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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

AUTHOR LOIS WINSTON'S NEWEST ADDICTION--CROSSWORD PUZZLES

Author Lois Winston, she who writes about me, stops by today to talk about her latest addiction. Maybe she’ll write me an addiction like this and forget about dumping dead bodies at my feet? A reluctant amateur sleuth can only hope…

I’ve recently become hooked on crossword puzzles. With everything else I have to squeeze into the twenty-four hours of each day, this seems rather puzzling to me—pun intended! After all, I have a book to finish writing, and contrary to Anastasia’s hopes, I have no intention of refraining from dumping dead bodies at her feet. My readers would be extremely upset.

I also have a staggering number of unread books piling up on my bookshelves and in my Kindle. At this rate I’ll need to live well past the century mark before I get to them all. And yet, I keep buying more books! Then there’s life in general, including family responsibilities, and of course, the need to sleep at least several hours a night.

So why am I devoting nearly an hour each day to the crossword puzzles in my two daily newspapers? (Yes, I still read newspapers. It’s where I get many of my ideas for my novels and all those dead bodies Anastasia complains about.)

I think my new addiction must be attributed to my dear friend Janice. She passed away recently after an eight-month battle with Stage 4 cancer. I spent much of that time taking her to doctor appointments and chemo and visiting with her during her many hospitalizations. Janice always carried around crossword puzzles with her. As a retired R.N., she knew the importance of keeping her mind sharp, and she did so by exercising her brain in two ways: She was a voracious reader of mysteries and romances and a diehard crossword puzzle fan.

Having sat with her during hours of chemo, I know how difficult it is to concentrate on a book during these sessions, given the constant chatter from fifteen other chemo patients, their accompanying friends or family members, and the nursing staff, all filling one fairly small room. In addition, a TV was always blaring in the background. So Janice passed the time working her crossword puzzles when she tired of conversation.

I sat down to work my first crossword puzzle after returning from her memorial service. It had been an extremely emotional day, especially since, as her oldest friend, I was one of the speakers. Perhaps she was somehow sending me a subliminal message from Heaven that day. She had always believed in angels, ghosts, and premonitions. I’ve always pooh-poohed the supernatural. Was this her way of telling me she was right and I was wrong? Maybe. Because now I’m working crossword puzzles each day to honor her memory and our lifelong friendship. Hopefully, it will help keep my mind sharp. After all, there are more Anastasia books to write and all those books to read, especially if it’s going to take me decades to do so.

How about you? Have you ever had an experience that caused you to rethink how you felt about something?

13 comments:

Kathleen Kaska said...

What a beautiful gift your friend gave you. I started doing crossword puzzle a couple of years ago as a method of exercising my mind. At first, they were difficult, but now, not so much. What I came to realize is that this is a way to meditate, as well as sharpen my mind. We never too old to learn and improve. Great blog!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Kathleen! I never thought of crossword puzzles as a form of meditation. I've never had the patience for meditation--which probably means I should be meditating! Now I don't feel guilty. I'm meditating through crossword puzzles. ;-)

Liz Boeger said...

This is a lovely tribute to your friendship and a unique way to keep her in your mind and heart. I agree with her belief in keeping the mind sharp. Instead of crosswords I do logic puzzles and play Scrabble whenever possible. I find the logic puzzles twisty enough to keep my plotting brain sharp. As for Scrabble---vocabulary building and it is fun to connect the random words created. Sometimes the spark of a plot idea comes into focus. Thanks for this blog.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Liz. I think I'll keep to the two crosswords a day for now. If I start adding logic puzzles and Scrabble, I'll never get any writing done!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction, blogger at Handbags, Books...Whatever said...

I love your addiction. Your friend was right about brain power too. I used to do Word Search no vowels but now, do a few rounds of Mahjong solitaire.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Vicki! I learned how to play Mah Jong one summer when I was a teenager, but it's been so long that I don't remember how at this point.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I too love crossword puzzles, and picked up the habit from the mother of a good friend. Settling down after supper with the newspaper puzzle is relaxing, helps me focus and think about something other than problems and stress, and is, yes, a form of meditation. I love them. Thanks for sharing your story about your friend, and how puzzles keep her alive.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Susan.

Ginny B said...

Hello Lois,
Yes. Addictions. Sigh. So easy to turn a simple habit into an addiction isn't it? It was online word games for me. Then chess (I missed my Dad and he loved chess.) The latest? Soda crush or Suduko. No value at all but helped me through this incredibly long recovery after yet another surgery. Besides, a friend gave me the book to work through and it reminded me of her. But my favorite? Party games and cards with friends!

I think in our clickety-click electronic culture, it's so much fun to unplug and share laughs over "Taboo" or "What's Yours Like?" or even West Virginia Rummy.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's clear the love you held for your lost friend.
Ginny
(very new to the group)

Kaz Delaney said...

I understand exactly how you feel, Lois. My mother, bless her, was an avid - and very clever - devotee of cryptic crosswords. She was brilliant at them. She had stage 4 brain cancer when she passed away - but we - or she - didn't know until she collapsed. She lasted only a couple of weeks. She was a marvel. In fact on the day of her seizure she had been working on that day's crossword. I've kept it. It reminds me of her resilience and to not complain. She must have been in terrible pain but she never complained. Our only signs leading up to the seizure where a slight change in personality and seeming to forget recent events. (Such as my daughter, a granddaughter she was very close to, having just given birth.) Due to that I was worried and had spent the whole day before with her. That was Saturday and I'd decided to visit her doctor on Monday but she she had the seizure on the Sunday. This has gotten personal and I hope I haven't offended - because I just wanted to offer my sympathy, say I understand completely. This reminded me so much of my mother's last days. Thank you for sharing, Lois. xx

Lois Winston said...

Ginny, I hope your recovery continues to go well. The games certainly have value if they help you get through the process.

Kaz, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I think you should frame that last crossword puzzle she was working on and hang it somewhere special.

Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.

Judythe Morgan said...

Lovely tribute to your friend and a great brain teaser hobby to cultivate. I haven't done many crossword puzzles. My downfall is zigsaw puzzles. Sometimes I have to tell myself to "step away from the puzzle." I wouldn't have to do that with a crossword puzzle book. I need to consider that. Thanks for sharing our new addiction.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Judythe. I'm curious to see how long this new addiction lasts, but as addictions go, it's definitely a healthy one.