Monday, June 14, 2021

Time On My Hands

Last year, when jigsaw puzzles were all the rage, I felt too abosorbed in washing groceries, making face shields, and gently rocking myself in the fetal position to jump on the bandwagon. Some friends even kindly offered to share their puzzles. I knew we had at least three in our game closet... puzzles that I saved in case of a zombie apocalypse or some such crisis, when we would all be securely ensconced in our home, and passing the time with wholesome, absorbing activities like piecing puzzles together and churning butter. Now I know, firmly, there are some things that will not (likely) happen, ever, no matter how much "free time" I have on my hands... puzzles, push-ups, deep organizing, writing a novel, alphabetizing, arranging my books by color, Tik Tok dancing, macrame. The list goes on.

And now? Now that people are meeting up, again, and making plans, when we can gather, and hang out? What do I do? Yeah, I brought out the three puzzles that were in our game closet. One is a world map framed in the flags of all nations. Another is a chart of the birds of North America, and the one Max and I chose to dive into is this tea cup puzzle. All three are 1,000 piece puzzles. I learned something that is fascinating me... I stare at the picture on the box, then go for the edges, and I want to make little piles of pieces that have like colors and patterns, but everything hangs on studiously staring at the box. Not Max. He wants nothing to do with the image of the finished puzzle, and managed easily with only observing the shapes, to make terrific progress. I can't get over that! We make an excellent puzzle team, and with our unique approaches we got pretty far, before taking a break. The one, critical, error, was starting this on the floor. It puts the puzzlers in an uncomfortable position, and makes the puzzle itself vulnerable to cats.

By the next day, Max was on to bigger and better things, and I had caught full-blown puzzle fever. I once stayed up until midnight, which is a long long way after my bedtime, lost in gold trimmed edges, rose petals, shadows, and tones of green. When I took breaks, I made an elaborate blockade to protect the finished sections from getting scattered, and keep loose pieces from being absconded by cats. The trouble is, eventually, disaster did strike, when one of the cats took a running slide across the blanket I laid over my project.

The damages amount to about one sitting session's worth of work, and when I determined it wasn't too bad and got down on the floor to restore it all, I became overwhelmed, unfortunately. I was loving puzzling, and felt a strong committment to seeing all the tea cups put together. I loved solving the mystery of one teeny brushstroke leaf, and where it could possibly fit. I loved the triumph and success of each snap, as I made match after match. But sitting on the floor and leaning over 1,000 pieces... well, it started to feel daunting, and it's not as though there aren't other hobbies, demands, interests, chores, and things to do! I felt the pull between seeing this through, and walking away. I wish we had started the puzzle on a table, at least. Can you tell I am still grappling? I do appreciate the moments when I am face to face with a drama of privilege, of no consequence, and I have nothing but the luxury of fretting, while laughing, about this terrible predicament!


Ruth said...

Hello again. Holly is pretty crazy into puzzling, too. She recently got a favorite puzzle from a puzzle exchange, which is like a little free library, only, well, you know....with puzzles. Don't you think that is a grand idea?

Kristin said...

I've been a puzzler from way back! My friend and I will sit for hours and put puzzles together. I try to wait for her if we've started one and can't get it finished. But it is HARD. haha. Our local library even has a puzzle competition each year. We're thinking of entering it this year. 2 hours to see which team comes closest to completing the puzzle. Sounds like fun!! Happy puzzling.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Oh! For sure! I know all about Holly's puzzle love. We did the Christmas cookie puzzle together... I think that was in 2003, or 4, and another time we did a puzzle when we were all at a cabin Idyllwild. It must be in the genes, because if Geoff starts a puzzle, nothing will stop him from completing it! A Little Free Puzzle (Games) Library is brilliant! Actually, our own library needs fixing up... maybe I should take puzzle boxes into consideration for our next version!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

You should totally enter the competition! That's so cool! Now I'm a bit fixated on the question: How far could I get if I worked on a puzzle for 2 hours?? What's your strategy?