Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jigsaw Puzzle Memories by Milou Koenings

I've been thinking a lot about jigsaw puzzles recently because one of them has a role in the book I'm writing now.

doormouse in teacup puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles played a big part in my childhood summers. My sister and I were very lucky. Thanks to my father's job, for many years, we got to spend part of our vacations by the sea. Our mornings were spent on the beach.

But what to do in the early afternoon, when the sun was too hot for us to be out there? Or on rainy days?
This was in the days before the internet and YouTube (yup, that long ago). There wasn't much on TV. And as much as we all liked to read, we tended to run out of books. So Mom's answer to keeping two kids quietly occupied was a big stock of jigsaw puzzles.

Each afternoon after lunch, we'd settle down around a table with her and work on a puzzle. She deliberately got ones that had really interesting pictures, to hold our interest, but that had zillions of pieces, so that one puzzle could sometimes last us a whole week.

We assembled rustic spice racks. Put together elaborate collections of china dolls. Teacup displays. Despite the triumph when we finally put in the last piece of a completed image, the puzzles stuck around only long enough to show Dad when he came home. Then we'd break them up quickly and pack up all the pieces, anxious to start another one.

For some reason, the hour or two we spent daily huddled over the puzzle, sifting through the pieces, trying to find a place to make the piece in our hand fit, turned into a cherished memory that always fills me with a sense of contentment and peace.  If I want a short mental vacation, I cast myself back there, my hand running through jewel-toned shapes, choosing one and trying to find it a mate. Turning it around. Trying this way and that.  My sister or my mother only occasionally breaking the silence with a question or comment, for we mostly concentrated in silence on what we were doing.

What piece of mind there was in knowing that, even if we didn't see how right away, eventually all those pieces would fit just right, everything would fall into place, and the end result would be beautiful.

Would that we had the same assurance about life...

Of course, that is one reason that romance novels are so satisfying — it's exactly what they promise!

jigsaw puzzle pieces
How Jigsaw Puzzles Are Good For You
Turns out that there's more to doing puzzles than fun. They challenge our spatial reasoning, logic and dexterity.
Puzzles work both sides of the brain simultaneously — our logical side tries to fit the pieces together, while our creative side is putting together the picture.

They build focus, concentration and persistence and help improve short-term memory.

Puzzle Tidbits

·         Jigsaw puzzles were first made popular by John Spilsbury in 1760, who marketed a map of Europe cut into pieces.

·         The largest jigsaw puzzle you can buy has 40,320 pieces. It shows scenes from Disney movies.

largest jigsaw puzzle
The largest commercially available jigsaw puzzle.
Not sure where I'd find a table big enough for it!

·         Jigsaw puzzle pieces — puzzling and hard to fit in — have become a symbol of autism.

·         And then, there's Wikipedia's well-known logo: a 3D jigsaw puzzle globe, with pieces still missing, to allow for more knowledge.

So, do you like jigsaw puzzles, too?

Milou Koenings is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.

Her other Green Pines sweet romances, I Love You Three, Reclaiming Home, The Kampala Peppermint Twist and Sweet Blizzard are available on, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and all your favorite e-book retailers.

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  1. Milou, I loved your childhood memory of putting puzzles together. They are such fun. As a grandmother, all three of my granddaughters have enjoyed puzzles from time to time. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Oh what a beautiful image - doing them with grandchildren. I can't wait!

  2. This is a lovely post! I enjoyed the tidbits, too. Thanks for sharing, Milou!

  3. I've always admired people who were persistent enough to finish a jigsaw puzzle. I'm not one of those. They were always frustrating to me. I would spend so much time trying to put a piece in without success, and then someone would walk by study it for a few seconds and put in a piece. Not fair! :)

    1. And yet you're writer - which is putting all the pieces together until they fit just right in the story! So you are persistent! ;)

  4. Thanks so much for the reminder, Milou! Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

  5. What a fun read!! I LOVE working on jigsaw puzzles, and wish I could do it more often. There were 5 girls in my family (and 1 boy), and my dad always had a puzzle out to work with us. It was a fun time of conversation. The only thing bad about puzzles is that I have a hard time walking away from them until they are finished!

  6. What a fun read!! I LOVE working on jigsaw puzzles,

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