Saturday, April 30, 2016


Hearing the recent usage of terms like "playing the race card" and "playing the woman card" reminded me of an amusing play on those phrases.

Our political group needed an auctioneer for a fundraising event and we wanted the service to be donated.  Our usual auctioneer was going to be away from Ohio and our back-up person was ill.

The Chairperson of our organization asked the group if we  knew of anyone who would be willing to perform the service as most of the local auctioneers are members of the opposite political party.   I mentioned a local auctioneer whose mother and uncle are of our political party but his father and brother are of the opposite party.  I knew his grandparents and they had been of our party.  I said, "Maybe he's more under his mother's influence than his father's."

I said that I would check voter registration;  when I did I learned that he is not a registered voter.

When I telephoned him, I told him what I needed and I said, "You don't know me, but your grandmother was my favorite teacher and I remember your grandfather quite well as he was involved with our party when I was young."  He did not comment, and I continued, "Your uncle and I went to school together and your mother was in my brother's class."

In the further conversation I mentioned that I noticed that he had never registered and he said that he found it better for business not to be affiliated.

He agreed to perform the auctioneer duties at no cost.

When I introduced him to our Chairperson, she thanked him profusely for donating his services.  He laughed and said, "What could I do?  She played the grandparent card!"

Friday, April 29, 2016



In the United States, National Arbor Day is an annual observance about the importance of trees and encourages tree-planting and care.  Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872, and is observed on the last Friday in April.  In some states, Arbor Day is observed on different dates based on the best tree-planting times;  e.g;, in California, Arbor Day is celebrated March 7-14.

I am currently mourning the loss of our beautiful birch tree which I had named "ROBERT FROST", in honor of his poem Birches.   I am grateful to have "BIG BEN"--the name I bestowed on the enormous pine tree in our back yard--as it gives us great protection and privacy.  The gingko tree is my favorite;  it was a gift from my mother and I call it "ABBY" because that was one of my mother's nicknames.  No, I do NOT think it strange to name inanimate objects!

Across the street, and for three houses down, none of the houses have any trees.;  directly behind us and beside us on two sides, there are no trees.  Our house is surrounded by trees and I love my JUNGLE;  in fact, I was upset when my husband cut down some bushes to make a path to the street from our back yard.  Prior to that I couldn't see the houses of the next-door neighbors, or houses down the street, except in the winter, when the deciduous trees lost their leaves. Several years ago, one of the neighbors grumbled to Gerald about having to rake "OUR" leaves. Gerald offered him the use of his leaf blower.

When we first moved here, we noticed that some of the neighbors had aluminum pot pie pans tied in their trees. Then we noticed some of them were outside banging boards together. We thought this was rather curious behavior. One day Gerald was outside and the next-door neighbor asked him, "What do you folks do to get rid of the birds?" Gerald naively answered, "We do everything we can to attract them." Obviously that was not the right thing to say; the neighbor turned and walked away and didn't speak to him for the next several years. They kept banging and clanging to keep away the birds and we were installing bird houses. I told Gerald we had "disturbed the status quo".

Eventually that house was bought by people who turned out to be friendlier neighbors;  or, perhaps, it was because, when we moved here, WE were the new neighbors with different customs, and now, we are the long-time residents, but I'm not grumbling. All of the houses around us, except for one, are now inhabited by people who bought the houses after we were here.

AHA! We're now the status quo!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


In yesterday's Sue's News article I HATE EUPHEMISMS, I wondered why secretaries are now labeled "Administrative Professionals".  The following is an homage I wrote in 2011 about a great secretary who was--and is-- a true PROFESSIONAL.  

Patty has the unique ability of having nearly EVERYBODY like her.  Of the nearly 1,000 people at our work site, I swear that you could not find one person to say a negative word about her, from the Vice-President to the janitor.

Patty became my friend, which meant that I broke my cardinal rule about work: that one cannot be FRIENDS, just FRIENDLY at work.  We are still friends.

I had seen Patty at work when I would go to the "trailers"; our plant was large but could not accommodate all of the activity necessary for the government contract; thus, the trailers were brought in to satisfy the need for office space.  I would speak to Patty but had no dealings with her as I would be there to see the Manager.

When an opening for Production Department Secretary became available, there were 19 in-house applications. The secretary would be shared by four Production Management people, all of whom would be interviewing all of the applicants. The process would obviously take a considerable amount of time. 

There had been a problem with the previous secretary not maintaining confidentiality. I created a matrix and interview form and the applicants would be graded according to the guidelines; then the Managers would make a decision based on those scores. We had an extraordinarily young work force; the average age was 26;  the only "old" people were in management positions. 18 of the applicants were young, attractive, women with some relevant experience; Patty was the only "mature" candidate. At the beginning of the interviews, each of the interviewers were to caution the applicants that the interviews were to be kept confidential and not to be discussed with other employees.

After I had completed an interview with one of the applicants, I looked out of the window from the mezzanine and saw the applicant talking animatedly with a group of people. One of them was one of our Team Leaders. About an hour later I asked the Team Leader the topic of that conversation and I was told that the applicant was telling about the interviews she'd had.  I told my colleagues that the applicant needed to be removed from consideration. She was a favorite of one of my colleagues and he said that we needed to ask her about it instead of just taking someone's word;  he called her to the office and asked her if she understood when she was told she couldn't divulge anything about the interview that she should not talk to anybody about the interview. She answered that she did.  I then asked her why she had told several people about the questions. She didn't even bother to deny it but shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't see anything wrong about it.

