Looking for puzzling solutions

I have always liked words. I guess that’s one of the reasons I became a journalist. Picking out the exact best word to describe or explain something gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

Truth by told, that’s one of the reasons I married my husband, Larry. Larry has always treated words and language as more of a toy than a tool. I think he gets that from his dad, who was an inveterate punster. Larry’s mom was a professional speaker, giving a speech every week in front of whatever congregation she was serving as an interim pastor. What I’m trying to say is he comes by his wit naturally. Our latest mutual passion uses both of our skills and it uses them together.

Larry got me started on doing word puzzles. I tend to favor the easy ones that require more vocabulary skills, while he likes the ones that use puns and wordplay. He gets more practice than I do, since he does the New York Times crossword almost every day. That’s the gold standard of crosswords, according to him. He had a goal for a long time to finish an entire week, which he finally did a year or two ago. I’m not quite that intense, so I leave the tougher puzzles to him. Sometimes, though we find puzzles that require both of our strengths. In fact sometimes, I beat Larry into figuring out a particularly difficult answer.

Most of the time, I get frustrated as Larry reads much, much faster than I do, and so would answer clues before I even knew what they were. Our favorite puzzles to do together are picture puzzles that use the pictures as clues. For example, a puzzle we just did last night required us to figure out Tom Swifties. If you’re not familiar with that expression, Tom Swifties are sentences where an adverb at the end describes the rest of the sentence. So for example, “I need to sharpen my pencil.” Tom said pointedly. Some of them were very tough and required thinking not only outside the box but in a whole other county outside the box.

But we work together. Sometimes one of us will have a flash of inspiration and other times, we have to talk through it before we can figure out the answer. The most important part of it, though, is that we work together.

It’s really easy to get away from working together as a married couple, especially when you don’t always get a chance to even be awake and in the house at the same time. Stresses of work and everyday life can make taking time to be together really tough. But we’ve found a kind of sanctuary in that half hour before we both go to sleep. I think it’s made a big difference, as we are much more able to work together in other areas, too.

Now, what’s a six letter word for break fluid? Oh yeah, coffee.