Crossword Puzzles

Life Hacks by Foster

You might remember reading Mom’s post, “Life Hacks by Debra Kay.” At the very end she posted this picture and said that a good hack for cats if they want attention is to sit on top of their human’s crossword puzzle book. Then she said, “More about that later”. Well, I’m here to fulfill that promise, along with a little bit of “truth in blogging” that she may have left out were she to have done this post.

Normally, Mom likes to get the New York Times crossword books that have at least 200 puzzles in them. This one only has 50, because she read that the Saturday puzzles are the hardest ones. She gets them from Amazon, because ever since Social Distancing she’s kind of gotten out of the habit of going to Barnes and Noble and perusing through the ones they have there. She gets the large books because now that she’s, well, um…a bit older, she can’t see small print very well even with her glasses on.

I have to say, to all you cats out there in the “blogosphere”, these books make great places to sit. Not only are they comfortable, but you totally get your human’s attention. Quickly, I might add.

And don’t let them fool you: humans will sometimes try to put out a “decoy book” in hopes that you will sit on that one instead of the one they are actually working on. Do not fall for this, Trust me, if you are on top of their current puzzle, you will get much more attention. And, if your human has a blog, you know you will be getting your picture taken for future “blog material”.

Truth in blogging: If you do a post about this, your readers may start to wonder, “Does this lady ever do anything but sit on her bed doing crossword puzzles and taking pictures of her cat?” I personally take offense at this question, Sometimes she sits in the front room on her blue chair while she does them. And sometimes even the recliner! Now we’ve clarified that

One thing I’ve noticed about Mom is that she likes her letters to look “just so”. I’m sure she would complete these puzzles faster if she didn’t have to erase a letter one or two times just to get it to look right. You can see that here, in some of the squares. She doesn’t like it when the letters aren’t centered in the squares, or if they look too messy. That must be from all her years as a teacher.

And if that weren’t enough, she even corrects them when she’s done and marks the ones she got wrong!

And she always puts the number in a circle near the top, just like when she used to correct her school papers.

But if she gets too many wrong, she just crosses it out and doesn’t count them up. Why make yourself feel worse than you need to after struggling with an extra-hard puzzle for days?

That’s not to say she’s above looking up answers online. One really good crossword puzzle website is She also looks up things like countries and capitals, as well as singers’ or athletes’ names, because a lot of this stuff she doesn’t know. Movie names and TV shows after 1987, you can forget. She won’t know those, and she doesn’t feel a bit guilty looking it up. She also says there’s no point in not looking them up, because these New York Times crossword creators have a habit of repeating the same clues quite frequently. So if you can remember an answer from the last time you looked it up, then you get it right on your own merit the second time you see it.

Sometimes she’s determined to figure out an answer by herself, even though looking it up would be easier. On this puzzle, she was trying to find the answer to 31 Down: “Only African capital named after a U.S. president”. She thought she could figure it out by the letters she already had, since she does know most of the presidents’ names without looking. As you can see, the letters she had were “_ _ _ r o _ i a”. After thinking for awhile, she was a bit disconcerted, because for the life of her she couldn’t think of a U.S. president whose name ended in “ia”, with “ro” in the middle. Finally. looking at the letters, without knowing anything about African capitals, she guessed “Monrovia”, and she was right! She went on her way, pretty proud of herself, even though it wasn’t a president’s name. But hey, she got it right, and that’s what mattered. And then, she realized: James Monroe. Get it? “Monrovia?” She just figured that out, like right now. (It took a lot of “truth in blogging” for her to admit that and let me use it here!)

Sometimes you can look very thoughtful and try to make your human think you are trying to help. I think I know the answer to “64 Across”. . .

If that doesn’t work, I can always take a little nap with my tail on Panda. Panda’s not too interested in crossword puzzles. He says he has enough to worry about without knowing most of this stuff anyway.

Unless we ever take a trip to Monrovia in our travel tunnel. . .

Mom says sometimes you can guess answers like you would if you were playing “hangman”, without having a “clue” about the clue. This was 33 Across. The clue was “Sinatra/Bennett duet on the 1993 album “Duets”. As if Mom was going to know that! But the last seven spaces made her think of “New York”, so she wrote in the letters. Then she erased them because it would be easier to illustrate this point.

Once she got a few more letters filled in, it began to look like the word “you” was there because she had the “y” and the “o”. She filled that in, and then since there were two empty spaces between “you” and “New York”, it only made sense to put the word “in”. After that, it was just logic: what would be the logical first word in the phrase “_ you in New York”? So she wrote “see” and then she looked it up online and she was right! “See you in New York”.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that crossword puzzles are very entertaining for humans, especially if they are a self-described “language person”. You’ve also been introduced to a new way of getting your human’s attention with minimal effort.

Well, I think that about wraps it up for this post. Thanks for reading, and have fun doing those crosswords!

For me, I think it’s time for a nap!

12 thoughts on “Crossword Puzzles

  1. Looking great Foster 👍 a really good hack … pitty our Mom doesn’t do Crossword Puzzles … but she does work on a laptop which i occasionally “visit” 😸
    🐾 Charlie

  2. Charlee: “Wow, Foster, your mom sure is meticulous with her crossword puzzles! I bet when she fills out one of those forms that the machines scan and interpret, they don’t have any trouble figuring out what she wrote!”

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