The Sugar Cube in My Coffee

I have 11 nephews and a good relationship with (almost) all of them. Being the mother of girls, I hold these boys dear. They make me both yearn for the opportunity to raise a son, and praise the Lord that I don’t.

When you think about the woman in California who recently gave birth to octuplets, and that she’s adding this lot to the six she already had, 11 kids not under my roof isn’t remarkable. So, forgive me when I admit that I don’t remember which nephew teased me about doing the daily crossword puzzle.

“Why do you do those things?” he asked.

I sipped my coffee, set down the cup and looked at him over my reading glasses. “The crossword jump starts my brain in the morning.”

“I thought crosswords were only for OLD ladies.”

Okay, I suppose that was a complement. This was a few years ago, but I was relieved to know I didn’t qualify as “OLD” in his eyes.

The same response still holds about jump-starting my brain with the puzzle, but since I wouldn’t dream of putting sugar in my coffee, I’ve come to realize it’s also a form of sweet entertainment. Almost daily, there’s something in the puzzle that holds a coincidental relevance to our life. Some clues are profound, yet most are a little silly.

Today’s puzzle had TWO!

Clue #1: Camille, our sixth grader, had a poem due today. She’s been working on it throughout the week. Being close to Valentine’s Day, I believe the assignment had something to do with love. She chose to express her love to an Oreo. It’s a funny little poem, just like Camille is a funny little kid.

Other than to correct a spelling error, I had no input. She dunked that cookie all on her own. Her dad, however, suggested a title: Ode to the Oreo, which she used. Ode is a short, two-vowel gem of a word with which all crossword scribblers are quite familiar. Today it was the answer to 83 DOWN.

Clue #2: The second clue showed up during my second cup of coffee, and after we spent the school commute quizzing Willow and her fellow eighth grade neighbor about the names of the 21st through 30th U.S. Presidents. I couldn’t name them before this morning.
I can now! And when I read clue 113 DOWN, I had to run through the little string of reminders we pieced together to remember the Presidents after Cleveland’s second run: McKinley (think mountain), and Roosevelt (think another mountain where his face is).

The next in line is William Howard Taft and this led to my three-letter answer, “WHT.” We recalled Taft because his predecessor’s first name, Theodore, began with a “T” and his last name, Roosevelt, ended with a “T.” (Aren’t we clever?)

113 DOWN jump-started my curiosity about 27th President of the United States, and now I know more about him than is necessary to pass a social studies test. For example, Taft was the tenth Chief Justice of the United States, AND he was the last President to have facial hair. Also, he was the heaviest President, weighing in at just over 300 pounds.

That’s big. I wonder if they should have waited to name Mt. McKinley after the 27th President instead of the 25th.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s crossword brings. It’ll probably be something about soccer, which is what will dominate our weekend. Or more likely, it’ll contain the word “TIA,” which is Spanish for aunt. And once again, I try to remember which one of my nephews teased me for doing the daily crossword.

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