I have recently discovered my love for jigsaw puzzles. Well, technically, I’ve always liked jigsaws, but haven’t done them since I was a kid when my mom would set up the card table and dump out a box. What changed was I found an online app—Jigsaw Planet—that is perfect for my iPad.
At breakfast and lunch, I typically solve crosswords while I eat, but I’ve got to focus on those. One day there was a story I wanted to listen to on NPR, and I remembered Jigsaw Planet. I jigged and listened and ate and had a grand ‘ol time.
I can’t do more than about 300 pieces because I just don’t have enough room to arrange them to my satisfaction. It seems 224 or 260 is my sweet spot. (Someone pointed out to me that I can change the number of pieces for any puzzle, which truly and irrevocable rocked my world.)
The funny thing about my system is that I never remember what picture I’m trying to create. I choose something from a bunch of thumbnails …
… click on one of them …
… then start sorting pieces.
Then I put together the frame.
As I put it together, I kinda sorta remember what picture I’m trying to make …
And then I finally finish.
Because I completely lose track of time, I must set my timer. By the time I come back to it, I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. Seascape? Elephant? Minnie Mouse? Colorful Havana taxis? No idea. You can click a button to see the picture again, or even put a ghost image on the board. Both of those seem like cheating, though. *shrug* I’ll see it when I’m finished.
There’s a truly satisfying CLICK when you snap the correct pieces together, which I love. You can check the time it took you to solve a puzzle, (in my case above, 72 minutes) or see the times for anyone else, which I find horrifying and much less satisfying. It usually takes me at least five minutes just to sort my pieces, and some people have finished the puzzle in that time! Crazy! Who needs that kind of competitive turmoil in their life? And do people really sit still for 72 minutes and work a puzzle??
I also like the way solving a jigsaw allows my mind to wander, when I’m not listening to NPR, that is.
For instance, I’ve recently traveled these weighty mental paths—
• is there anyone who doesn’t find all the edge pieces first and if there are, are they psychopaths?
• if, as Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic Park, a butterfly can flap its wings in Peking, and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine, then why doesn’t a ginormous albatross affect the weather on Mars?
• if my eyelashes are supposed to keep things out of my eyes, why is it always an eyelash I pull outta there?
• how did people make the first tools, if there were no tools to make stuff?
• why don’t fish have eyebrows?
• how did it come to be that “I’m up for it” and “I’m down for it” mean the same thing?
If you want to ponder any of those while you do a jigsaw, here are a couple puzzles I made. Just click the “play as” button and make them as easy or hard as you want.
Jigsaw link for Booked, Plotted, Bound
Aside from reading, what are your favorite ways to stretch your brain?