Sunday, June 29, 2008


To the crossworld, Linda G wrote about the New York Times crossword puzzle every day in her blog Madness ... Crossword and Otherwise and, incidentally, about her family and her job. Or was it the other way around. We learned this week that she will no longer be able to continue her blog. She had gone into hiatus earlier this year and came back just a little shaky because job and family were more important to her than writing about crossword puzzles but that she would try to keep all three balls in the air at once. She apparantly lost that battle.

She used a photo of Ava Gardner as her avatar and, since I never met her, that is how I pictured her. A celebrity photo has never been put to better use.

I solve the Times puzzle every night before I go to bed and my first stop to check my answers was her blog. She was not one of those Super Solvers who blew through the puzzle in less than 5 minutes. As a matter of fact, I have no idea how long it took her to complete the puzzle - she never said. I learned the expression " I declare this puzzle solved" when she reached the end of the line and could not finish. This didn't happen often but enough to humanize her. I shamelessly appropriated the expression for myself .

I was introduced to some other blogs through her site, most particularly Robert Loy's Green Genius where he wrote about his family and country music, Anna Southward's A View from my Window where she presented her poetry and graphics (N.B.: A Crossword Pantheon Moment this blog) and Wendy's I estivate, therefore I am a blog about the music of the Boomer Generation and my youth.

So Goodbye Linda. I hardly knew ye. And every time I see Ava Gardner, I will think fondly of you.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


When I was a senior in high school, we were called upon to memorize 10 lines of poetry. Being something of a wiseass, I decided to do The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe which was considerably longer than 10 lines. When it was my turn to recite, I accomplished the feat with just a couple of stumbles. Most of the poem has stayed with me to this day. Oh, I can't recite all eighteen or so verses, but, if prompted, I can rattle off 15 or 20 lines.
All this is apropos of one of the quirks of my Multiple Sclerosis. I say My Multiple Sclerosis because one of the real oddities of this disease is the nature of its symptoms. MS is a disease of brain lesions and how one is affected depends on just where on the brain the lesions are located. In my case, the left side of my brain has the lesions and I have generalized weakness on my right side and my speech center is affected.
I could very well be paralyzed or blind so, all things being equal, I got off lucky.

When I was first diagnosed, I had a real problem with talking and maintaining my balance. I was fond of saying I had to relearn how to walk and talk and crawl on my belly like a reptile. One of the first things that dawned on me was that reciting poetry and talking were two entirely different processes. I'm not sure why that occurred to me but it did. Perhaps you are aware that certain singers, such as Mel Tillis, stutter but have no problem singing because singing and reciting poetry are right brain processess and speaking is a left brain process.
I figured out that I could talk with a minimum of trouble by memorizing what I wanted to say, then saying it. That is a very exhausting enterprise but, to some extent, it works at least in the short run.

All of the above leads me to this: I had a relapse a couple of weeks ago and had to be hospitalized for a few days. My doctor stablilized me and I was released, on crutches and stuttering up a storm. I am an outpatient and am taking physical therapy for my balance and speech therapy for my speaking. When the brain lesions "heal" I will be back to "normal," whatever that is.

Anyway, I missed about a week of doing crossword puzzles but my doctor - who is also a fan of puzzles - tells me that returning to them is good therapy. So I am back.