When Patty came for the interview, after the perfunctory warning about confidentiality, I concluded the interview and asked my last question, which wasn't on the interview sheet, "Do you know the derivation of the word secretary?", and she answered, "It's from the Latin--secretum--to keep a secret." She later told me that she'd looked up the word secretary before the interview.  How fortuitous for her!  Her score with my interview was the highest of any of the candidates I interviewed.

When my three male colleagues and I gathered to make a decision, I think that they were all surprised that their choice was also Patty, but they had followed the matrix and guidelines and they had arrived at their conclusions based on qualifications, as Patty was obviously the most qualified.

After being in the job for a short time, Patty confided to me that she thought that she never stood a chance of getting the job because all the other applicants were young, pretty, and there were going to be three men interviewing the applicants.  I asked, "You didn't know there was a woman interviewing too?" She laughed and said, "All the times you would come out to the trailer, I thought you were that GOVERNMENT LADY because everyone was afraid of you and when I came for the interview, I wondered WHY you were interviewing for the Company." She said that it wasn't until after the interview that she learned about my position with the Company.  She said, "At the end of the interview, when you asked if I had any questions, I'm surely glad that I didn't ask if you worked for the government!"

I did my best Strother Martin imitation of: "What we have here is a failure to communicate!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Today is "National Administrative Professionals Day";  what the Hell ever happened to secretaries? Does it really make a secretary feel more important to have that title?

I HATE euphemisms!  Euphemism:  "a substitution of a word, indirect or vague term for one which is considered to be unflattering, harsh, blunt, or offensive."  As for myself, I have no problem with the "real words".  Here is a list of my least favorite euphemisms:

GIRLS (women)
PUT-DOWN (they kill those animals)
SANITATION ENGINEER (garbage collector)
BETWEEN JOBS (unemployed)
WELL-TO-DO (rich)
CUSTODIAN (janitor)
PREGGERS (pregnant)
SENIOR (old)
PRE-OWNED (used)

Listen to George Carlin who also hated euphemisms:.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


In yesterday's Sue's News article BLOWSY, my brother mentioned that it was interesting about the number of disparaging words used ONLY for women.  He said, "You know you never hear men described as BOSSY."  I said, "Sheryl Sandberg and Beyonce have a campaign to eliminate bossy as an adjective for girls."  He asked, "Then what would we use to call you?"  After a minute, he said, "BALABUSTA is perfect, but not too many people know Yiddish!"  I said, "And Yiddish is also replete with disparaging words just for women!"

He asked, "Remember when Lou Grant said to Mary Richards, 'You've got spunk!' and she was smiling at the perceived compliment and then he said he hated spunk?, you never hear spunk in reference to women."  Enjoy the hilarious clip:

I told him, "When Mother was a girl, one of her nicknames was Spunky."

He said, "You're gonna make a list, aren't you?'

He knows me too well.

I will NOT mention the common "B" and "C" derogatory words used about women, but look at the list from The Gloss:.15 words only used to describe women:


Not ALL of the words are disparaging, but one never hears them used for men!

I conducted a quick survey among three friends who are women and these were quickly added:


When I shared the lists with my brother, he said, "Oh, how could you forget SENSITIVE, sistah?"


He is ALWAYS very incisive!

Monday, April 25, 2016


My brother asked, "Hey, do you know this word blowsy?"  I answered that I did and he asked for a definition.  I said, "It means a coarse woman, but the perfect example is Shelley Winters-- if you look in the dictionary--her picture is probably there with blowsy!"

He asked, "You mean the Shelley Winters of A Place In The Sun or the Shelley Winters of Lolita?"

I answered, "BOTH, plus her in Alfie;  only Shelley could be blowsy as a young woman and a middle-aged one too!"  He said, "The only thing I remember about her in Lolita is that she pronounced Van Gogh as VAN GOCK!"  I said, "Of course that IS the proper pronunciation, and in the book, she is a refined person who would know THAT, but the movie makes her look ridiculous."

I said, "Shelley Winters playing Charlotte Haze in Lolita has to be one of the greatest worst castings EVER;  I can't believe Kubrick read the book or Nabokov allowed it;  in the book Charlotte was definitely NOT blowsy;   Winters was totally WRONG for the part!"

As we looked up BLOWSY, we learned that FROWZY is a synonym!  Shelley qualifies as FROWZY also.

My brother's comment:  "Isn't it interesting the number of disparaging words are just for women?"

Sunday, April 24, 2016


                                                                HAPPY PASSOVER

It is a constant source of sadness to me the amount of anti-Semitic references I encounter in my small community. 

In a class today, because I'm known to have songs for many occasions, a classmate asked if I knew a song for Passover.  I began singing Dayenu.  Listen below to a good version:

Then I laughingly asked, "Isn't it amazing that the most popular--not the most religious--Easter and Christmas songs were written by Jews?" Another classmate asked, "Which ones?" I answered, Easter Parade and White Christmas by Irving Berlin and  The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" by Mel Torme." I continued and said, "I love to sing Easter Parade just to be able to say Rotogravure.", which, of course I had to demonstrate.

In what had been an enjoyable conversation, another woman in the group spoke up and made a remark about how terrible it was that the Jews hadn't accepted Jesus.

I asked, "Why is it terrible?"

She was momentarily flummoxed but soon responded, "They'll be going to Hell." I answered, "But THEY don't believe in Hell." She looked positively bewildered and said she didn't believe me.  I said, "Perhaps you should study some."  Obviously insulted, she said, angrily, "I DO study." I said, "Obviously you haven't studied the Bible."

She said, angrily, "I know MY Bible."  I answered, "Perhaps you're confusing the Bible with the New Testament, as it's called." She said, "They're the same thing and what do you mean by saying as it's so-called?" I answered, "But, of course, I DID not say so-called, I said 'as it's called', but they are NOT the same thing; the Bible is the Bible and the New Testament is the New Testament."

