I set out, with Josh, to do our grocery shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop. But first we stopped at a burger joint to get something to eat (you're not supposed to shop while hungry, right?) and while we were there we worked on the Harper's puzzle, which we used to do all the time til I let my Harpers subscription lapse, but which we received for the first time in a couple years after Josh resubscribed, and which is hard and fun and reminds me of my mom, who is the person who taught me how to do a cryptic. It was incredibly fun to ease our way back into cryptic clues. Do you know how to do them? Here's a real life example from the puzzle we worked on.
A welcome fish (3)
So the deal is that either the beginning or the end of the clue is the actual definition. The entire rest of the clue has to be used in one way or another, and there are a bunch of conventions as to how. In this case, it's common that the word A actually means to use the letter A as part of the answer. So we thought to ourselves, "Is there a 3-letter name of a fish that can be combined by the letter A and a word that means welcome?" And just like that, there it was. A hi Ahi. I'm making it seem much easier than it is, because that happened to be a very easy clue. In the 30 minutes we worked on the puzzle we only solved 3 (so far.) But even so, it's fun to strive, and when I used to take the cryptic on my commute, I loved the way my brain would work and rework and rework with a rare combination of delight and rigor.
After dinner, we stopped off at the Community Bookstore on the way to the coop, because it was there, and we were ambling, and there's something I want to get for a friend, and we ended up giving the young woman who works there our excellent leftover homemade pickles from the burger joint, and also talking for a while about the book I wanted (the one I wrote about the other day: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. By the time we got done there, we both realized we didn't want to go to the coop. We wanted to keep pretending we live in a little tiny village in a copse, with one restaurant and one bookstore. And so we just listened to what our little souls wanted, and heading back home. We have enough soymilk to last another day.