Crosswords are tremendous! Or, expand your word horizons.

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Those “dog days” of August summer have arrived, with a head index of 105 degrees today. Stepping outside into this figurative blast furnace brought mental images of my mind – and plans for inspired writing discourse – boiling to a liquefaction halt.

Now back in air conditioned heaven, I’m trying, trying to reform coherent thoughts. To flex those writing muscles to ensure they aren’t completely atrophied from the relentless heat and humidity. Come on, words! From brain to fingers to keyboard to computer.

But articulate wordsmithing is not forthcoming. Instead, my reflections keep returning to … crossword puzzles.

Crossword puzzles on United States presidential facts.

Crossword puzzles on United States presidential facts.

Crossword puzzles on the American Revolution.

Crossword puzzles on the American Revolution.

Crossword puzzles on anything and everything!

Crossword puzzles on anything and everything!

These are my son’s crossword books. He LOVES them. He took several to overnight camp. In summers past, I had him keep a journal to prevent fledgling writing skills from sliding. This year, however, the journal has been partially supplanted by crosswords. He’s engaged, learning new words, honing spelling skills and soaking in some history to boot. What’s not to love?

I used to do several crossword puzzles a week – usually the ones in the newspaper (yes, some of us still get the daily paper). But over the years, this pastime waned. I wondered: Would I still enjoy the process? Would it be a joyful challenge or a slog? Time to conduct an experiment…

********** CUE PUZZLE-SOLVING TUNES **********

…which, I’m happy to report, turned into pleasant half hour of concentration while dinner was cooking and my exhausted kid (thank goodness for day camp) was sprawled out on the couch, taking in the Olympics. I completed about 75 percent of the puzzle; figuring out some of the more obscure hints and words was very gratifying, indeed.

The upshot: I’m setting myself a very modest, doable goal of solving one newspaper crossword puzzle per week. Who knows what ideas – blogging and otherwise – will result from the activity. At the very least, I will expand my word horizons. And so can you!

Don’t get a daily paper? (Stop laughing.) There are any number of grown-up crossword books available for purchase, on about any topic you can imagine. Or, go to one of the websites that offer online, interactive crosswords, including:

http://www.dictionary.com/fun/crossword
http://www.bestforpuzzles.com/daily-crossword/daily-crossword.html
http://www.bestcrosswords.com/bestcrosswords/SolvableOnline.page

Let the vocabulary games begin!

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