As oftentimes happens in a heated discussion, she began using ad hominem remarks, instead of relying on logic.

She said, dismissively, and with an air of superiority, "I'll just pray for them." I countered with, "They don't need or want YOUR prayers; why don't you just do as Jesus said and pray ye in your own closet?"  She asked, "Where do you get off telling me that?" I said, "Somebody SHOULD be telling you."

She said, "It's none of your business." 

I answered, "EXACTLY, just as it's none of YOUR business what the Jews do!"

Saturday, April 23, 2016


For Christmas Gerald gave me an Elvis desk calendar.  Each day there is a different, gorgeous picture of Elvis to greet me.  Sometimes the pages will have bits of trivia.  On April 10, the caption read:

"Q:  Technically, Elvis' first radio broadcast came at 10 years old, singing in a youth talent show.  What song did he perform?"

"A:  Ole Shep".

My first memory of hearing Ole Shep was hearing my father's recording by Red Foley.  The song always brings a lump in my throat.

Yesterday I was in Aldi's and I noticed that the dog food items are named SHEP;   of course, I began singing Ole Shep, in a low voice, using Elvis' arrangement.  Listen below:

A woman, bagging her groceries, asked, "What were you singing?"   When I told her Ole Shep she told me that her father used to sing it and he was a local musician.  When I asked his name she said, "Ralph Streitenberger." and I asked, "So, you are Red and Vanilla's daughter?"  She was delighted that I knew her parents and I told her my maiden name, that we were from Bloomingburg, and that I had enjoyed hearing her father perform numerous times, and that he had been my brothers' barber. As I shared several fond memories about her father, she said that it was wonderful to know how well he was remembered.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Listen to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Since January I have been "decluttering" (see my BLOG articles: The Story Of Stuff, No More Stuff, and Rule Of Five) and have been gathering "STUFF" for the Rummage Sale Fundraiser for our group RESCUED ANIMALS READY FOR THEIR FUREVER HOMES.

The President of our group joined me to "price" some items which had been donated.  I already had 15 tubs of  my donated "STUFF" priced and set aside.

It quickly became apparent that she and I have differing views about "value" as she thinks that my prices are too cheap.  I told her, "I just ask myself: do I want to get rid of this or take it back in the house?"

She put a dollar sticker on some books and I said, "I have lots of books already priced and I have 50 cents for hardbacks and 25 cents for paperbacks."  She said, "But these cost a lot of money."  I said, "And they sell them for 99 cents at Goodwill."

She held up an item and asked, "What do you think?  20 dollars?"  I said, "This is a RUMMAGE SALE, not an ESTATE SALE!"

She held up a donation from herself of a small Googly Eyed Dog figurine planter and said, "This is Occupied Japan;  it's worth a lot."  I said, "I'll look on EBay.";  the bid on EBay was at $4.99 plus shipping. She said, "But the Buy It Now price is $21.45."  I said, "But that would suppose that one would actually be BUYING it NOW!"

I answered, "If you have some sort of emotional attachment to stuff, you better just keep it."

She held up a pair of boots and said, "These are Uggs;  they're worth a lot."  I said, "But they've been worn."

She showed a teapot with matching sugar and creamer set from Hall.  We looked on EBay and for a comparable item but could find nothing similar.

She put a price of $30.00 on the set;  I predict it will be taken back in the house.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


In yesterday's BLOG article I mentioned that a number of folks had mentioned that they had heard that our house is haunted.  We have never had any strange or mysterious happenings.

However, I am aware of how such rumors might have started.

There is a laundry chute in our house and when items are thrown into the chute from an upstairs bedroom, they land in the downstairs bathroom, where they fall into a hamper in the linen closet, which obviously causes noises.

In the 1980s, one of my nephews was a regular overnight visitor at our home and he would invite friends to come to visit him at our house, oftentimes inviting them for dinner.  He would direct the friends to the bathroom to wash their hands. He would then run upstairs, throw things into the laundry chute, or make make eerie sounds.  He would then hurry back downstairs, by which time the boys literally had SOMETHING "scared out of them"!

He would then suggest that the house was "haunted" and that we were always hearing and seeing all kinds of strange things.  None of that was true, but he had great fun scaring the friends.

Years later, I was talking to one of those visitors--by then, all grown up--and he told me that my nephew had told him the house was haunted.  With great amusement, I told him how my ornery nephew liked to dupe his buddies with the laundry chute ruse!

Listen to John Fogerty's Haunted House with the last line being, "Ain't no haint gonna run me off!"

A "haint" is a regional term for a ghost!  If the house were haunted, I would NOT let the "haint" run me off!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I do NOT believe in ghosts, but naturally, I love the word for the belief in ghosts:  EIDOLISM.

A woman, who was a stranger to me, but has since become a friend, learned that my grandparents had owned the house where she now lives.  My grandmother died when I was thirteen years old and I have not been in the house since.

When this new friend learned of my family's connection to her home, she said, "I want to ask you something."  I immediately knew what she wanted to ask and I answered her by asking, "The little girl with the long, blonde curls wearing a white dress?"  The color literally drained from her face as she asked, tremulously, "Yes, did you see her?"  I told her, "No, I never saw her, but as you walk in the front door of the house, on the left side of the foyer was my grandmother's parlor, and on the right side, was her living room;  did you see the little girl in the parlor?"  Once again, she answered with a trembling voice, "Yes!"  I continued, "She died in the influenza epidemic of 1918;  she was three years old; she was laid out in the parlor on a bier which also held my grandfather's coffin when he died."

