Back in March, I was looking for things to keep me occupied during quarantine. I've always loved puzzles, so I went to Amazon and there was nothing available but kitty-cats with balls of yarn, dogs of many breeds and cutesy cartoon images. Looking for something a bit more stimulating, I visited the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and made two purchases: a 500-piece puzzle with tiny images of many famous paintings and a 1,000-piece Monet's Bridge Over Waterlilies number.
I commandeered the end of the kitchen table, stole a lamp from the bedroom to provide illumination for the task at hand and began to laboriously flip over the 1,000 pieces, a task which took me most of an afternoon. I quickly discovered that other than the bridge and the waterlilies below it, everything was green. Good grief, what have I done.
First, I separated the pieces with one flat edge to form the border. This took forever, but I finally managed to get it completed, all except for 3-4 pieces I couldn't find. I looked on the floor, in the box and they were nowhere. The next day, I looked at the puzzle and the border was complete. I suspect my husband, who is prone to trickery and deceit, may have held them out to gaslight me and finished the frame while I was out, but I have no proof.
Then I started in on the bridge. There are three rails curving over the pond and it was challenging to figure out which piece went with which rail. I finally completed most of it and attached it to both side of the frame. I had sorted out the waterlily pieces and began to assemble them in long strands, not knowing which direction was up or down or how they might connect to the frame or to each other. Months went by. The best I could do was to put in about 5-6 pieces at a time without going blind. You see, the pieces of this darned thing were quite irregular in size and shape. I'd estimate it took me at least 15 minutes to identify each piece, examining everything spread out around the frame to find a matching color and shape. With the green pieces, and I'm talking hundreds of shade of that color, it was mostly shape. By this time, I had an epic case of buyer's remorse and considered dumping the whole thing back in the box, but as they say, "she persisted."
Six months later, the puzzle is only about two-thirds complete. I've ramped up productivity and am now putting in more pieces at a time, since there are fewer to evaluate. I estimate that it may be Halloween before I can declare victory over this monster. It has given me a new appreciation for Claude Monet, as I can see the thousands of brushstrokes and various colors it took to produce this masterpiece, one of about 250 he painted of waterlilies.
Next time around, it may just be a cute brown dachshund puppy playing with a ball, something I could complete in less time than it takes to have a baby.
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.