Here's the Scoop: March 14, 2012

Who uses these words?
Even during a season like this year, without much snow or many frigid days, winter tends to drag on like a parental lecture.

For this reason, it’s good to have a hobby to help pass the long, chilly days and nights. Hobbies are something that I don’t have many of — unless you count napping on the couch. That’s one that I spend a fair amount of time at during winter and, I modestly state, I have extraordinary skills in this area.

Unfortunately, my hobby of choice is not unanimously endorsed by other household members. The cohabitator who often curls up at my feet and purrs during my slumber sessions is fully supportive of my efforts to recharge my batteries as often as possible. This line of thinking may have something to do with the fact that I am the primary kitty food distributor.

No matter the motivation for it, I find it comforting when my hobby is so well understood. I guess this may also have something to do with the fact that cats sleep an average of 16 hours per day. I get that. Totally.

My wife, however, doesn’t completely understand my (our, if I can speak for the cat) fascination with a relaxing little slumber to escape from everyday pressures. As a result, each winter I am “encouraged” to find a constructive hobby that doesn’t involve the use of a pillow and a fleece blanket. Try as I might, I can never come up with a worthy alternative.
“Let me sleep on it,” is my standard response to the question of me finding a hobby.

Here’s an idea
Although my wife has pretty much accepted the fact that I’m not really interested in hobbies like woodworking (I hate the sight of blood) or coin collecting (I’m much better at spending them), she continues to try to find something to hold my interest (read: keep me awake). This winter, she thought that maybe doing crossword puzzles would be the hobby to keep me spellbound — and out of hibernation.

So, she purchased a hefty (“robust” five letters across, fourth letter is “t”) book of crossword puzzles. I guess my wife figured since I have a decent vocabulary and since I also enjoy swearing, “cross words” would be a natural fit for me. They’re not.

I tried to join in some of the fun, but I was mostly puzzled. The thing I’ve noticed about crossword challenges is that the answers are rarely normal words such as “doze,” “snooze” or “siesta.” These are words with which I’m quite familiar.

But crossword puzzle makers don’t have me in mind. No, they want someone who sees the clue “beacon basket” and quickly realizes that “cresset” is the answer being sought. Looking at the answer key, it seems so obvious.

This was not the only crossword puzzle response that had us completely stumped. But, it sure was cause for some head shaking.
“I can honestly say I’ve never heard of a cresset,” I told my wife, after she looked up the answer. “I wonder if it’s big enough to nap in?”
— Brian Sweeney