She continued with other questions about the house, most of which I could answer but I told her I'd have to ask my older brothers about some of the queries.  The conversation always circled back to the "little girl";  I told her that the little girl was born in 1915, my father was born in 1902, and his other siblings were born in 1904, 1906, and 1908.  Can you imagine my grandmother's shock to have a baby at age 49?  My father would tell how she was confined to bed with what she termed "sick headaches";  she probably suffered from postpartum depression and migraines.

When Granny was in her eighties, my father would do her shopping for her and I remember that her bottle of "medicine" was actually a fifth of whiskey wrapped in a brown paper bag.  I still have vivid memories of when I would stay with Granny;  especially the eerie reflection and flickering of the gas lights because there was no electricity in the house.  I recall the beautiful globes covering the lights and how I would turn them up to maximum capacity, much to Granny's consternation as she thought it was "wasteful" to have all that gas burning.   My brothers and I would slide down the banister and my brothers had been smoking in the barn which caused a fire which destroyed the barn.

I have several friends and members of Gerald's family who believe in ghosts.

At one of our Halloween parties, one of the contests was to tell the best ghost story.  A niece told about "Crybaby Bridge" and how one can hear the ghost of a baby crying.  Our niece Robin wanted to go to Crybaby Bridge; after the party, I said, "Let's go!", although it was after 1:00 AM at the time.  Robin and her two daughters Aron and Angie jumped in the car and we headed to Ghormley Road.  Soon a Sheriff's Deputy pulled up behind us with lights flashing. The Deputy came to my car with his flashlight and said, "Tell me you're NOT looking for Crybaby Bridge!" We had to admit that we were.  He told us to leave, because the bridge had been torn down.

The same night I drove into a cemetery and showed them strange tombstones: one of a cut-off tree which was a baby's tombstone.

I learned that we have a Paranormal Society in Fayette County. My friend Mona Lisa has it on her FB page as does our grand-niece Angie. They want to have my house investigated for ghosts.

I took my friend Bobbi to The General Denver Hotel for her birthday celebration. The owner of the hotel gave a presentation about the hotel and its ghosts. Bobbi said that she wanted to go to stay overnight in one of the rooms that's supposedly haunted.

Gerald doesn't participate in such goings-on, and although I do NOT believe in ghosts, I'm "up" for anything!

Monday, April 18, 2016


My friend Vivian Thomas and I have been known to do impromptu recitations.  I understand that students today are not required to "recite".

Last year on April 18, we were at a political meeting.  Before the meeting began, I looked at Vivian and asked, "Are you ready?" She gave me a look of disgust, immediately sensing my plan.

At the end of the meeting, the Chairperson asked, "Are there any further remarks?" I stood and said, "Vivian Thomas and I would like to do a recitation."

Vivian is truly amazing; she recalled more verses than I and I think we learned it in the 6th grade.

Please read the words to The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere and listen to the recitation. I believe the recitation by Vivian and me was more forceful! I wish I had a recording of our performance.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Why have I become so lazy?  In the past, I enjoyed grabbing a dictionary to find a word;  now, I just go to the computer.  I SHOULD use the dictionary as I recall the enjoyment of looking at OTHER words during a search.

Les was using the computer and I said, "Hey, look up the word UNI for me." and I spelled the word. He glanced at me and saw that I was holding The New Yorker.  He said, dismissively, "Of course you'll have a lah-di-dah word from there."

When he had found the word, he said, "EWWWW--I could have lived forever without wanting to know--or needing to know--about UNI!"

UNI:  gonads of the sea urchin

I have a friend who swears he LOVES sushi and prefers eel;  I believe that he is actually one of those people who thinks he SHOULD like sushi because it's "fashionable".

Several weeks ago, when we were together, at a Japanese restaurant, he ordered sushi, and I asked, "Is that CONGER eel?"  As he didn't know the difference between sushi, sashimi, and negiri, I told him, "I shan't trust your opinion on epicurean delights!"

Saturday, April 16, 2016


April 16 is National Eggs Benedict Day;  I am very fond of Eggs Benedict;  I guess I'll make my own as no local restaurant has them on the menu.  

Below are two old BLOG articles about Eggs Benedict:


While staying at a 3-Star hotel, a young friend ordered Eggs Benedict from Room Service. He knew that I like Eggs Benedict (see article below) and it was his first time to have them and he posted a picture on Facebook.  I commented:

"ENGLISH muffin, CANADIAN bacon, poached egg, HOLLANDAISE sauce--now that is VERY cosmopolitan!" (That was an "inside" joke as we had earlier made fun of his being in WEST VIRGINIA!) 

Our mutual friend Jack responded about the photo:

Is that a recipe or the old Court View Bistro?

I replied to Jack's comment:


Jack replied to my comment:

"What's the interpretation of ROFLMAO?"

I replied to Jack:

"Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off--that we had had a Bistro  in WCH!"

Jack replied:

"Yes, I was trying to be funny...and I guess it worked."

My reply to Jack:

"Yes, it worked with me, but in a conversation with another person who knew the meaning of ROFLMAO,  I was asked:  "Why was Jack's posting funny to you?  I didn't know we had a bistro."  I screaked, "It was funny because Jack was making FUN because he knew that we NEVER had a Bistro!  I guess he could've said TRATTORIA!"  

I concluded with:

"Oh, Hell, Jack, if we have to explain 'em......"


I had a client who shared my fondness of Eggs Benedict and he was lamenting that there was no place around to get them. I told him that I had had them at Bob Evans and although they were no longer on the menu, one could tell the waitress and she would tell the cook and he would prepare them.

Shortly after that conversation, he learned that someone who came to the house in a professional capacity had been a Manager at Bob Evans. He told her that he and I were going to go there to have Eggs Benedict; she informed him that Bob Evans didn't carry English muffins, let alone make Eggs Benedict. 

