Among my retirement routines, I include many past-times concerned with words. There is the crytoquote and two crossword puzzles from the local paper, not to mention the word jumble which I do daily with my room-mate—our special together time.
The Jumble: Recipe for a Happy Marriage
I have recently discovered Words with Friends, an online Scrabble game. I now understand how people become addicted to online games. I am hooked. I have about 14 games going at a time.
My New Addiction
Let me tell you about the competition.There is my 80-year-old Aunt Frances in New Hampshire. In 5 months of playing with her, I might have won one game. Does that sound right to you? Fair?
Then there is my friend, Janet, whom I met in grade 4. She also usually beats me GOOD! She’s so strategic. I don’t really like losing to her all the time, but I feel her strategies are advancing my skill, so I endure the losses. She was really smart in Grade 4, and she’s still really smart!
Not Janet and Not Me in Grade Four
There is my new friend, Christine, whom I just met through a book club I have joined. We had been running neck and neck over the last few months, but she’s starting to draw ahead…
And through Christine and the book club, I have met Louisa, a Scottish lady. I like to drink Scotch when I’m playing with her, and the more Scotch I drink, the more Scottish words I come up with. That is just coincidence. Loch. Tam. Nae. Aye. I invite her to join me in a drink so I feel like I’m not drinking alone, but I think she refrains for the most part.
I have a couple of games going with my daughter, Emma, who lives FAR AWAY in Colorado. I feel in touch with her, connected everyday through this game medium. I know, that sounds lame, but it comforts me to have contact with her daily through such an ordinary activity. Almost like she is next door.
Barb and Emma
My old friend (I mean long-time, not old) Smokey and I usually have a game going. So far our competition has not adversely affected our friendship. We have been through a lot together over the years, including walking across the north of Spain for thirty consecutive days. Surely we will withstand Words with Friends. Emphasis on the friends.
Barb and Smokey:
My room-mate Tom and I always have two games in progress. When I hear swearing from the next room, I know he’s looking at a good move I made. If I hear a nasty little snicker, I know he’s made a good move. He's also been playing with my above-mentioned, long-term friend, Smokey, whom he absolutely adores. When I hear him calling Smokey filthy and unprintable names, I know she must be in the lead.
(Not) Tom Losing to Smokey
Frankly, I am enjoying my online relationships with my new and old friends. I get a cozy feeling when I sit down to have my coffee with Christine in the morning, or my Scotch with Louisa in the evening. It is nice to rekindle my friendship with a girl I met when I was 10 years old. I would rarely touch base with my aunt if I was not in fierce competition with her on a regular basis. My daily interaction with Emma allows me to stay on top of my parenting duties. I can count on Smokey coming online at about 11 pm to end the day on a positive note. And there is that smug feeling when I hear Tom cursing and swearing in the next room...
Experts claim that word games, crossword puzzles, sudoku etc are good for brain health. When I spend an hour trying to find the best way to play my “q” or “z”, I justify the time-waste as a brain workout. That is working so far. Only a little guilt….
In my case, it's not so good for my physical health. Back in the day, when I was a teacher, I once attended a professional development workshop about different learning styles. There was one category called The Intake Learner. This is the learner who learns best while eating. Yep, that’s me, The Intake Learner. So, not only I am sitting in front of the computer and not moving for hours, but I am also stuffing food down my throat at the same time so that my brain works better. The lack of exercise and surplus of food is showing.
The Intake Learner
You might think this past-time would enhance one’s vocabulary. Let me tell you, I am learning words I have never encountered before. Here are some words currently on my boards: wae, jee, ava,fid,sh,dif,mi,ose,raya, and hame. I don’t see myself using any of those words in my next scintillating conversation. However, those words do have meanings which you will find in the Words with Friends dictionary. Occasionally you will play some obscure mess of letters and the WWF dictionary will tell you that the word “is valid in WWF but has no definition.”
It’s very important to know that “qi” and “za” and “xi” are words so you can get rid of those difficult letters, hopefully on a triple letter square. Then there are the “swear” words, some of which are not acceptable, and some of which are. For example, “slut” is not acceptable, but “_w_t” is. I can’t even write it here, it’s so bad. Not Twit, but it’s close.
The Plural of Qi
Oh, what a feeling when you manage to play all seven letters and maybe even hit a triple word square and a double letter or two!! The highest word score I ever got was 120, but the best word I ever played was RHUBARB!