’d like to give them away to people who could benefit from the gift of a puzzle. If you know someone, you can contact her by email at [email protected]. You can also find her on Instagram, where you can also find links to make donations to Mulholland’s beneficiaries, or you can donate directly to the non-profits.

Mulholland updated us that as of today she has raised, “$1,360 of donations for all nonprofits with 5 days to go! I counted and I will have done 13,650 puzzle pieces since April when I finish these last two puzzles! :)” Mulholland will end her fundraiser on Sept 22 welcomes people to donate directly on the sites after that date, asking only to let her know if they do.

That’s a lot of puzzling and good deed doing!

Puzzler Tracy Mulholland with one of her recently completed puzzles. (photo from Tracy Mulholland)




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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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