Jigsaw Puzzle Mania

Jigsaw puzzles! Hoo boy. I get a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment from putting jigsaw puzzles together. Nerdish? Probably. My husband, Bernd, enjoys it also, but not nearly as much as I do.

We’ve only recently begun doing jigsaw puzzles again. When we first moved to Arizona, we’d spend our evenings working on one together. But then our lives got super busy and we spent our evenings trying to recover from the day just past. We gave away all our jigsaw puzzles and I stopped thinking about them.

I got my first smart phone about a year and a half ago. Might be longer. As I’ve gotten older, I find I lose track of the passage of time. That’s why I’ve taken to writing on the calendar any “big” purchases we’ve made so that when Bernd says something like, “You know, I was hoping that new mattress would last a lot longer than it has,” I can go to the calendar (I move the notation forward with each new calendar, no OCD there, nope) and see just how long we’ve had it. We’re both usually surprised at how much time has passed between the purchase and the present time.

Anyway, until I got my smart phone, I had one of those small phones that slide open to reveal a keyboard. That was a real improvement on my very first flip phone. The keyboard made it so much easier to type text messages. By now you’re wondering what this has to do with jigsaw puzzles.

I resisted downloading apps on my smart phone for months. I was determined to continue to use it as I had my “dumb” phone; for calls and texts only. I refused to become welded to my phone and thought if I didn’t put apps on it that would suffice. Maybe it would have. I’ll never know. Bernd got his first smart phone a few months after I got mine and he had no compunctions about downloading apps. This did not, in the least, help me to keep my resolution.

I ran across an app for jigsaw puzzles. I immediately downloaded it and began sliding pieces all over the screen of my phone and putting puzzles together. I enjoyed it so much, I told Bernd about it and he enjoyed it too.

One day, after having gone through the entire library of puzzles available on that particular app at both a low piece-count setting and then at a higher one, the thought occurred to me that maybe we’d like some real puzzles again. So for my weekly shopping trip, I planned a stop at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart actually has (at least ours does) a large selection of jigsaw puzzles. There are some for very young people and some for adults. They ranged from 30 pieces to over 1,000 pieces. For our first puzzle, I selected a 750 piece alpine lake scene from Buffalo.

Our first jigsaw puzzle purchase

I don’t really know how many days it took us to put it together, but we had a lot of fun doing it. More fun than I remembered from years ago. So when it was done and I had only bought the one, we had to make an emergency jigsaw-puzzle-withdrawal trip to Wal-Mart. We bought two. Woo hoo! That was only the beginning.

We also like castles

Costco carries jigsaw puzzles around the fall/winter holiday season. I was there this past Friday on my weekly shopping outing and saw that they had a huge selection of D.O.W.D.L.E. puzzles. I purchased our first round one. Up to now, we’ve done only rectangular puzzles. The Buffalo puzzles are nice in that there are five main puzzle piece shapes, so if you have two sides to a piece in place you can limit the number of pieces you need to look through to find the next one. That is, providing you have pre-sorted all the pieces by shape. Which I always do.  And then by color. Might have to rethink the OCD comment.

But this new puzzle is not like that. With the exception of the perimeter pieces and maybe two dozen or so other odd pieces, all the rest are of the same general shape. And there are 500 of them altogether. We’ve worked on it for one evening so far and whereas with the Buffalo puzzles we would have the perimeter put together and started filling in the interior, we still do not have the perimeter put all together.

It’s not just the roundness that is slowing us down. The subject matter is particularly difficult. It is artist Eric Dowdle’s painting of an Aztec calendar. I must have been out of my mind.

Now I will offer a short comparison of the two puzzle companies. Buffalo’s pieces seem to click together much more definitively than the Dowdle pieces. The Dowdle pieces are, however, all in much better condition than the Buffalo pieces. Some of those from Buffalo will be severely bent or the printed side will be peeling off the backing. If you are into attractive packaging, Dowdle has Buffalo beat by a mile. But if fun is all you are concerned about, they rank about equal in that regard. Of course, it depends on your definition of fun. If fun is occasionally being frustrated out of your mind, then jigsaw puzzles, from whatever company, are for you.

Published by Dianne Lehmann

I'm a writer. But I'm also a wife and a mom to a couple of fur babies. You could call me a cook (but never a chef, I'm not that good) and provisioner as well. Laundress? Yeah. Probably. I design jewelry and I crochet. But mostly I love to write. I love words and how they sound. I love their meanings and origins. I love stringing them together. And of course, I love to read. Thinking about it just now, I realize that what I love most is life and the people around me with a special place set aside for my wonderful husband, our adorable dog and our inscrutable cat. It's the world and the people in it that fuels my writing. So thanks to you all for being the amazing beings that you are.

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