Studies have shown that when we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain. Even if that isn’t true, puzzles are useful for the enjoyment and relaxation they can bring.
My siblings and I started young and did lots of them while we were growing up, beginning with a Zorro puzzle that Mom kept together in a shoe box long after the original box became dilapidated.
The ET puzzle was a Christmas gift to our family. The year we received it, we became snowbound in Carroll, IA, and had to stick around for a few days. Snow play, monopoly marathons, and puzzles filled some of the time so we didn’t drive Mom and Dad crazy, with so many people in the house.
My 18 year old granddaughter loves puzzles and completes them very fast. We trade them back and forth. I like to savor my work on it, so we are different in that way.
It’s quite disappointing if there’s a missing piece or two. I like how my daughter-in-law, Amy, writes on the bottom of the box, something like “missing 2 pieces”. At least then you know.
Sometimes, the missing piece is in Dan’s pocket, where he has kept it stashed until the end, so that he can triumphantly insert the last piece and finish the puzzle.
And sometimes, it’s in the kitchen junk drawer, where I remember seeing its waywardness and wondering where it belongs.
Mom would buy puzzles from garage sales, enjoying the gamble that maybe they were complete.
If a piece is irretrievably lost, I create a replacement by putting white cardboard under the missing space and outline the piece. Then I cut it out (in double, if needed, glued together, to match the thickness of the other pieces) and paint a matching color or design on the cardboard. When it’s all put together, you can hardly tell that it’s not an original.
For my birthday last year, I received an intricately designed constellations puzzle. It was frustratingly difficult at times, but I stuck with it. About 3/4 of the way through, I KNEW some pieces were not there. I searched the floor 3 times, shook Dan down pretty hard, ha ha, and thought how I would let the company know of this imperfection. I would tell them that we have no dogs or children who could have carried them off.
Customer service was excellent, and very efficient in getting those pieces to me, with a handwritten note in a letterpress card, after I sent them the picture. Plus, they promised to send me a whole new puzzle, my choice!
Some people say they can’t sit still long enough to do a puzzle. I tell them that I stand when I do mine because it’s easier to see all of the pieces, and to reach for some of them, especially if there are 1000 pieces.
Lighting is sometimes an issue with puzzles. Even with good interior lights, there is often an annoying glare. So, it is best to put them together next to a window, in daylight, I think.
A couple of years ago, we were in Galena, IL. It was December, and the narrow, curving street was adorned with real evergreen garland. There was a charming puzzle shop where I found a winter themed puzzle. This was the first puzzle I ever did without doing the border first, but focusing on interior subjects.
All of this talk of puzzles reminds me of a movie I watched recently on a TV movie channel. It was called “Puzzle”, a 2018 drama. It was a surprisingly good story, about a suburban housewife who is always doing for others. Even at her own birthday party, she is the one planning, decorating, serving, and cleaning up.
One of her gifts is a jigsaw puzzle, which she puts together very fast. This leads to her going into NYC, (for the first time ever!) to a puzzle shop, which opens up her life in many ways.
I’m going to take a break from puzzles for awhile, and reintroduce my body to the cold, and winter walk explorations, which I used to do often. When I’m in the mood for a puzzle again, I’ll do this one, borrowed from Clara, (who purchased it @spruceomaha).
I hope you are finding time for puzzle play in your life!