Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

A Puzzling New Pastime

As much as I love to read in the evening, sometimes I find myself dozing off, getting soundly thwacked in the face. Noses do not generally make for comfortable bookmarks.

With the evening still stretching out ever so long–dark, dark at 5:30 pm *blech*–I try to find ways to stay awake until at least 9:30 or 10 pm. If I go to bed any sooner I am up at 3 or 4 a.m. [My body automatically wakes after 6 hours of sleep. Alarm clocks are a waste. So much for sleeping in. My family jokes about setting Mom instead of an alarm clock if we need to get up early]. I’m willing to get up at 5 a.m–not 4 a.m.

So–long evenings, what to do?

During the day, when I’m not teaching the joys of literature, I’m on the computer grading, answering emails, creating lesson plans, doing more grading, and I’m not real thrilled about jumping on the computer when I get home.

The hubs would be content watching a movie [we don’t do commercial TV] but that’s a lot like screen time to me and I enjoy peace and quiet after a full day of teen jollity.

We tried cribbage. Backgammon too. He’s a chess guy. I’m a checkers fan. Not a knitter.

And then, there I was at the library. Right next to the magazine exchange rack I spy  a new addition: puzzles!

I grew up watching my dad patiently wangle his way through landscape puzzles. Those teeny tiny pieces of chopped scenery boggled my little mind. It looked like boredom in a box and I avoided puzzles growing up. Besides the boredom factor,  I like life organized, and puzzles remind me too much of trying to fix something that was broken. Spin ahead a few decades, and standing there in front of all those free puzzles at the library I became somewhat transfixed. Dad always looked so calm slowly piecing together those pictures. Why not?

Bringing home a puzzle proved much more complicated:

  • a dedicated table is needed
  • a certain light is necessary
  • a certain dedicated area is both needed and necessary

It only took two weeks and five stores to find the perfect table. It took a half hour to clear out a corner. I’m still trying to find the perfect light. But–

We are now on our second puzzle. 

The hubs worries over the quiet addiction that is developing. One little piece leads to another, then another, and soon two hours have gone by. I was almost late to work one morning as we battled out the last twenty pieces of placement. I’m in my coat, lunch bag and purse slung over the shoulder, and I keep muttering: I need to go. I don’t go because I found the tree branch piece and that means it connects to the sky, which bridges the roof to the chimney…Is there a twelve step program for puzzlers?

I am a bit puzzled over our new pastime. I feel dociled, like I’m in a folksy home. I’m nervous about telling the kiddos their folks are puzzling. They will no doubt smirk and nod and sibling-text how cute we are growing in our older years. Fine. They do all that already.

Any one else a puzzler?

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25 thoughts on “A Puzzling New Pastime

  1. I enjoy jigsaw puzzles too. I find it very relaxing. But it’s been a few years since I’ve done one.

  2. My husband and son bought me a 2,000 piece puzzle for Christmas. I spent two solid days putting the border and a quarter of the interior together. Hour by hour, I could tell I was getting more and more anxious because I was getting nothing else done. The night I stayed up until 2am, working on the puzzle was the trigger. I finally exploded, asking them why they’d bought this thing to torture me. Shortly thereafter I poured it all back into the box and told them I would finish it when I’m old and gray and have nothing else to do. Oh, the relief when I put that box on a shelf. It’s there, waiting, heart beating. I can hear it. It will wait. But the rest of my life cannot.

  3. I used to love jigsaws as a kid, I’m hoping I’ll be able to do some more with the twins when they get a wee bit older.

  4. We often had a puzzle going when I was a kid and Mom is almost always working one when I visit. I have quite a collection but only bring them out when I know I can give them my time. Cause I cannot resist finding one more piece!

  5. I remember doing passwords years ago and then all of a sudden I was not doing them anymore. I think I want to get back to this though

  6. I wouldn’t classify myself as a “puzzler” but I do enjoy a good puzzle. One of the issues you mention – dedicated space for a puzzle is hard to come by. But I also lack a puzzle buddy. I used to do massive puzzles with my grandmother and they always make me think of her. Maybe I will try and find a good one to take up to the in-laws with me for Easter. I love that your library has puzzles – what a fun idea!

  7. I was just telling my hubby we needed to build a puzzle together!

  8. I love puzzles, but I haven’t worked on one in years because of my cats. They like to play with the pieces! It made my relaxing time stressful, as it was a constant battle.

    I have been considering adult color books lately to switch things up. I made a goal of less screen time this year, and that’s right up my alley!

  9. I LOVED puzzles when I was little. I had an aunty who would always bring me a puzzle from whichever place she’d just visited on holiday. I was actually looking at puzzles in a shop down the street from me a few weeks ago, and thought about getting one of those great big huge ones. But a lack of space and time won.

  10. I am reluctant to start a puzzle because once I start I can not stop. Hours whiz by — hours I should be writing or doing laundry or doing something else that is productive a useful. Instead I blow entire evenings and deny myself sleep to put together something that I am only going to take apart once it’s finished.

  11. Jigsaws are awesome! Finding the biggest one there is for a sense of achievement and pride. All that sky can be a bit stressful though, without the odd cloud to break it up.

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