Dear Liza,

Our family likes words. We make them up, rhyme them, put them in the ‘mouths’ of cats and hands, and play games with them. Scrabble, limericks and puns are sort of our family tradition.

The beginning….

Since the corona virus shutdown has been keeping us home more, we are finding new ways to play with words. Crosswords.

It started with the printed puzzles in the Willamette Weekly newspaper, but that’s only one puzzle a week! We needed more. Grandpa Nelson found online sites with daily puzzles, which grow in difficulty from Monday to Sunday. Monday’s can be done in under ten minutes., while Sunday’s can take more than an hour and require extra cups of coffee.

We also discovered that some puzzle creators are more fun than others. It’s not enough to ask for a river in Eastern Europe. We love puns. (Tiny sounds from the sheep pen? Bopeeps)

Merl Reagle, king of crosswords

Merl Reagle’s puzzles are our favorites. He was actually famous for his puzzles, which he created for The Washington Post, the New York Times, and other magazines and newspapers. He was even on an episode of The Simpson’s! Merl shared our silly love of words. He passed away in 2015, and I am grateful for the internet that we can still enjoy his good work.

I was enjoying the crosswords so much, I wanted to make my own. It’s harder than it looks! I found grids online, but couldn’t get the printer to enlarge them. So I drew one. Ten squares in each direction, each square being two centimeters, will just fit on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper.

Rough draft

Once I had the grid, I wanted some clever words to be “the long ones”, the theme of the puzzle. Given the era we are in, I chose “viral video” and “corona beer”, and started making the words to connect.

This is where it got challenging. Words that fit one direction resulted in unworkable combinations of letters in the other. I found myself googling weird collections of letters to make it work. AOLA? Association of the Locksmiths of America. Solved!

My first puzzle…

Since my puzzle was only ten by ten, I was able to get it done in just an hour or so. Auntie Bridgett did the tidy numbers in the corners. Creating the puzzles takes longer than solving them.

And the clues….

Now, I get to give it to Grandpa Nelson and see if he can solve it.

Then, I will make another one, just for fun.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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