However, he did not have the opportunity to share that exchange with me because the following day, when I walked through the door, I was introduced to the person with whom he'd had the conversation about Bob Evans and Eggs Benedict.  She said, "I've been looking forward to meeting you." I said, "That's nice to hear.", foolishly assuming that she'd heard nice things about me.  She then said, with some hauteur, "I thought you'd like to know that Bob Evans doesn't make Eggs Benedict." Immediately insulted, I said, "Funny thing--I just had Eggs Benedict there last week." She continued, condescendingly, "They don't even have English muffins." I countered, "Funny thing, my Eggs Benedict were properly made on English muffins." Undaunted, she continued, "I know better, I was a Manager there." I said, "And I know EVEN better, because I was a CUSTOMER there and ATE them there last week!"

I could tell that she was unaccustomed to being corrected, but I was highly offended and shocked by her unprofessional behavior and arrogance. I asked, "So how much money do you have with you?" She asked, "What does that mean?" I said, "It means that is how much I'm willing to BET you that I'm right!"

She left in a huff.

What kind of person tries to attack another person about something as innocuous as whether Bob Evans makes Eggs Benedict? The person was at the residence in a professional capacity and yet launched into her silly diatribe. Why did she feel the need to make a big display of her supposed knowledge about something which had absolutely nothing to do with her professional capacity? And what was her motive in desiring to demean a complete stranger?

Today, we went to Bob Evans and had Eggs Benedict. We asked our waitress if she remembered the former Manager and she agreed that she did. My client told her the story of the former manager. Gerald took a picture of my client, the waitress, and the Eggs Benedict.

When we returned to his home, he immediately called to tell her about his Eggs Benedict; she wasn't there but he left a message for her to return his call. I was glad that he was offended on my behalf. He said, "She needs to know she shouldn't lie."

I answered, "What she did was even worse than a lie--she acted as if I didn't know what I was talking about!"

Friday, April 15, 2016


Mona Lisa commented that I am the only person she had ever heard use the phrase "as is my wont" (see National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day article from April 12).

Mr. Kelley, my high school history teacher, used to say "as is my wont" and "as it were" and back then, we would make fun of his usage, but I still use those phrases now, as does my brother, and as we use them, we usually remind ourselves of Mr. Kelley's continuing influence, as it were!

See this from one of my favorite sites Grammarphobia:

"The noun "wont" means a habit or custom, and it can be pronounced several ways: like "wahnt", or "wunt", or "woant". Here's a good illustration of its use, from an 1851 issue of Harper's Magazine: "The elegy was concluded and I was raptureizing even more vehemently than was my wont, when whack, I received a blow on my shoulder." So, the expression "as is my wont" means as is my custom or as I usually do. Example: I get up late, as is my wont, but I managed to get to work on time."

There used to be a verb, "wont", now long obsolete, that meant to do habitually, or to make someone or something accustomed to. The verb was used in its past participle form (both "wonted" and "wont") as an adjective meaning accustom. Thus, a nineteenth-century observer might have said, "I drove my wonted carriage to the ball," or "I am wont to walk to church."

Similarly, something "unwonted" was unfamiliar or out of the ordinary.

The Chambers Dictionary Of Etymology says the adjective was developed in medieval times from an Old English verb ("wonen" or "wunen"), meaning dwell or accustomed. The noun "wont" came from the adjective."

As is my wont, I like "old-fashioned" words and phrases, and appreciate Mr. Kelley's influence.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Today, a long-time reader of this BLOG said, "I haven't seen a CRINGE column for a long time."

Since I began Sue's News in 2010, I have published 20 editions of "CRINGE--FAYCO TALK" which document incorrect  pronunciations by people in Fayette County (including myself).

For the past two weekends I have been at events in Fayette County which attracted a large number of people and a "wealth" of  cringe-producing examples.  

This list MUST include what I consider to be the quintessential FAYCO misused word:


Others heard the past two weekends:

SUPPOSABLY for supposedly

EYE-TALIAN for Italian
IDN'T for isn't
WADN'T for wasn't
AKS for ask
REOCCUR for recur
IG-ZAK-LEE for exactly
SNUCK for sneaked
WIS-GAH-SUN for Wisconsin
IS-REAL for Israel
CANNIDATE for candidate

TOWARDS for toward
ANYWAYS for anyway
                                                                                    RIGHT CHEER for right here

And hearing WARSHINGTON  for Washington; FEESH, WEESH, and DEESH for fish, wish, and dish are so commonplace I rarely mention them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Annie and John Glenn recently celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary! Congratulations to them for lives well-lived.

Below is a BLOG article I published in 2010.

                                   JOHN AND ANNIE GLENN

Yesterday, in Chillicothe, I was honored to once again be in the company of John and Annie Glenn. From his first campaign for Senate to the 2008 Presidential campaign, I have been fortunate to have met the Glenns numerous times, but today was my favorite encounter.

Naturally, people were crowded around Senator Glenn and I spoke to Mrs. Glenn and asked if she would autograph a picture of herself and Senator Glenn. The photograph is from a 2006 publication, The Road To Blue".  Mrs. Glenn looked at the picture and said, "I'm wearing the same jacket in that picture as I am today."   I said, "Well, it's a classic--it never goes out of style--and red is YOUR color."  She said, "Oh, how nice of you to remember that."

In all of the campaigns and appearances I have seen her, she always wore red. She laughed and said, "And I'm wearing the SAME eagle pin and the SAME blouse!" She pointed to the necklace in the picture and said, "And I almost wore that necklace today, but I put this scarf on to keep warm!"

Later, when I asked Senator Glenn for his autograph, Mrs. Glenn pointed out to him that she was wearing the same jacket today as in the old photograph.

