The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Month of Fundays: Day 13 – Putting Together a Jigsaw Puzzle


1. A game, toy or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge.

1. Solve or understand something by thinking hard.

Apparently I am eighty. Seriously, my weekend fun day activity is putting together a puzzle with my husband. Wow, I’m lame. And we had a really good time: I’m old, lame and crazy. But really, when’s the last time you put together a puzzle? Or did some other brain game like Sudoku or a crossword puzzle? Sometimes we need to slow down and concentrate on a mind working project so we don’t get old.

Chris and I sat down to do a 500 piece Thomas Kincade puzzle, which I received as a gift at least a year ago. I like puzzles, but it’s just not something you think about doing with all of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Yet, most of us think about sitting down in front of the TV every night. Puzzles equal more brain work than TV – go, do a puzzle.

What Makes the Puzzling Fun
That’s a puzzle. I am so cliché tonight. But I don’t really know. I mean we sat down and then Chris went to go get his puzzle mat – yes, he has a puzzle mat. He is clearly older, lamer and crazier than I. Then we spent some time turning all of the pieces over and sorting out the edge pieces. Side note: Before he met me Chris never sorted the edge pieces out. He always sorted by color alone and then just began putting pieces together willy-nilly. (Yep, I just used ‘willy-nilly’.) Now, he still sorts by color, but also by edge. Then I get the edge pieces and put them together because it makes me feel smart. By this time, Chris has sorted by color and then grouped by bit of picture on each piece. Not surprisingly, he’s better at this whole puzzle putting together thing than I am. Then we break for tea and stare at our little piles of color and completed border. (Ooh! Ahh!) Next, I complain about the glare from the dinning room light fixture because it makes the pieces really hard to see.

After tea has been consumed, we return to the puzzle-at-hand. (I really am on a roll.) This is when we get lost in the minutia of puzzle piece placement. You try a piece, it doesn’t fit. You try it again, it doesn’t fit. Everything about the piece matches, so you try for a third time. The puzzle piece has forgiven whatever crime you obviously perpetrated and is now willing to lay down in accordance. You fists of fury (or possibly just swirling finger of disdain; it is only a puzzle after all) the puzzle piece and then do the whole experiment over again. Time passes. At some point you start to feel the exhilaration of many puzzle pieces falling into place at the same time. You are nearly there and the thing in front of you isn’t just a heap of pieces anymore; it’s a pretty picture on bits of cardboard all stuck together without glue. There are a lot of cracks though – they kind of obscure the way the picture looks on the box.

Almost there now, your heart is getting lighter; just a couple more pieces to go. This is when the puzzle making world comes crashing down all around you. Why? How did you go from completion euphoria to the depths of despair? (By this time, I just have to keep throwing the clichés out there.) The problem is simple: You are one piece short. ALWAYS!

Now it’s fists of fury time. If you are lucky like me, you have a saner, calmer person puzzling with you. That person will look around and notice the puzzle piece lying on the floor – possibly under your cat. He or she will pick up said piece, dust it off and hand it over as an offering of good faith. You will take this piece, promptly smash it down into the final open spot and then do your happy dance with extra fist pumps. Who doesn’t want to do that for their fun day activity! Don't forget, you get to destroy the puzzle afterwards - very therapeutic.

Picture: A picture of your frustrated face when you too can’t find the last piece. That doesn’t sound fun, but now you’ll laugh when it happens to you. Before and After puzzle creation pictures are always good too.

Song: I was trying to think of something newer, but puzzles made me think of the Rubik’s Cube and that makes me think of the 80s; I’m afraid it’s going to be the most 80s song I can think of: Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round”. I already told you I was old, lame and crazy; I think this may actually prove it. Please feel free to comment on that video too. Wow. There are heavy metal covers by Dope and Marilyn Manson if you want an update – and of course Flo Rida w/ Ke$ha. That one’s new-ish.

Tomorrow: Road Trip To…
And here’s where I tell you all that I’ll be out of town for a few days with my husband on a little mini-break for our wedding anniversary. We’re going Up North or to The North Shore for those of you from MN. For everyone else, we’re headed up towards the Canadian border and hiking/biking/swimming along the Lake Superior shoreline. We’re staying at a ski lodge resort so my Month of Fundays will not include camping…s’mores and campfires are still on the table though. I’m telling you this now because it may mean I don’t have access to the internets for blog post uploading. I promise to write about each fun day and post when I get back, if needs be.


  1. So I guess I'm lame and crazy too..I too have a puzzle mat and several Thomas Kinkade puzzles. I however am going to protest the old part!

  2. I wish I had a puzzle to do. All of ours seem to have disappeared. I'm quite sad about this.

  3. This is a test before I drone on.

  4. Aha! I re-figured out how to post! Too bad I didn't notice my ineptitude before my other posts were lost.:(

  5. Hello, my name is Karen and I am a jigsaw puzzle addict. It's been 2 days since I last worked on a puzzle. I've tried them all. Beautiful vistas, edgy abstracts, silly cartoons and even the fiendishly challenging. I like to sort out and put the edge pieces together first because it makes me feel smart and provides a foundation for the (usually) boring bits. Then I like to work on my least favorite color/image and save my favorite color/image for last. I frequently pull in lamps from other rooms to counteract the glare of the chandelier. Who cares if the rest of the house is left in the dark? I have a puzzle to do! I think I may have to start another puzzle on Monday.

    I think puzzles are magical. When I was growing up, we always had a puzzle out. Usually it was my mom and I doing the actual work, but the whole family would sit there with us and we would talk. There was some aspect of the puzzle that would get the conversation going. We would reminisce about the places we've been while working on the Minnesota Landmarks puzzle. We would expound on nature while piecing together a rainforest puzzle. And we'd get just plain loopy while laboring over The Flat Banana - only 500 pieces but all yellow with a Dole sticker in the upper left corner.

    My mom still keeps a puzzle out on that big dining room table and I eagerly look forward to the times when I can visit. Not too long ago we were working on a puzzle of the Periodic Table, and because I am older than you, I had no idea that they had added so many new elements. My son who had just studied it told me all about the new elements. Ta da, I'm still learning from puzzles even while my son is confirming that mom knows squat.

    I've tried to get my kids into puzzles at home, but there are so many other distractions here and it's difficult if there isn't a dedicated space for letting something sit out for days. However, there is hope. Every once in a while when we are between activities and we somehow all have a little down time, I've pulled out a puzzle. The magic still happens. Each family member will take a little time to sit with me and work on the puzzle. We talk about the has beens', the is' and the what ifs'. And, Abracadabra! - we bond.

    Maybe I'll start that puzzle tonight....

  6. Who knew there were so many puzzlers out there! OK, no one is lame, crazy or old. How is that?

    Karen, I'm glad you figured out how to post and thanks for sharing that story!

    Puzzle-on peeps, puzzle-on.