A loose end

When we realized we weren't going anywhere for many months, our family started having a jigsaw puzzle going as a regular thing. We figured we'd be killing a lot of time, and it seemed like a good way to do it.

We've had several puzzles now, and they've all been fun. In addition to helping us pass our cloistered hours, they have gotten us in touch with some fine works of art. As a puzzle, the picture really invites you in.

Last evening we finished one made by a puzzle outfit called Pomegranate. It was an art work by Charley Harper called "Birducopia." I had never heard of Harper before, but it's a nice picture, and at 1,000 pieces it made for just the right level of challenge.

There's something about working on one of these that's addictive. Even when you have plenty of better things to do, if you get going on it, it's hard to stop. And if you're avoiding work, as I often find myself, it's an irresistible magnet.

Jigsaw "puzzling" has some distinct stages that recur with each new picture. One is swearing that a piece you can't find must be missing. You look on the floor under the table. You check in the box, which is empty. Under the tablecloth. One night the Mrs. found a wayward piece stuck to her arm. There were a couple upstairs on the closet floor on one occasion. We figured they were transported there on the sole of someone's foot. 

When the piece doesn't turn up anywhere, you conclude that it must have been left out of the set. Manufacturer's error, you conclude.

But of course, the piece is, in fact, on the table somewhere, dummy – you're just not smart enough to find it yet. When somebody in the household eventually puts it into place, you ask, almost accusingly, "Where you did find that?"

With "Birducopia," we had a new experience: an extra piece! This occurred during a different phase of the process: Where you pick up an interesting-looking piece and approach it with the question, Where does this go? One night, I found a piece that I decided couldn't go anywhere. The one place I thought it might go? 'Twas already filled in. I looked and looked and looked, but there was no other location. I swore, it must have been a mistake.

And lo and behold, for once that conclusion was correct. As it turns out, our box contained a complete puzzle, plus a duplicate of that one piece.

We started talking about how this could happen. Probably the Pomegranate machine chops up the picture, and a bin below catches the pieces. Then the pieces get dumped out of the bin into a plastic bag, which goes inside the box. We figure that in our case, a piece got caught in the bin when the dumping-into-the-bag was going on. It was the puzzle right before ours. Our bag was next, and we got the extra.

Oh, dear. That must mean that there's somebody out there in this world who has a "Birducopia" puzzle with a piece missing! It could drive them nuts. Who knows what harm this might lead to?

So here is the extra piece! If you're the person who got the "Birducopia" puzzle with this piece missing, just let me know and I'll get it to you.

Meanwhile, Pomegranate, thanks for the enjoyable hours with this beautiful Harper, but do check into that bin thing, or whatever caused this problem. The person ahead of us is not going to be a happy camper.