Last year around this time, I wrote a blog about discovering my addiction. It wasn’t to wine or coffee or drugs or binge watching Netflix or even checking my blog stats. My addiction was, to my surprise, jigsaw puzzles. The reason I called it an addiction was because I would continue to work on them no matter how big of a pain in my neck they were. And believe me, there was a lot of pain involved. If you like, you can read my Discovering My Addiction post here. You may find it a more interesting and better written blog than this one. And then again, maybe not.
In that blog, I asked for suggestions from readers about ways to make it easier and less painful. I wanted to work on them standing up so that my neck and shoulders weren’t hunched over in those pain-inducing positions. Several readers offered helpful suggestions, all of which I gave thought to. The best solution came from my wonderful cousin who suggested a drafting table. (Thanks Reenie. I should have given you credit much sooner.) The drafting table, which was delivered damaged, returned and redelivered over an approximately eight-week COVID-crazy period last spring, worked great; and I have been using it for many hours since. I have recently purchased a drafting stool for the days when my knees are being a pain, but haven’t used it much because I still prefer to stand up.
You may think that jigsaw puzzles are for old people. I personally don’t consider myself old, although my grandkids may think otherwise. Let me tell you that the sales of jigsaw puzzles have sky rocketed during COVID, and it is not just older adults enjoying them. Loads of people have been spending their money on puzzles to the point where there was actually a shortage last spring as inventory dwindled. The CBC news said it was almost like the next toilet paper. I kept watching the sites and ordered when the stocks of some of the ones I wanted were replenished. Many brands seem to have rebounded now. I may need to add to my stash while they are available just to be safe. One needs to be vigilant when they have such a habit.
Since last March I have completed about twenty 1000-piece puzzles, purchasing many myself and borrowing others from my friend and fellow jigsaw aficionado Sue, who helps feed my addiction. Some of my favourites are the Eurographics fine art reproductions including Van’ Gogh’s Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night, Tom Thomson’s West Wind and one of Frida Kahlo’s self portraits. Spending time on them is like developing a relationship with the artist’s work a brushstroke at a time.
Claude Monet’s Irises was one of the most difficult and took me three weeks, off and on, to complete. Sometimes I was lucky to get five pieces in place during a sitting (or a standing).
Others I enjoy are in the international colors series puzzles that are filled with things like Mexican plates, Mediterranean windows and those beautiful totem poles above. They are less difficult than the fine art subjects but very enjoyable to spend time with.
And then there are the animals. These giraffes were certainly time consuming, mostly because of the background. I also have a pair of elephants put away for a future challenge. I have a soft spot for elephants.
I tend to look for puzzles that are more challenging. I don’t want something easy that I can complete in a day or two. Imagine how many I would have to buy or borrow to get through the winter if that was the case. After all, doing puzzles is a winter pastime. One of the things that keeps me sane and focused when the ground is white and the temperatures are sub zero. Between doing puzzles and my other new hobby of learning piano, I have pretty well staved off the February blues this year. This, to me, means I have officially adjusted to retirement in Winter.
Spring and summer and even fall are never a problem. Those seasons are not long enough to enjoy all the things I like to do. Puzzles get put aside in the spring, stacked up in the closet where the already-completed ones will be brought out again on future cold days in a couple of years. Uncompleted ones will top the to-do list come the return of winter. By April, I will be itching to get into my garden and my kayak. I will be looking forward to outdoor cooking and a bottle of wine at the beach or on the deck. I will want to explore the local trails and waterways and take some pictures and write about them here.
My part-time addiction is just that–only part-time. It may not, by most people’s standards, be considered a real addiction. I walk away from it for months. I am getting close to being ready to walk away from puzzles in the next few weeks; but I will be just as happy to welcome them back when the evenings become cooler and the days shorter because at that time, I won’t be able to live without them.
Photos: Jenn Stone