“It’s not fair!” I complain, “This is stupid!” and I continue my incoherent muttering under my breath. I catch the satisfying smirk my 15-year old tries to hide, and the irony that I sound just like him is not lost on me. “What are you lookin’ at?” I lash at him, “Oh my God, Mom, just let it go!” and he gets up of the couch and moves to another room, safe from my frustrated tantrums. My 10-year old daughter ventures in from the gloomy, rainy outdoors. “Mom, what’s for lunch?” she asks. “Get lost!” I bark back at her. “She stands there eyes wide, undeserving of this sudden of rudeness, and retreats to her father for the basic necessities of life. “Maybe you should give up” offers my husband. “Give up?! What are you talking about, I can’t give up! I won’t give up. I started it; dammit, I’m going to finish it,” my irritation unmistakable.
This loving family scene is me doing a puzzle at the cottage. Yes, a jigsaw puzzle.
As the summer cottage season begins I load up the car with all the necessities for the season, mainly ketchup and toilet paper, but also a new puzzle every summer for those rainy days. This year I was delighted with my selection. I smiled happily all the way to the cash register and agreed entirely with the cashier’s opinion that it was absolutely “an enviable scene” and a “great choice”. It also brought back so many fond memories of the summer of 1989 and my prolonged back packing trip throughEurope. My then boyfriend (now husband) and I spent two spectacular weeks in September of that year inGreece. My prized puzzle choice was a high quality, Ravensburger puzzle with new state of the art “Soft Click” premium puzzle interlocking technology (swear to God). Santorini,Greece. Yes, indeed. Stunning white-washed buildings with brilliant blue tile roofs set against a magnificent blueMediterranean Seaon a clear sunny, blue-sky day dotted with wispy white clouds. Can’t you just picture it?
Are you getting it now?! Do you understand the huge puzzle gaffe I have committed??!! Blue on white on blue on white surrounded by … more blue on white! Six cups of coffee later, I shout out, “A-ha! Gotcha!”
Ten pieces done, and only 990 to go. This puzzle is turning me into a complete psychopath.
My visiting sister walks by, with her freshly blended marguerita, and offers, “Are you crazy? You honestly have no idea how to pick out a puzzle, do you? Colours, girl, lots of different colours.” I look at her with the bleary red eyes of an axe murderer but don’t have time to look for the axe. Must. Finish. Puzzle.
The following weekend, my sister-in-law is visiting with her two daughters, borrowing our cottage– and my daughter – for the week. She’s never been to our cottage so upon giving her the tour, I stop at the dining room table. “And this,” gritting my teeth, “This … is my puzzle. I’m not quite finished!” I’ve almost managed the perimeter.
For the record, I am relatively new to the puzzle thing. We’ve owned our cottage now for five years so in my lifetime I’ve probably now accomplished – oh, I don’t know – five puzzles. Make that four. I am not able to take credit for this one. Upon my return to the cottage the following weekend, the puzzle is done. Finito. Complèt. The puzzle that brought me to the brink of at least a dozen of the mental disorders listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM, was fully completed by my sister-in-law in two days. I don’t get it. The cottage and its occupants appear relatively unscathed throughout her ordeal. “We were going to save you the last piece.” she says. I smile and offer up my gratitude – and spit in her wine glass when she’s not looking. Next summer? I shall unveil my new puzzle: Thomas the Tank Engine. 60 pieces. Suitable for ages 4+.
I’ll show her.