The answer to question #3 ... yes.
The answer to question #2 ... we’ll tackle that answer another month.
The answer to question #1 ... I blame my mom.
I was raised on puzzles. Many Saturday afternoons, especially in winter when I was not brave enough to go outside and face the subzero windchills, I would crawl up next to my mom who loved to work crossword puzzles, worked them nearly daily. There I learned that olio – odds and ends fans – was different than oleo one spreads on toast, that alee was toward the sheltered side and that tar wasn’t only something to put on a roof or road, sailor.
Because she limited herself to crossword puzzles, that gave me reason to explore alternate-type puzzles that remained unsolved in some of her books. She had no clue that any of this would have such an effect on my life. Neither did I.
So when I visit schools, I also like to add that you never know exactly when the next idea may be planted, where a spark may come from, where your influences begin. They could spring from a dandelion seed blowing in the breeze. Or from the stranger who coughs in your ear. Or from a kid who missed the bus. Or they could come from your mom who sat there with a page of squares and a sharpened pencil.