Welcome to the jigsaw zone
I'm at my desk, determined to work on my book. I have the set the timer. Pages of research surround me. But I need one more fact, so I log onto the Internet. And there, I find the jigzone. Before I can stop them, my fingers click on jigzone.com and hit "puzzle-of-the-day." "Puzzle loading" says the message on the screen. Not breathing, I watch as colorful pieces spread before me. Finger on the computer mouse, I grab the first edge piece and create a bit of sky. Then I find some grass and hook it to another piece of grass. I'll just do one puzzle, I tell myself. But I know when I finish this puzzle, I'll click onto the "Gallery" and do another. And another. Until it's too late to work. Jigzone.com is one of several websites that offer jigsaw puzzles. I am hooked. Addicted. Got the jigsaw jones. I can't stop puzzling. When I feel bad, I do a puzzle. When I feel good, I reward myself with a puzzle. When I'm not sure how I feel, I do a puzzle. All I know is that when I'm in the jigzone, I feel safe.
In the jigzone, where I find a new puzzle every day and never know what cut it might be--classic, crazy, circles, bricks, triangles, swirls or lizards—each time two pieces click together, I accomplish something. When I complete the picture, it feels so good I want to do it again. I go into the gallery. Do I want to puzzle over animals, boats, sunsets, the Mona Lisa? These puzzles only take a few minutes each, and I don't have to worry about losing a piece to the floor or the dog. Whatever I choose, there are always more, and I can change the cut or start over with the push of a button. Click, click, click. Blue on blue. Green on green, red on red. Success.
I have always loved puzzles but avoided starting them, just like I avoid bringing bags of potato chips into the house. Once I start, I can't stop. In the past, I have laid my puzzles out on a card table in the den. Despite bad lighting and all the other things I should be doing, I hover over that puzzle for days until it's done. In fact, I still remember an all-red puzzle that I put together on the floor near the TV. My back hurt. When I stood, I could barely walk. But would I stop? I couldn't.
Fred and I each learned puzzling from our mothers. My mother told me how Grandpa Al used to make puzzles out of wood with an actual jig-saw. She would spread a puzzle out on the card table and show us how to find the straight-edged pieces that made up the frame, how to match the colors, the knobs and indentations to put together the rest of the picture, usually some sort of country scene. I was always the one to finish the puzzle, my brother having lost interest, Mom having left to fix dinner or take the clothes off the line. She'd have to chase me away from the puzzle to do my homework or go to bed.
Decades later, when Fred's mother moved to our town, I found a kindred spirit. Long retired and now widowed, she kept a puzzle going on her card table while she watched her favorite TV shows all day long. A systematic puzzler, she'd arrange her pieces by color and have mini-puzzles going within the frame of the 1,000-piece picture. If we wandered near, she watched us warily, not liking anyone messing with her puzzles.
On her last Mother's Day, I bought her a puzzle, a sea scene, mostly blues. She worked on it as she died of lung cancer, but she didn't finish. When she couldn't sit up anymore, she told me to go ahead and complete it, but I couldn't seem to make anything fit together. When she was gone, after the hospital bed had been removed and we were starting to clean out the house, I left that puzzle up, but it was the hardest puzzle I'd ever seen. All the tiny pieces looked alike. Same shape, same color. Finally, when there was nothing left in the room but the puzzle, I gathered the pieces in both hands and threw them into the box. The puzzle went to charity.
Now both mothers are gone. Fred is gone, too. I have gotten rid of all my cardboard jigsaw puzzles. But I'm still not safe. I have fallen into the jigzone. No one will call me away. I can't put all the puzzles in a box and give them to Goodwill. I'm hooked. As each piece clicks into place, I get a hit of happiness. Just one more.
(Lest Jigzone.com take offense, let me stress that I am grateful for the many hours of pleasure this site has given me and encourage others seeking fun and exercise for the brain to join me there.)
I'm still cranking away on my book, with some blogs and poetry happening on the side. By the time you read this, I hope to have my copies of Oregon Stories, published in honor of Oregon's sesquesentennial. I have a piece in there. Last month, I had the name of the book wrong. Stay tuned for events in celebration of the publication.
I have received my copies of A Cup of Comfort for a Better World, which also includes some of my writing. Check your favorite bookseller for a literary pick-me-up.
Oregon Coast Writing News
The Oregon Coast branch of Willamette Writers will host a workshop with poet Jessica Lamb at the April 6 meeting. The program at the Newport Library begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free. This being National Poetry Month, poet Marianne Klekacz is offering a free "Fun with Poetry" workshop at the Newport Library from 2 to 4 p.m. April 4, 11, and 18. She'll have us writing poetry and promises some great guest poets. To sign up, call 541-265-2153. My friend Christina Katz has published a new e-book called Author Mama. It follows Writer Mama, and Get Known Before the Book Deal, telling us how one gets books published in the 21st century. Visit http://christinakatz.com/purchase-author-mama for information.
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Vintage International, 1998. Most people are more familiar with this story as a movie, but it's a wonderful book. The story: Michael, 15, meets Hanna, 30-something, when he gets sick on the way home from school and she helps him. Upon his recovery, he goes to thank her. They begin a love affair. In addition to sex, she asks him to read to her, and he obliges. Then one day, she is gone. Several years later, now a law student, he attends the trial of several women who worked in the concentration camps. Hanna is one of them. As the trial progresses, he realizes he knows a secret she has been keeping from everyone. They renew their connection from afar until the story comes to a shocking end. It's a great book and a great movie.
The Dog Walker by Leslie Schnur, Atria Books, 2004. Nina makes her living walking dogs, and she has this compulsion to snoop in her clients' homes. What she has seen in Daniel's apartment has given her a big crush on the man. Daniel has a twin brother named Billy who is an IRS agent. They trade places so Billy can spy on a dog-walking client named Constance Chandler, who seems to have far more money than she claims on her tax returns. They meet when Nina goes a step too far and takes a bath in his apartment. They fall in love, but it's complicated because Nina thinks Daniel is Billy, and Billy knows she will reject him when she learns the truth. It's a classic comedy of errors, clichéd but good fun and the dogs are delightful. This book, like so many others I have read lately, is laden with typos and grammar errors, so many that a previous library patron got fed up and started penciling in corrections. Good for her.
He Used to Be Somebody by Beverly Bigtree Murphy, Gibbs Associates, 1995. Imagine marrying someone who is already showing signs of Alzheimer's Disease. That's what Beverly did, and things rapidly moved from bad to horrible. In this book, she tells the story of her love for Tom Murphy and the years of struggle they shared with this awful disease. People who have lived with Alzheimer's will recognize many of the challenges they experienced. Although marred by grammatical errors, it's a gripping story which also offers many lessons for the Alzheimer's caregiver.
March is going out like a lion this year. After teasing us with lovely spring days, it has thrown one storm after another at the Oregon Coast. As I write this, it is hailing so hard, the grass is which with chunks of ice. The wind has tossed the hot tub cover off and scattered the deck furniture. It's snowing not far away. At least we have plenty of water.
After a month of birthdays, things are slowing down for April. Happy birthday to Tracy and everyone else gaining a year. Happy Easter to all.
All contents copyright 2010, Sue Fagalde Lick
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