new experience #30: puzzle for 4.5 hours straight

sunday was a dreary, cold, wet, windy, cold and generally cold grey day – the kind of weather where you wrinkle your nose and pull up your collar as soon as you set foot outdoors. then you hightail it back inside and cocoon for the rest of the day…kidding! but *wintry* weather really did descend upon us this past weekend. (we’re wusses right now – give us a month and 2 degrees celsius will feel positively balmy).

note the puddles on the left, and the snow clouds in the sky...ok, rain clouds!

me = not a happy camper (as if you couldn't tell!)

[photos taken while i walked snooki book back to the library – on to dragon tattoo girl!]

thus, it was the perfect day to put into effect a new experience that’s been on the backburner all year.

a bit of background: as a child, i LOVED jigsaw puzzles. i would puzzle and repuzzle the ones i had over and over again (my favourite was a peanuts-themed one with snoopy et al playing musical instruments). as a grown-up, i’ve completed jigsaw puzzles here and there – the last one was a few years back when i was looking to fill some time during a running injury. i had puzzle pieces all over the floor for at least a month!

this puzzle has been stored away since i don’t know when. i honestly don’t remember how it came into my possession:

perfect theme for october!

[i don’t like “scenic” puzzles – i like bright colours and not too big blocks of colour. this one meets my criteria!]

so: my original idea was to “do a jigsaw puzzle from start to finish, without stopping.” well, if you look at that box, you will see it’s 1000 pieces big – a little ambitious, i would say, to expect to complete it in one shot, esp if i wish to keep my job!

this new experience might strike you as zany, but the way i see it, some people watch football for five hours on a lazy sunday, or flop down with a full load of pvr’d tv shows. i chose to puzzle away my late aft/evening!

the rules: i would puzzle for 4.5 hours (4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) non-stop, but i could pause for washroom , food + water, and quick fb/email breaks.

i set up my puzzling zone…

table moved out from the wall so i could fully circle around it...

…put on background entertainment…(real housewives of new york – i know all their voices by now, so no need to watch! audio-style a-ok!):

i got through all three reunion episodes from season three!

…and set the timer for one hour. i decided to work in one hour blocks, and also the timer binging would remind me to photograph my progress.

and we're off!

at the starting gate:

1000 a lot of pieces!

i used my childhood strategy to get organized:

interior pieces to the left, border pieces to the right. corners to the very far right.

step one complete! all pieces right side up, and separated!

this is how far i got in hour one (remember i also had to do the arranging you see, above):

almost complete - two pieces of border are still out there somewhere!

next, i grabbed all the pieces with words/writing. after hour two, here’s what i had:

i know, "that's it?" i can read your mind!!

i was still fresh as a daisy after two hours.

during hour three, i made colour groupings:

example: anything with pumpkins!

i should note that the challenge about this time was the lighting – it was getting dark out and my chandelier was casting a glare on the table. i kept having to twist my head around to peer at the puzzle pieces. my lower back started getting tight from bending over the table (better than working on the floor – no way my knees would have been comfy kneeling for all that time!).

i also moved the put-together parts into the COMPLETED frame (found those two missing links)!

after three hours, my mind was going getting a little tired. at least my eyes held up the whole time – no cranky contacts!

real housewives was done by this time, so i had time to reflect on how puzzling is like life (deep thoughts coming up): puzzle pieces = people or events…sometimes you really want a piece to fit in a spot and it just is not right; sometimes you are sure a piece is going to be the right one, and it is not at all; sometimes you grab a piece and know exactly where it goes; sometimes you try a spot thinking it’s not right at all…and it’s perfect!

so, how far did i get in 4.5 hours? well, let’s just say i am SO VERY GLAD i put a time limit to my puzzling and didn’t go for the completion goal!

i could tell i had less pieces and more space on the table...

i had little groupings of pieces: here is my "string fence" (as opposed to the picket fence section)

at 9 p.m., the puzzle looked like this:

i was most happy that the big red section was attached to the frame - and a few sky pieces are in there, see?!

and i looked like this!

note the time in the background - five minutes to go! feeling a little punchy!

