A box of cardboard pieces all jumbled up, a beautiful picture on the cover of the box, and nothing but time to create order where chaos is currently residing. This is my idea of a fun time, putting together a jigsaw puzzle. In my younger days I remember being so proud I put together the fifty piece puzzle. It was always a sad moment to disassemble the pretty picture. That sadness only lasted a little while because another puzzle was waiting for me. I don’t know what it was that drew me to this obsession, but it filled the time when my friends were away on vacation, grounded, or otherwise occupied.

How do you approach a puzzle?  I usually dump the whole box out on the table. Then I smooth it out so they weren’t double stacked.  As I am getting it into a single layer, I set aside the straight edges to create the border. Once the border was complete, I would focus on the main object. the one that was the easiest to construct. On and on it would go until there were no more pieces to fit. I love to run my hand over the top and feel the smooth but yet it is bumpy with each piece. Recently, I have learned a new process to approach a puzzle.

Sometimes I get to stay with my father-in-law when I am out of town. (It is so much better than in a hotel.) Two weeks ago when I left he had a puzzle sitting on the table. His neighbor had given it to him because she gave up. It has 2,000 pieces. It is 26.5 x 38.5 when constructed. That’s one big puzzle! He was contemplating starting it. “When I start this I will have to sort the pieces on paper plates.There isn’t enough space on the table to hold the puzzle and the pieces,” he told me. As I left I marveled that he had a plan to deal with this monstrous sized puzzle. I doubt I would have thought of that. I would have followed the only plan I know. I would have had a mess and felt frustrated when I couldn’t find pieces. I probably would have given up, like the neighbor who gave him the puzzle.

When I arrived this week this is what I saw on the dining room table – 

The puzzle was nearly finished. The only pieces left were black. He has sorted the pieces by shape on each of the cards. Now all he has to do is find the shape to fill in the holes. Brilliant I thought. I always avoided puzzles with a lot of the same color, but this process made so much sense. When I returned in the afternoon, it was together.

He thought ahead and  developed a plan. It enabled him to assemble a 2,000 piece puzzle in a short amount of time.  He is anxious to share this completion with the neighbor who abandoned the puzzle. So there will be an unveiling of the masterpiece, then back into the box it goes. I wonder if the neighbor will take it out to see if she can do it too?