Crosswords and Other Puzzles

When I first found out I had MS, I saw a therapist to get my arms around it. She said, “Look at it this way, no one can ever importune you again. “Will you collect money in your neighborhood for underprivileged crocodiles.” You say, ”Oh, I’m sorry, I wish I could but I have MS and can’t walk too well.” The person then says, “Oh, you just have to phone around.” You say,” “Oh, my hand doesn’t work too well either.” These people are persistent, because someone’s importuning them. Finally she says, ”I’m so sorry to have bothered you. Please forgive me.” Which is a polite way of hanging up on you. And you go back to your crossword puzzle, which the doctor suggested I do to keep my brain doing its best job, ”Thinking.”

I was visiting my friend Sally a few years go and we were doing the crossword puzzle together. A young Tibetan Buddhist monk was also visiting and curious about what we were doing, Sally asked him to look up some things from her reference books, so much more fun than messing with an I-phone. We finished the crossword and Sally scrunched it up in her hand and walked over and threw in in the trashcan. The young monk immediately said, “ What a supreme waste of time.” Sally immediately said, “No, it wasn’t. We all had an hour or so of enjoyment. We maybe learned something. It was relaxing and fun. So no, not a waste of time.” I don’t think he was convinced.

I used to think that people who did crosswords were very smart, but as with everything, it is a learning process. So I started buying Easy Crosswords magazines from the rack at the local drugstore. You soon find out that most of those short words that are used over and over are full of vowels. Some examples are: Oahu, Ames, Oman, Agra, Etna, Laos, Peru, Erie, and Oslo. You get the idea. So, there’s a good start. Vowels are the key in other answers also, so words with lots of vowels are used a lot. The rest you can fill in with what you learned in school, or on the job or in the newspaper. Also, I got a Crossword Puzzle Dictionary. Actually I worked through to tatters a number of them. That was before “The Internet”, which has replaced all those reference books, which bears repeating since it should scare us all silly, all that stuff out there in the ether somewhere. What happens if it goes away and we have no books?

I have done acrostics for many years. A good friend told me that her three daughters got up early Saturday morning to get the acrostic from the newspaper. The first one to call her with the answer won. There was no prize. Being the first was the prize. I told her that if her daughters could do it, I certainly could. She was that kind of friend that I could say that, the kind of friend that if you called her at three in the morning to come get you stranded on the beltway, would say “What in the dickens are you doing on the beltway at three in the morning?” but would come and get you. So I learned to do acrostics. You end with an author and quote. It’s usually interesting and worth the hours it took.

Peter does Sudoku puzzles. He does the Super-duper Hexagonal Samurai Sudoku he gets I don’t know where. I think he picks it up on the Metro. I do the ones in the Post. They start out Monday (lay-downs,) Tuesday (doable), Wednesday (challenging) Thursday (try, but often fail), Friday (only once), and Saturday (never).

At this point, you’re wondering if I have a life. I do. I do puzzles.

One thought on “Crosswords and Other Puzzles”

  1. Crosswords–aah, they keep our brains active, right? I do remember that you, Pete, and Margaret all were puzzle solvers. Stan and I on our own each do an average of 4 or 5 puzzles a week, “crossing” over often to help one another out when we’re stumped. We pretty much do only the NY Times puzzles of which the Friday and Sat. ones often require a bit of cheating! Many a time I manage to put off chores because I “need” to finish up a puzzle. Hurrah for crosswords–they keep us out of mischief! Thanks for a great blog.

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