Senator Glenn asked, "Does this mean I have to buy you a new coat?"

CLASSICS never go out of style--in clothes or marriage!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Last week I was eating alone at The Mediterranean Restaurant in Wilmington and--as in my wont--I was eavesdropping on the conversation of a group of men sitting at an adjacent table.  After the men had completed their "business-related" conversation, their topic turned to food.  When one of the men began to wax rhapsodic about a favorite grilled cheese sandwich, I felt I had found a kindred spirit and I interjected myself into the conversation by asking, "Do you know that April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day?"  Naturally they asked how I would know such a fact and I told them I have a daily reminder of events sent to my e-mail.  I told them that a friend of mine and I were "grilled cheese connoisseurs" and that we had an ongoing quest to find--and rate--the best grilled cheese sandwich and we were going to celebrate on the 12th with our decision.

The four of us continued with the food-related conversation and then one of the men said that the best grilled cheese sandwich he had was in Monaco and then he said, "Monaco is a country."  Immediately offended that he would think that I didn't know that Monaco is a country, I said, "Oh, we had that in book-learnin' when I went to school."  He realized his faux pas when one of the other men hooted at my response.  I continued, "Oh, gosh, I even know that Monte Carlo is the capital;  do you know what the natives are called?"  He was obviously embarrassed by his companion's laughter at his condescension and I said, "They're called Monogosques."

My brother lectures me often about my reaction to perceived slights but I have noticed that some people from other states think that we are ignoramuses. On Saturday, while seated next to a couple, I noticed a regional speech difference and I asked if they were from New York or New Jersey. They both stated that they were from New Jersey. In further conversation, the man said that he'd gone to college in New Jersey at the state university.  Knowing that New Jersey has only ONE state university, I said, "Oh, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers." He was obviously surprised that I knew Rutgers University, let alone the name of the school's teams, as he asked, with a note of condescension,  "You know Rutgers?" I asked, incredulously, "WHY would you think that I wouldn't know the STATE University of New Jersey?" He said, "Most Ohioans we've met don't know it."  I said, "I would expect YOU to know that Ohio has a number of state universities so I would think that you would expect Ohioans to know YOUR state university." He could tell that I was irritated and he tried to mollify it by saying how Ohioans had been so "friendly", but being a poor sport, I actually said, "New Joisey" instead of New Jersey in my next sentence.

Later, in a restaurant, I was relating the story to my husband when a man in the next booth turned around and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation and I wanted to know if you'd heard that because of the terrible economic conditions they are going to combine Ohio University and Indiana University and move both of them to the state lines and they are going to call it I.O.U."  We all groaned at the joke and realizing he was a fellow eavesdropper, I shared some of my own "overheard conversations":

AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT: When smoking in restaurants was still legal, my husband and I were sitting in a local restaurant and my husband lit a cigarette. An older couple were sitting at a table adjacent to ours and I heard her complain to her husband about the cigarette smoke. I tapped my husband on the hand and asked him to put out the cigarette. Later on, the woman was telling her husband that she wished that she could take a Lifesaving class. I leaned over and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation about the lifesaving and I wanted you to know that the American Red Cross offers those classes and here's the number of the local Red Cross office." She thanked me profusely and within a few seconds, she realized that if  I'd heard about the lifesaving class, then I had heard her complaining about the cigarette. She said, "I didn't mean anything by saying that about the cigarettes." I told her I was trying to get him to quit anyway!

AT A COLUMBUS RESTAURANT: We were sitting in a restaurant and the tables were very close. From the conversation, I could tell that the couple beside us were gay. During their conversation, one complained about the War Sui Gai and the other said that he wished that they had gone to Schmidt's in German Village. I leaned across and asked, "Did you ever eat Chinese-German food?" They looked at me as if I were crazy and I gave the punch line: "It's good, but an hour later you're hungry for power!" They laughed but said, "That's terrible." I said, "I know it's not politically correct, but how many Chinese-German jokes are there?" It was about a minute later when they called for their check and obviously they realized that if I'd heard the Chinese-German conversation, then I'd probably heard the other--intimate--details they had been sharing!

AT MY DOCTOR'S OFFICE: I was sitting beside a woman in the doctor's office. She was busy talking to the man next to her, but it was no normal conversation. She was talking through clenched teeth and it became apparent that the two were having an affair and that the wife was having him followed so the doctor's office was the only safe place for them to meet to talk. She was giving him an ultimatum, "Either you leave her--OR........ "  He was giving the usual excuses which she didn't want to hear and then I became so UPSET because my name was called and I had to go into see the doctor--so I never learned the outcome of it!

The joys of eavesdropping.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Oftentimes I hear a word or phrase used which is not commonplace, and then interestingly, I hear it used again frequently.  My brother refers to this as the word du jour.  I believe that noticing this began with the overuse of the word charisma during the 1960s.

For a long time the favored word has been schadenfreude; in fact, several friends actually report when hearing the word used.

Recently, I have heard the term HIGH DUDGEON used by three different pundits in describing the behavior of several political candidates.

DUDGEON:  means a state of anger, resentment, or offense, and is usually an action because of the way one has been treated;  it is usually accompanied by "high".

Hey, I'm feeling a bit of HIGH DUDGEON myself at the behavior of the candidates acting like impudent five-year-old children!

Sunday, April 10, 2016


I admit that I do NOT know how to test melons for ripeness.  See the YouTube demonstration above.

Liz Vaccariello from Prevention Magazine provides these tips:

      Honeydews especially should have an aroma like fragrant flowers.  If they don't, the melons can         be set on the counter for days to ripen.

     When shaking a honeydew or cantaloupe, pay attention to see if the seeds are loose;  if the seeds          feel loose, it is ripe.

