I don’t drink coffee. I love the aroma but not the taste, heat and jitters it produces. So it takes me a bit more time to get my feet moving in the morning.

After catching up on news, what I do try every morning are three online crossword puzzles — sometimes with a cup of Earl Grey tea — and only in a particular order: Yahoo, USA Today and the New York Times crosswords. They are in order from easiest to hardest.

The Yahoo puzzle provides just enough of a challenge while I’m at my groggiest. If I’m having that cup of tea, I’m feeling pretty comfortable when I call up that USA Today puzzle. I’m doing fairly well at that one and have mostly blinked the sleep from my eyes.

These two puzzles are mostly dependable as to their challenges. Once in a while, the two websites offer surprises but they tend to be about the same challenge every day.

But then I reach the notorious NY Times crossword. And if it’s Friday or Saturday, I may leave it to come back to another day. As anyone who works this puzzles knows, it gets harder as the week wears on.

In between the news and the puzzles, the cats require their daily feeding routine, which also contributes to rousing a sleepy head.

Charcoal almost always trips me while Floyd  knocks the spoon out of my hand by banging his head against my hand. All the while three sets of lungs — one tenor, two soprano — carry out choruses as if I didn’t know they were hungry. I talk back at them, “Yes, yes, yes, I’m trying to walk to your food and you’re trying to kill me,” dodging their well-fed bodies. “Gee, Floyd, do you always have do that?” trying to avoid his hard head coming at my hand again.

I don’t need coffee. This event in itself is equivalent to a strong cup of java.

Becky Clark,