I do not remember being especially enamored with jigsaw puzzles when I was a kid, except when we were on vacation at Clear Lake. Indiana. Boredom on a rainy day would bring out an especially difficult puzzle that was a black and white replica of an old newspaper page. I don't think we ever quite finished it and there were several missing pieces.
Then the pandemic came along. Being restricted to the house most of the time, I decided to conquer the crushing boredom by ordering a couple puzzles from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The first, a 500-piece depiction of the all the departments of the museum, wasn't that difficult. But the second one was a monster--a reproduction of Monet's Bridge with Waterlilies. Because the whole darn thing was in shades of green, it took me several months to finish it and then I couldn't locate three of the 1,000 pieces! This didn't discourage me from trying a few others. Woman in Gold by Klimt was a favorite, as was a reproduction of a New Yorker magazine cover of a young woman riding a bicycle down a snowy lane with a Christmas tree on board. My friend Claudia sent me a cute 1,000 piece puzzle with 26 breeds of dogs in alphabetical order. It featured pictures of socks, dog toys, a fire hydrant, a water dish and bones in between the pooches. I couldn't resist buying one with donuts of every flavor at our local hardware and gift store. I only met defeat with a 1,000-piece painting of Disneyworld. It was no trouble putting together the buildings and street filled with people, but the night sky was all very dark shades of navy blue. I resorted to grouping pieces with the same shape on several paper plates to make it less work, but to no avail. Couldn't even complete the frame. My grandson Noah has never let me forget that I "gave up" on this puzzle. He loves to help me and is amazingly good at it for an 8-year-old, quickly trying and eliminating pieces as he goes.
The most recent one, a gift from my daughter, was a beautiful street scene with a cafe, outdoor seating and a few shops, all in Kodachrome shades of turquoise, magenta, blue and purple. It took me only a few days to complete since it was 500 pieces. Now it's time to order a few more to keep me busy in the evenings. My husband is glued to his MLB package of every baseball game in the country, so I tune out the commentators and organ music (except when the Phillies are playing), take a seat at the kitchen table and attack the latest puzzle. After turning all the pieces over, sometimes I do the frame first--other times assembling the most prominent features. I find it very relaxing and enjoy the strategy and concentration it takes to successfully complete even the largest puzzle. Just save me from deep blue skies.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.