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Even my time wasting gets political

I have been ordered to It was gently suggested by a friend that in the wake of the giant bedroom project and the midst of finishing up writing a book with Kit Perez that I not plunge directly into anything creatively demanding.

In other words: “Waste some time; it’ll recharge your creative batteries.”

Lazy though I am, I’m very poor at free-form relaxation. I natter on about how I’d love to sit on a beach in Tahiti sipping a mai tai while Tuki Brando fans me with a palm frond. But truth is, I wouldn’t enjoy that a bit.* I have to be doing something even if it’s something dumb.

Last week I stumbled across this for $0.50 at a thrift store. It’s not a “real” jigsaw puzzle, but apparently one that somebody ordered from Shutterfly of their retriever. Such a photogenic pooch. I don’t do puzzles. Probably haven’t since I was 10 years old. But hey. A dog. And $0.50

On Saturday — with the wind howling, rain pouring, and my out-of-town plans cancelled — I started putting it together. Blindingly tedious thing to do. But it was a thing to do. And it didn’t tax my body, brain, or budget. I got hooked.

So today when the thrift stores opened back up again, I hit both our local ones in a quest for more.

Of course, there are at least 3,395,462 adult jigsaw puzzle designs available. But it’s strange how alike many of them are. There’s the Standard European Village Photo, which isn’t bad. But there’s at least 875,631 variations on the Nature Scene That Looks Like It Would Be Populated by Unicorns Instead of Grizzly Bears and surely more than 1,000,013 versions of the Peaceful Cabin by the Lake That’s So Sweet You’d Think Hansel and Gretel’s Witch Lived In It. Even dog-themed puzzles mostly run to Adorable Puppies In a Basket or Funny Dogs Having a Party. (Cooler dog puzzles are available. Just not yet at the thrift store.)

Even at a small-town thrift store there are dozens of these sappy standards. I plowed through them (and along the way passed up the Giant Majestic Deluxe 1000-Piece Puzzle that featured Jesus’ soul wafting upward from a picturesque stone grotto — or maybe it was meant to be Jesus’s not-quite corporeal body emerging from the grave; hard to tell, could have been the ghost of Jesus haunting the Forest of Unicorns), and did find a couple okay puzzles.

Then in the second store I hit, I found this:

It was an outrageous (for a junque store where you can never be sure you’re getting all the pieces or that the pieces won’t be covered with peanut butter and jelly) $2.50. But of course I had to have it.

So even as I labor mindlessly, I’ll still be laboring “for the cause.” Well, at least I’ll tell myself that; not that I’ll believe it or anything.

But seriously, who’d expect to find that? Who knew that knocking down the Berlin wall was ever even a subject for jigsaw puzzles?

That guy in the pink shirt’s going to make one part of this puzzle waaaay to easy, though.


*Though I’d be more than willing to give it a try.


  1. DistOne
    DistOne February 19, 2018 3:19 pm

    To hell with the jig-saw version, I want a copy of the original framed on my wall! Great find.

  2. Jorge
    Jorge February 19, 2018 4:32 pm

    My daughter like jigsaw puzzles but finds most of them way too easy. While you are unlikely to find it in a thrift shop I got her This for her birthday. It keeps her occupied.

    And yeah, the Berlin Wall coming down is great. Jigsaw puzzle, photo, does not matter.

  3. Mike
    Mike February 19, 2018 4:59 pm

    When the wall came down, it was an interesting time in Germany. When the reunification happened the church bells rang for 24 hours without pause. In Berlin, they had a program for when the border opened. Everybody who could produce a valid DDR passport was given 100DM to go have a little fun.

    I remember a cousin telling me what it was like for her growing up just outside Berlin in communist Potsdam. Even the simple act of going to school was complected by having to go through several checkpoints. At each one she was searched after presenting an internal passport. It was a regular event to be groped by the guards. Picture having to go through a TSA check six times every day, five days a week.

    These days the signs of Soviet occupation are mostly gone but if you look around they can be found. The pollution the Russians left was incredible and the cost of cleaning it up has been imminence. One holdover from those times is that older people still keep to themselves.

  4. maDDtraPPer
    maDDtraPPer February 19, 2018 10:50 pm

    It will be a true exercise of Zen to remain calm when you finish only to find 999 pieces or 499. In fact my OCD would cause me to rush through the puzzle just because I would be unable to stop wondering if all the correct pieces were there. Finally I always face the dilemma of what to do with it after. Glue it together on a backer and hang it or take it apart and place it in the closet for 10 years?

  5. Pat
    Pat February 20, 2018 3:31 am

    OTOH, I like the idea of leaving one piece of the puzzle out – right where a hole should appear – to show a breakthrough in the wall. Of course, leaving that hole would be the hardest part of putting the puzzle together.

  6. efarmer
    efarmer February 20, 2018 4:03 am

    “Mother should I trust the government?”

  7. larryarnold
    larryarnold February 20, 2018 3:43 pm

    Love the perspective-The freedomistas so much bigger than the guards.

  8. Claire
    Claire February 21, 2018 10:44 am

    Jigsaw puzzles ONLINE??? Oh, horrors. I’m definitely not ready for that. (Is the world ready for that?)

    Actually, one reason I got the physical puzzles is because the combination of online time wasting and online work has been hurting my eyeballs. So I’ve given that site a quick check over, but I think I’m going to stick with the boxed versions.

    And I’m not even going to think about that wild-n-crazy 3D puzzle Jorge’s daughter is smart enough to work.

  9. strycat
    strycat March 2, 2018 6:02 am

    I was going to say try the 3D puzzles, but then I remembered how I spent 3 months with a giant table in my room and spent hours every day trying to put it all together, only to find out that I was missing about 10 pieces. I threw the whole thing back in the box and have never tried another I was so upset. Apparently the one in question is still sold:

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