Friday, November 2, 2012

Puzzle party

Early in October, I planned my 101 in 1,001 goals for the month with post-marathon R&R in mind. I figured I'd relish the chance to switch gears and try some new activities (read: eat popovers) when my free time was a little, well, more free. Josh and I had snagged a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle at Target for $5 a few weeks back - this cracks me up now because I have no idea why - and it gathered dust until I decided to use that puzzle for 79) Complete a puzzle, jigsaw or crossword.

(I'm trying to picture the looks on your faces right now. Yes, some friends and family have already poked fun at me about this.)

Truthfully, I was in over my head with this puzzle, which made it both much more than I bargained for and ultimately much more fulfilling than I expected. My grandma loves working on jigsaw puzzles and they always looked kind of fun, but I haven't completed a puzzle on my own in many years, if ever. Who knew that a puzzle could be such high drama?

Josh thought this project was a little goofy but was ultimately encouraging. Wish, on the other hand, hated my puzzle. I wanted to document the project with my camera for the purpose of the 101 list, so I could look back and see my progress. My dog managed to squirm his way into almost every photo with the apparent sole goal of conveying how dull, annoying and unproductive he found my new hobby.

Here's the start. (First sidenote: The puzzle turned out to be larger than half of my coffee table, foiling my perfect plan to have the unused pieces on one pane of glass and the assembled puzzle on the other. I tried to stack magazines just right, to provide an extension. The puzzle's the white and lavender strip at the top of the coffee table. Second sidenote: Wish is wearing his Superman cape.)

This could not possibly be any more boring.
Also, I think the magazines show that this is just frankly a gigantic puzzle:

Several days in, the magazines started to cause a lot of trouble as my progress crept down the coffee table. Out of the blue one afternoon, Josh said, "Why don't you get a cardboard box and flatten it for a level workspace?" I think my brother had also been trying to suggest this at least two days before that. Oops.

Bless Josh, by the way, for patiently enduring the inane verbal play-by-play that I provided. I don't know how he managed to respond to exclamations like "I finished the cloud!" or "This river is killing me!" with encouraging words (or at least sounds) every time. I think he was confused/bemused at first but grew to appreciate that I was genuinely having a great time chipping away at this puzzle.

And the cardboard made working on the puzzle a dream!

The next day, the barn sprung up!

I think the barn's appearance is thanks to Sunday's NFL football on TV - i.e. the perfect puzzle conditions, allowing me to keep an ear on the games while chipping away at the puzzle.

I can't even watch this anymore.
Next, I'm closing in - but still had the formidable river left to conquer:

Are you done yet? No? Good grief.
And finally, finally I crossed the finish line! My puzzle was complete!

I am falling asleep sitting up just watching you.
So happy!

But if you spotted a bewildered note in my grin, you'd be right. There were two missing pieces! I was bummed. I got this far, only to assemble 998 pieces?! Seriously? It's like running 26 miles and having the last 0.2 miles of the course disappear in front of you!

Honestly, I did blame Wish. Josh and I had ordered Punch Pizza one night and I'd set the box on top of the unassembled pieces, and later I caught him licking some of the puzzle pieces (the closest he'd get to the pizza, I guess). I thought he had just carried the two pieces away.

Then, yesterday, I was straightening up the kitchen. I lifted up the pizza box to take it out to the trash, and voila! There were my two missing pieces! I don't know how or why I had carried them to the kitchen counter - they must have been really vexing me - but my puzzle was officially complete!

Please let me eat it now.
By the way, I just counted, and yes, I did include more photos in this post than last week's entire Mankato Marathon report.

The puzzle required a pretty diligent effort for a full week, but that wording makes it sound like tedious homework. Obviously, I got really into the process. I have no idea what I was really thinking when I added #79 to my list of goals, but I love that it was there. Having it on the list gave me an excuse to commit to trying something totally new for a manageable timeframe - surprisingly challenging at times, simultaneously mindless and mind-stretching. When I phrase it that way, it's not too surprising that the puzzle largely shoved reading to the back burner for the week, so I don't expect to keep piecing together puzzles at this pace.

That said, I don't think it's the last jigsaw puzzle you'll see on my coffee table, either - much to my dog's chagrin.


  1. Your joy over this puzzle is awesome! This post made me giggle, especially Wish in the background of all the pictures. (By the way, I LOVE jigsaw puzzles. Growing up my mom and I did one every Christmas break. It's the perfect thing to do while sitting in front of the tv! And they're addicting! Yes I am an old lady.)

    1. Yes, I love the Christmas break idea!

      Also, your whole comment made me giggle. I love it!

  2. You are SO funny! The play by plays KILL me. Also, I love the puzzle you choose. What a pretty scene! SJ