     When a melon is squeezed on the side, it should not be hard.  It should give a little, but not be too        "squeezable".

     With watermelons, when thumped, if it sounds like a dull thud, it is probably a nice, juicy melon.

We were in Florida last year and we were behind a truck with a sign:  "Watermelons $3.00".   The truck pulled into a gas station and we followed.  I asked the man if he had grown the melons and he said, "Yes, ma'am.  I've been raising watermelons since I was 9 years old! "  I said, "Please tell me how to tell if they're ripe."

He pointed to one and asked, "You see that yellow belly?"  I said that I did.  He told me that meant it'd been laying on the ground and was ripe. He continued, "I guarantee this will be the best melon you've ever tasted!"  His "guarantee' was easy to offer, I thought, because he would probably never see me again!

 I answered, "Well, I AM a watermelon connoisseur!"   He said, "Well, since you're a great consumer, I'll give this to you for $2.50."  [He thought that I had said "consumer" rather than "connoisseur"!]

I'm sorry to report that that yellow-belly wasn't worth the $2.50 and that in the future I would return to SNIFFING, SHAKING, SQUEEZING, and THUMPING!

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Quite often, on Facebook, I share definitions of LIBERAL.  Yesterday's share:

For quite a number of years, some of us LIBERALS clung to describing ourselves as PROGRESSIVES because the right-wing had blasphemed the word LIBERAL.

I often describe myself as a "Liberal in conservative clothing." because I AM definitely conservative in what some others might consider as "politically conservative":  never had a drink, never smoked, a fiscal conservative, a Manager, and circumspect in my personal behavior.

Admittedly, I am very "square", but most of my "conservative" behaviors are just matters of personal preference and do not reflect core beliefs, but I know that I am a liberal in what matters most in life.

In 2004, I went to the local Democratic Headquarters to volunteer.  The person sitting at the desk had worked for me at Navistar.   He said, "I think you are in the wrong place."  When I asked why he would say that, he relied, "I just figured that you are a Republican."  I asked, "Why on earth would you think that?  I've been a registered Democrat all my life;  you would know that if you checked the voting lists.   He answered, "Well, with your position at work and everything;  where you live;  the way you dress."  I almost shrieked when I said,  "I'm a WOMAN!"

I think it is VERY "liberal" to poke fun at ourselves;  thus I will share Phil Ochs' Love Me, I'm A Liberal which castigates our self-congratulatory posturing!

Friday, April 8, 2016


"Bigots are like the pupils of the eyes:  the more light you shine on them, the more they recede."--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I always thought that was a great quote, but I find from recent political activity I am very glad that bigotry has been exposed and they can't "recede" back into their worm holes. 

Family and friends know that whenever I hear a bigoted remark, I feel it is my moral duty to confront it.   I am not naive enough to believe that I could ever change people or their opinions, but at least I can embarrass them.  Whenever I hear a bigoted remark, I always answer and say that I am a member of the particular ethnic or religious group being insulted.  It's always interesting to see the reaction of people when their bigotry is exposed and yes, they do usually "recede"!  

This all began in the 1970s when my brother Les and I were at a gas station owned by my cousin and a man made a disparaging remark about Hispanics.  At that time, my brother had black hair, a black mustache, and a suntan.  Les had taken Spanish in high school and he and I traded looks of disgust at the man's bigotry.  Then Les began saying things to me in Spanish. Not knowing any more than a few words of Spanish, I answered, "Si, Jose!"  The offender slunk away but I immediately grasped the power of passive-aggressive confrontation.  Since then, I have claimed to be every race, religion, and nationality, but I admit that, until recently,  I never had the courage to say that I was gay, although I would always confront homophobia.

Gerald and I attended a Community Festival in Columbus, and we were, as usual, conservatively dressed.  We were going to meet some friends of ours who just happen to be gay. We had to park a great distance from the venue and as were exiting our car, another couple made nasty remarks about gay people who were walking along the street.  Although I was already hand-in-hand with Gerald, I reacted by saying, "Obviously you do not realize that I am gay or you wouldn't say such hurtful things!"  They did not respond but it was gratifying to see them slink away.

Gerald said, "That's quite a coming-out!"  Of course I'm not gay, Hispanic, black, or any of the others I've embraced, but I have caused a few bigots to "recede"!

When I received my DNA results, Les asked, "Does this mean we have to stop saying we're Polish, Portuguese, and Patagonian?"  I asked, "Are you only defending ALLITERATIVES with all those Ps?"  He said, "We defend EVERYBODY!"

Once, one of my fellow managers at work told a Polish joke.  I said, "Obviously, you don't know that I am of Polish descent." He asked, "With a name like Raypole?" I said, "It was originally Raypolkowsi." He said, "But that's your married name." I said "Shirkowski is my maiden name."   The guy countered with, "Your maiden name was Shirkey just like your brother." I said, "It was Anglicized when our ancestors came to this country.", and just for good measure I tossed in the stereotype, "You know how clannish we all are!"  He actually went to the department where my brother was working and he returned later and said, "I went to see your brother and he told me you guys are of Irish descent."  I said, "Well, you probably said something anti-Irish to him!" 

The remarks which constantly stun me are anti-Semitic ones and I'll relate a few: 

1. All of the management people in my department were together at lunch and one of them made an anti-Semitic remark and I said, "You know, it's amazing that I have never had to resort to those tactics that you ascribe to people of my particular ethnic persuasion." The offender asked, "What does that mean?" My friend John Steinhauer said, "I think she just told you she's Jewish!" 

