Finally..back among the living. I was one sick puppy.
Thank you again for your kind words and comments. It was heartwarming to know that some of you were concerned when a post didn't appear on time.
Harvey Estes's puzzle was one tough puppy. I was only able to finish it with a lot of outside help, and I don't think that was due to my diminished capacity. It'll be interesting to see what others thought.
My only gimmes were 9A: Where one can retire young? (crib), 20A: Caret indication (insert) and 34A: Watergate judge (Sirica).
I used to live in Kansas...and I've lived in Colorado for the last twenty years...but I couldn't get 5D: Kansas city (Salina) or 33D: Colorado city on the Rio Grande (Alamosa) until I had several letters in place. I wanted Topeka and Durango, respectively...hey, they fit.
Needless to say, I didn't have much of an anchor in any quadrant...so I turned to Google and found:
17A: "The Treachery of Images" painter (Magritte).
18A: Whipps candy bar maker (Reese's). Never heard of it...must not be dark chocolate.
32A: Tony-nominated "Pippin" actress (Irene Ryan)...although that isn't the first name it gave me that fit.
2D: "His eyes are __ fire with weeping": Shak. (red as). I don't get why Shakespeare was abbreviated...
26D: __ shorthair (cat breed) (Oriental). I only knew American, which also fit in the grid.
Favorite clues or answers include 22A: French teacher (maître)...I should have known that, 25A: Back to back: Fr. (dosados)...guessed that, but had it spelled wrong initially, 43A: Kind of hero (unsung), 44A: Big herbicide producer (Monsanto)...not WeedBGon, as commented earlier today on yesterday's post, 46A: Mushroom producers (A-tests), 47A: Natural wave catcher (outer ear) and 51A: Eyeballs (assesses).
Also 1D: Perhaps a little too neat (prim)...was pretty sure that anal wouldn't fly in the NYT, 7D: Is relaxed (rested easy), 8D: Dick Thornburgh's predecessor in the cabinet (Ed Meese)...he's in here often, although never clued this way, 9D: Worse in quality, slangily (cheesier)...again, crappier wouldn't be in a NYT puzzle, 10D: Artist who was a founder of the Pre-Raphaelites (Rossetti), 11D: Encrypted? (interred), 25D: Opposite of encourage (dissuade) and 36D: Targets of those catching some rays? (mantas)...back after a recent appearance.
Favorite clue/answer in the puzzle...27D: Que follower (sera sera). Beautiful.
There were plenty of answers I didn't understand, including:
3D: Creditor's writ (elegit)...okay, that's Latin for "he has chosen."
14D: Tom, Dick or Harry (prename). Huh?
16D: Upper parts of piano duets (primos). I've never played any real duets...maybe I'd have known that otherwise.
28D: Hostilities (animuses).
37D: Early Palestinian (Essene).
39D: Son of Aphrodite (Aeneas). How many sons did she have? I only know of Eros and Adonis...or am I confusing her with someone else?
I still have a few stocking stuffers to get (we were big on stockings in my family, and the tradition continues), but Don doesn't want me to go out...lowered resistance and all. He's probably right, though, so I need to make a list of things for him to pick up. I'm also supposed to bake cookies for high tea tomorrow following Lessons and Carols at church...maybe I can get Elaine to help with that. She and Mike arrived last night and will be here through Christmas. Leslie and Candy will be here Monday morning.
That's it for today. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow. (It's nice to be able to say that again!)