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Jigsaw March 28, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I’m not really into puzzles. I mean, I don’t think I am. It doesn’t occur to me to conquer a jigsaw puzzle. It’s tough for me to commit to any game, really, although I enjoy backgammon occasionally. A game or a puzzle feels like such a commitment. Sometimes, though, once I’m in, I’m in. Sometimes I even get obsessed.

I don’t know if the obsessed part is a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing.

A couple of Christmases ago, Dan’l (of occasional amusing writing fame and with whom we’re doing this Big Year) gave me a Jackson Pollack jigsaw puzzle as a joke. There was no way I was ever going to attempt such a thing, but I did laugh with him about it. I tried to sell it at our yard sale, but there were no takers. My neighbor Dorothy, however, made the mistake of picking it up, looking at it, and mentioning that she liked jigsaw puzzles.

Her birthday was about a month later. Under cover of darkness, I left it on her porch with a birthday message. Anonymously.

She figured it out.

When Christmas was rolling around again last year, Dan’l sent me an e-mail asking if I still had the puzzle, as he had some other plan for it, which I never did discover. I let him know I had indeed regifted it, and during that conversation, he learned in no uncertain terms that I am really not a puzzle person.

So when, on Christmas morning, I opened the package from him that turned out to be a 1,000-piece Edward Gorey puzzle (I do love Edward Gorey!), it came with this note attached:

This gift was purchased prior to our recent exchange of e-mails concerning the Jackson Pollack jigsaw puzzle from last year. I tend to pick up gifts whenever I come across something that seems to fit someone. In this case, that happened last summer. However, since our e-mails, I realize another puzzle might not be such a good idea. So the following options—any of which suits me—might be worth considering:

  1. Keep the puzzle and put it together sometime.
  2. Keep the puzzle and give it to someone who might like it. Could be done after #1.
  3. Leave the puzzle with me with the understanding that no puzzle will ever be received in the future.
  4. Leave the puzzle with me, and I will put it together and then frame it for you as an art object for your place.
  5. Scream at the insanity of anyone thinking you would like something like this.

No hurry in giving an answer.

That note alone made me want to do the puzzle. Or get to the point at which I had done the puzzle.

So, on February 9, I started. I got the border done, of which I was undeservedly proud. I sent this photo to Dan’l:

puzzle border

Soon after I started the puzzle, I got word from Dorothy that she had finished the Pollack puzzle. It had taken her at least 5 weeks—maybe 6, I can’t remember—a very long time for her. I insisted on having a photo of it. She sent me this:

Pollack

I told Dan’l about it, sent him the photo even, and he asked that if she kept it together that he be allowed to see it in person when he next comes to visit.

But back to my puzzle.

The puzzle is being assembled on the card table, but I soon discovered that at least half my dining room table had to be used as staging area. This worked until I hosted a dinner party on February 25. In preparation for guests, I carefully put like pieces into Zip-lock bags so I wouldn’t have to sort them again later.

And then there was a long pause in puzzling.

I went to Portland for my birthday. I went to Maryland for a memorial service and to visit a friend and relatives. In between those two things, I started working on the puzzle again.

A couple of people have seen the puzzle, people who do these sorts of things. I have heard more than once that this is a hard puzzle, which makes me feel a bit better about my lack of speed.

Last weekend I worked on it a lot. The thing is, when I’m working on it a lot, it means I’m avoiding doing other things.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I don’t do puzzles. There are so many other things I should be doing. The puzzle, though interesting, gives me one more way to procrastinate. I already have lots of ways.

This is what the puzzle looks like now:

puzzletoo

It’s getting harder. I’m down to all these pieces that look exactly alike. I sit down and try to face them, and I can feel the panic setting in. I don’t know where to start.

It feels a lot like the tasking I am faced with every day: Everything needs to get done! Everything is equally important! Where do I start? How can I? This is impossible!

Maybe that is another reason I don’t do puzzles. I am not fond of feeling this way.

But eventually, in both cases, pieces fall into place, although usually not as quickly as or in the order in which I’d like them to.

Yesterday there was a knock on my door. It wasn’t a shave-and-a-haircut knock, so I knew it wasn’t Laura. I’m often hesitant to see who it is, because many unannounced knockers want to sell me something or tell me about Jesus. But I bravely ventured downstairs to the door, and there was Dorothy, the Jackson Pollack puzzle in her hands, now jigsaw glued together into permanence for my own enjoyment or for Dan’l’s. It’s really wonderful.

My immediate inclination was to give the Pollack to Dan’l. I have no room for more art. From this chair in my office I can turn and see four pieces I received for my birthday a year ago that still have not found their way onto limited wall space.

And maybe I will give it to Dan’l.

But Dorothy’s Pollack is really impressive. I don’t know if we can let it go. Tim kinda loves it. It’s storied. Like the pieces it’s made of, we may have to look carefully to discover where it fits.

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Comments»

1. Eulalia Benejam Cobb - March 31, 2013

I agree. The Pollock has way too much history to be gotten rid of. Besides, you probably can barely see the edges of the pieces.

2. Mali - April 2, 2013

I loved this. I’ve missed you so much!

3. Bridgett - April 2, 2013

This is one of your best ever. At least for me. Maybe because I like puzzles…in theory.

4. Dona - April 10, 2013

I agree with Mali and Bridgett — a wonderful post. I am not a puzzle or game person either unless I am on vacation and the weather is so bad I cannot get out and there is no Internet and I’ve read all the books in the house and there is no TV.

indigobunting - April 11, 2013

OK, that made me el oh el.


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