Tuesday, November 9, 2010

1968, Brussels (Part I)

I have been reading my mother's journals. She had asked me to burn them, but I love hearing her voice again, and I will not burn them. And I will even share bits of them, though not most of them. She may be cursing me (if there is any kind of afterlife), or she understands.

The earliest entry I have found is from when she was 28 years old. It begins:

"Saturday, March 9, is almost over, and I am disappointed because I didn’t do all the marvelous things that always seem possible on Saturdays. And now my excuse is that my back aches a bit from having bent for hours over that habit-forming jigsaw puzzle, which has been part of the scenery in the apartment for the past five days. Altogether we must have spent twenty hours fathoming out the thing—1500 pieces which together make a “Scene in Enkhuizen” by a Dutch painter called Cornelis Springer, 1817-1891, whom until now I had never heard of. Now I shall never forget him. The blurb on the back of the box says that he was “a Dutch painter, etcher and aquarellist. He painted extensively in Holland, Belgium and Germany, and his work has been used in historical books. This picture hangs in Riksmusium, Amsterdam.” I think now that I know every corner f the picture off by memory. I even dreamt about doing jigsaws the other night. Anyway, we are hooked, and the only thing I can say about getting hooked on jigsaws is that , besides being a monumental waste of time that leaves one with eyestrain, backstrain and frustration, they are an excellent lesson in perspective. The little lady in background literally is walking on the head of the big lady in the foreground. The other thing I can say about jigsaws is that they get you acquainted with whatever you are building. The Berlin puzzle we bought in Munich (simple, only 500 pieces and two hours’ work) got me all familiar with Kurfurstendamm, and when we went to Berlin a few weeks later I felt as if I was walking through a three-dimensional puzzle. (That would be a fun short story—getting to know the world through jigsaws.)"

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