Sunday Puzzles: An Obsession

Puzzle 1.JPG           Puzzle 2.JPG

On Sunday mornings I luxuriate in the pages of the New York Times.  It’s the only day of the week we get the Times, the rest of the week we stick to our local paper, the Washington Post.

The first thing I do (and my husband always lets me, even if I sleep in) is take the paper out of its plastic sleeve, lay out the different sections, shake the heavier sections to free the NYT magazine and book review section (yes! they still have one), and put the sections together in the order I want to read them.  On some Sundays the paper is especially heavy with the addition of a special T-Magazine – a glossy fashion spread that weighs a ton – I usually don’t get to this until Monday or Tuesday.

With the paper laid out on the table, I take the NYT magazine to the kitchen with me to make coffee.  I open it to the puzzles page and find the “Spelling Bee” puzzle.  This puzzle looks like a simple dartboard with one letter in the middle, surrounded by 6 other letters.  I take a picture of it and forward it to a few friends who are also obsessed with this puzzle.  Usually I see a word or two right away and I scribble them in the margins.  I know that every word has to have at least 5 letters and has to use the letter in the center.  I also know that one of the words is likely to use all 7 letters.

The puzzle lives with me all morning.  It sits in front of me as I read the paper – a glance now and then helps me see another word.  I have it next to my plate of gluten-free blueberry pancakes and bacon – my husband’s treat to me every Sunday.  I take it upstairs and lay it on my dresser as I make the bed and if I need to iron some shirts for my husband, it sits to the left on the ironing board (I am left-handed).

The first 5-10 words come easily, but my goal is to achieve “genius” status, as defined by the puzzle-maker.  I am competitive and it drives me nuts if my fellow puzzlers find more words than me.  To keep going, I list base words and use letters to make prefixes and suffixes that might help me find a word. Sometimes I mess up and find words that use letters not in the puzzle grid and have to cross them out.  When I least expect it, I see the 7 letter word just staring at me, taunting me: why didn’t you see me earlier you fool?

When I’ve reached genius status, or I don’t have any more patience, or I run out of time, I look at the answers.  I groan when I see the obvious plain old words I missed.  I get a bit miffed when there is a word that I didn’t know was a word – I might look it up to make sure it exists and to find out what it means.  I’ve learned that the puzzle maker often counts hyphenated words without the hyphens (hyphenated words not allowed), so I include them now, just in case.  And so it goes…

Once I’m done, I’m free to start on the NYT magazine crossword puzzle.  That’s a another story.  (Anyone else out there follow Rex Parker’s blog?)



6 thoughts on “Sunday Puzzles: An Obsession”

  1. I love your description and sketches of this Sunday morning routine! Sounds like a great way to ease into your day. I’ve never seen it before, but it looks like a puzzle I’d enjoy.


  2. This sounds like a great way to spend the day! I think that one of my favorite lines was “The puzzle lives with me all morning.” I am going to have to find this puzzle and try it out!


  3. Your Sunday morning sounds delightful. I spend most of my time reading, then writing, but know that I would love that puzzle, too. The NY Times is a special thing & I receive some of it from my daughter. Maybe I’ll peek at the puzzle? Love that you moved it with you!


  4. Thanks for introducing me to a new puzzle. I’m a Washington Post reader so it’s nice to find out what the NYTimes offers. I love your sketches of your Sunday, too. So glad you added them. Favorite line: When I least expect it, I see the 7 letter word just staring at me, taunting me: why didn’t you see me earlier you fool?
    I like how you have the puzzle talking back to you!


  5. Wow! What a descriptive piece! I especially like the detailed way you routinely open the paper! What a cool glimpse into a very specific world, I previously knew nothing about!


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