wow – have to say that overall, the time flew. the last hour was a slog, though. i only kept going because of my time goal. and i honestly thought i would accomplish more. the good news? i had FUN the whole time! if i found myself getting bored, i’d simply switch from building the barn, to rounding up the cows. i hopped about my themes a lot during the final sixty minutes.

so will i finish the puzzle? i hope so! it’d be nice to have the COMPLETED puzzle on the table as a bit of autumn décor. and with the puzzle pieces in plain view, it’s the kind of thing where i can just take five minutes as i walk by and see what i can do. maybe i’ll have some time this weekend? (we celebrate thanksgiving!). but, if i end up sweeping the puzzle pieces back into the box at the end of october, i’m not going to sweat it. i had fun seeing what i could do in my 4.5 hour puzzling blitz!

i guess i have another october goal!

have you ever done marathon sessions of something? how did you cope? as a teen, i once knit all day to finish a sweater for a party that eve, and i once ran in a 6 hour ultra event. then there was the epic 34 hour drive from moab, utah back home – i’ll never forget blasting cher at 3 a.m., driving through nebraska! my mental strategy always is to break the large timeframe into small chunks!!

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  • Lisa  On October 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I love that you did this! And I also love that there’s not really a “point” but that you had FUN the whole time!

    Lately, I have only had marathon sessions that were work-related, but in the past I have with other things—my sister and I played a McDonalds nintendo game until we beat it. That took a ridiculous amount of time, and it bruised my thumbs.
    I know I’ve done it with other things, but they’re escaping me right now. It’s been a while!

    I empathize with the “cold face.” I felt the same way just an hour ago when I walked to my car from class. I guess it’s supposed to get warmer for the weekend, but dang it was chilly out there tonight!

    We belong in Florida!!!!!

    • 1970kikiproject  On October 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      thanks, lisa! yea, it was fun to do something for hours that really had no point, other than being fun! i think we need a marathon florida visit – you game?! hope work is not too crazy this week!

  • Holly  On October 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I too could probably “watch” Real Housewives but never actually look at the tv!

    I used to love doing puzzles with my Mom — she is a big fan and loved doing ones that took up the entire dining room table. I haven’t done a puzzle in years — I don’t think Jason and I even own any!

    • 1970kikiproject  On October 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      your mom could probably have accomplished a lot more in 4.5 hours! rh was great background entertainment – i think it helped the time fly!!!

  • Zo  On October 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I suspect my marathons all involved watching tv!
    That looked like a lot of fun and I like how you strategized it all out. Love the “weather not making me happy” photo. That’s how cold weather makes me feel too.

    • 1970kikiproject  On October 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      happily, it’s gotten warmer again – sadly, the trend is going to be towards colder and colder! i could be convinced to do a real housewives or jersey shore marathon…no need to really think or chance that you’ll lose focus with those shows!

  • Stephanie  On October 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    This was such a fun post! It isn’t easy to focus for so long. You’re right…I did kind of think it would be more “done” after 4.5 hours. But who am I kidding? I’ve been known to spend 45 minutes trying to fit just one piece into a puzzle! I hope you finish it. One thing about having a puzzle out in a public part of your house is that anyone who sees will try to put in at least one piece. I think you’ll finish before the end of the month! Maybe have a dinner party near the end if it’s looking iffy. Ha!

    • 1970kikiproject  On October 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

      i know!!! i would have guesstimated that i would get at least 1/4-1/2 of the puzzle done, honestly. so much for that! and yes, isn’t it funny what a eureka moment you have when you get a puzzling break-through! haha, what a great idea you have given me…i can say i’m hosting a hallowe’en get-together…when really it will be a “help cathy finish her puzzle” invite!

  • Johanna B  On October 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I’ve done marathon sessions of reading, watching certain movie series, counted cross-stitching, hiking, cooking and I’m sure other things as well. During those times time passes quickly and I do a lot of thinking (as you did). I don’t think I could focus on a puzzle that long. It would make me nutzo.

    • 1970kikiproject  On October 5, 2011 at 8:53 am

      ok, you’re an experienced marathoner!! i did start to feel a little bug-eyed after the 3.5 hour mark, have to say…but i expected worse, actually.

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