Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice and Jigsaw puzzles

No icepocalypse this morning, lucky for us. The car door was rather stuck, and I had to deice the windows, but the streets were bare and wet, as they say in road reports. The northern part of the state was not so lucky, however, and many thousands of people are without power. On my drive in to work this morning, I saw convoys of electric company trucks heading north to help.

Here at work in the past month, we have been working on jigsaw puzzles. I think the idea was to give patrons something to work on, but in practice it has been staff, taking a break from real work. Yes, I am one of those staff members. I love jigsaw puzzles, for a variety of reasons. First of all, they remind me of childhood vacations. Between Christmas and New Year's, we would set up a large folding table in the family room, spread out a 1000+ piece puzzle, and get to work. There was a very set order of work to be followed - first, all the pieces must be turned right-side up, any pieces that were already/still stuck together taken apart (mustn't have any cheating!) and the edges separated. Next, all the edges pieces must be put together before any of the picture can be started. Then, the real work could begin, and we each would choose a section or figure within the puzzle to work on. The puzzles we did were usually these strange French cartoons, semi-pornographic, if cartoons of little figures with bulbous noses and funny bodies can be pornographic. Although I had some puzzles that were of more "appropriate" subjects - horses, tigers, and so on, I tended to find them boring, not requiring enough effort to be worth the trouble. I mean, it was just a photograph, with a single subject, and the pieces were too big.

In the puzzles we worked, it was great fun to discover where the figure you were working on fit in the larger picture. And that is the second reason I love jigsaw puzzles - getting involved in solving a problem. I love crossword puzzles for the same reason. You have to work at the puzzle, solve it, and get to the end with something complete. For someone with an often over-active mind, it is a great relief to be able to sit and concentrate on a puzzle - it forces the many thoughts and worries that threaten to overwhelm me to the side, give me a break. It is relaxing. In fact, I started working on crossword puzzles every night before bedtime (from a book of the Friday and Saturday New York Times - anything else is too easy and doesn't engage my mind enough ) and since I have been doing so, I find it much easier to fall asleep.

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