Puzzle Builder Merl Reagle Got His Message Across—and Down

Merl Reagle, the pun-ishingly inventive man who had created crossword puzzles for AARP The Magazine since 2004, died suddenly of acute pancreatitis in a hospital in Tampa on Aug. 22. He was 65. Those are the facts of the case. What they can’t give you is a sense of Merl’s love of words, or a flavor of how much fun it was to work with him — or a little behind him, I should say, since that’s where his sprinting …

A Deer in the Garden, a Cat in the Box

These are the gentle years, beyond the rages of youth and the desperation of middle age, seasons of summer warmth, and skies so intensely blue that it hurts the eyes to gaze upon them.  Only God and the artist Magritte could paint such skies and implant such peace on a softening day in July. I was sitting on a bench in our garden, a half-acre spread that my wife has transformed into Eden, when it occurred to me how much …