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Archive for December, 2011

When it isn’t too hot, I like to walk the mile to my Starbucks, enjoy a tall, and work the morning crossword puzzle.  Sometimes I can finish the whole thing but often I bring home some blank boxes.

It struck me today how life sometimes resembles the morning crossword.  First, we all have a different method of attacking the puzzle.  I start with doing four lines across, then build on the top line for down words.  Puzzle nuts might violently disagree with this method. Just in the same way, parents need caution when telling their kids that “that’s not how life works” because everyone’s life starts differently.  Let them develop their own track of figuring it all out.  Maybe there isn’t a right way and a wrong way!

I love crosswords also because this is one of the few ventures in life where age is an advantage.  Often I have no idea why I know a word.  For example, this morning one clue was: Met melody.  Never been to the Met but “aria” popped into my mind.  Voila!  A tough one was: Arab’s hooded cloak.  Huh?  But after I had a few letters, it came to me:  burnoose.  I don’t recall ever knowing that word before but there it was!  Sometimes the old folks know stuff but we don’t know why, so younger folks shouldn’t laugh at us.

It is also interesting that Bible words pop up all the time.  Today’s was: Biblical boatwright.  Of course, Noah.  This is a good example of how some knowledge of Bible stories and characters does round out one’s education, whether we turn out to be a saint or a villain.  I think the crossword writers are always careful to use words known to Christians, Jews and Muslims so as not to be charged with bigotry.  Have to be politically correct you know.

Crosswords also teach us about life.  Like the word “lip.”  If your mind only runs on one track you might think the answer is “sass” but the same number of letters spells “edge.”  Good example for life, to use an overworked phrase, is to “think outside the box” to figure out your life path.  If your head is always looking down the same old road and you aren’t getting anywhere, you might need to look up for a road sign, or better yet, ask directions.  Men don’t like to ask directions you know.

Puzzles and life come together and make sense just one step at a time.  And last but not least, when you are stumped and think you can’t go any further, don’t throw the puzzle in the trash out of frustration.  I find that if I take a break and come back to it later, the pieces start coming together.  The break can be an hour or maybe the next day, kind of like a mini-vacation.  I don’t try to think up the answers on the break, I just let the old mind rest and watch a Steeler’s game or something.  Cookies help here too.  And on a really tough puzzle, you can always wait for tomorrow’s paper.  I think some of life’s puzzles also may not be answered until Heaven.

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I love Christmas…but I hate going into stores to “shop.”  But since I was going to a nice event today, I thought that it was time for new shoes.  Like the ones I wear to church are about 10 years old and have a lot more years in them, but they now look like old men shoes and a bit scruffy.

I had seen an ad in the morning paper for Macy’s, that they had a shoe sale and also they gave us a $10 off coupon.  Wow, for us cheapskates, that is a DEAL!  Down to the Mall, that ranks just above Purgatory as my favorite place.  After wandering three miles through women’s departments I found I was on the wrong floor.  Then found men’s shoes!  Little signs on shoes got my hopes up for a real DEAL!  Like 20% off or 15%, but I wasn’t overwhelmed with the shoes.  Then I looked inside for the original price.  $150 for loafers made in China by guys that get paid $1.20 an hour?  Wow, so the discount brings them down to $120.  Then I had a $10 coupon.  Suddenly I was back in the third grade, calculating the final price.

There were three problems here:  1.) I don’t buy shoes very often so the price was a big surprise.  2.) I don’t shop Macys.  3.) At age 71 a person shouldn’t submit their heart to shocks like this!   So this confirmed my antipathy to shopping.  At the same time, my Guardian Angel whispers, “Hey, you drove all the way down here, so walk around and look at some other stores!  What’s the hurry?”

Spotted a Foot Locker.  Don’t they just sell tennis shoes?  Wandered down a couple aisles and Charlie the Guardian Angel was right!  Men’s dressy shoes, that fit, look classy and hold it:  how much?  My tightwad inner being took over and I shouted, “YES!”  They were $24.95.  My non-cheapskate side whispered:  “But cheap shoes like this might not last long.  My feet might hurt.  Were they made by child labor in El Salvador?”

Cheapskate won, and I cheerfully pulled out the VISA and waltzed out of the store, hoping that I can now avoid having to shoe shop for a very long time.  Lord, save us from shopping.  I now look like a retired movie star instead of an unemployed science teacher!

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