2. I have a mezuzah on the doorpost at my living room door and a visitor asked, "Do you know you have a Hebrew thing on your front door?"  When I answered yes the offender promptly launched into an anti-Semitic rant. When questioned, the person admitted that she'd actually never even met a Jew.  Obviously she has never been invited to return.

3. Recently, another person whom I see in my aerobics class, made an anti-Semitic remark and after I told her I was Jewish, I could tell that she didn't get the connection between what she said about Jews supposed swindling of people and one's being Jewish. I told her that her term was offensive and she said, "Well, I've said it all my life." and I told her that she's been offensive all of her life.   Fortunately, she now avoids me. 

4. A woman who was a fellow Board of Trustees member at an organization with me made an anti-Semitic remark and when I confronted her she started to say, "Some of.....";  I stopped her before she finished the sentence with "Some of my best friends are Jews," and told her, "I can't let you finish that because that's the most ridiculous thing you could say!" I told her that either she would resign from the Board or I would file a complaint. Fortunately, I never saw her again. 

5. A friend of mine was driving her car and heard a commercial from a local car-dealer on a local radio station and the car dealer stated that he could be "Jewed down." My friend pulled her car off the road, called the radio station, and complained. To our knowledge, it has never been replayed, but I telephoned the car dealership to complain. I was SO proud of my friend.

I am constantly amazed that nearly all of the people who make the remarks have actually never even met or known a Jew.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


In a store recently, a clerk asked my companion, who was in front of me, "Are you more than 50?" My friend who is not yet 50, was humiliated and screaked, "Do I look 50?"

I asked the clerk, "Don't you know that you are not supposed to ask that?" He answered, "That's how I find out if you get a senior discount." I said, "That is ageism; I'm quite sure if you ask your manager you will learn that the proper question is to ask whether we have any coupons or discounts." He said, "Nobody told us that." I said, "Obviously you should have been instructed;  you see, by asking that question the customers can decide whether they want to use the Golden Buckeye Card or the AARP card, both of which your store honors."  He actually called the Manager who instructed him that I was correct.

Although I now seldom fail to use my discount cards, I admit that in the past, I was also embarrassed to admit to being OLD!  I have no embarrassment about my age and readily answer if asked.

My "moment of truth", "defining moment" or "moral dilemma" came for me at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame where discounts were available for "seniors";  yes, seeing how many dollars I could save prompted me to show my driver's license to receive the discount.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


A friend called to ask about poetry as her son was confronting the issue in his studies and she had a list of terms.  After some enjoyable (to me, at least) conversation about meter, alliteration, and assonance, she said, "Iambic." and I screaked in her ear, "Pentameter!"  She noted that it didn't take much to excite me!  I asked, "How about onomatopoeia?" She said, "That's on here too!" I said, "That's the easy one!"  She answered, "Maybe to you!"

Mona Lisa sent this article from The Wise Geek with this note:

"Does anyone read poetry?  I challenge everyone I know to name a current poet; of course, you are exempt as I know YOU would know a contemporary poetess, but I don't know anyone else who would.  Just some questions:  Then why are you the only one I know who quotes poetry, Quote Girl (and WHY did I just italicize that?)  How will 'new' cliches begin if people don't read?  Is 'new' cliche an oxymoron?  Should I use ' or " around "new"?   But I was SOOO proud of myself--on Jeopardy!--for knowing that CHRISTINA ROSETTI was the sister of Dante Gabriel! Knowing you has been my liberal education. Oops, shall I attribute that to Shaw? Oh, Hell, I must look THAT up now --or should I have written 'now look that up', but I don't want to end a sentence with 'up', do I?

[Note: Mona Lisa is known for her stream-of-consciousness writing, capitalization, and lack of paragraphs.]

FROM The Wise Geek:

Studies show the statements that rhyme are more likely to be perceived as
being true and accurate.

Statements that include rhyming words are more likely to be perceived as being true, research shows. In one study, two versions of aphorisms, or concise statements presenting general opinions or ideas, were presented to participants;  one version that rhymed and another version that substituted a non-rhyming word that had the same meaning. Aphorisms containing words that rhyme, such as “birds of a feather flock together” were rated by participants as being more truthful than those that did not. Researchers believe this could be because the brain has an easier time processing rhymes, and people might mistake this ease as indicating truthfulness.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Recently, in conversation with a woman I haven't seen since 1968, the most memorable thing she recalled about me was my Coca Cola habit. That is a sad commentary about me!

I understand addiction.  I am an addict. I do not say this with any humor.  I have been addicted to Coca Cola since I was a child.  I recognize my addictive personality. I am empathetic with people who are addicted to smoking and other addictions which do not harm others.

In April, 1985, Coca Cola committed what is considered to be one the biggest blunders in the business world by bringing out "New Coke" with plans to retire the original Coke (NOW known as "Classic Coke").  When the announcement was made, I, along with many others, began stockpiling Coca Cola.

To illustrate the extent of my addiction:  I was scheduled to go to California for a week on Company business.  In my carry-on bag I packed one change of underwear and cosmetics, and in my other luggage--two large bags--I packed ALL Coca Cola, because I was afraid I couldn't buy Coca Cola when I arrived there.  I knew I could buy anything else there, but, as my brother said, I was worried about "scoring Coke"!  By that time, there was not a store in Washington Court House with any original Coca Cola remaining on its shelves;  I had gone to every store which could possibly carry Coca Cola.  I had cases of Coca Cola stored in the house, under the beds and also in the garages, arranged by expiration date.

A furor erupted from other obviously-addicted consumers and after what seemed like an eternity (77 days), Coca Cola finally understood the popularity of the original Coke and reversed its plan. 

On ABC, TV Anchor Peter Jennings interrupted the soap opera General Hospital to announce the return of the original formula Coca Cola.

In 2014, I was ill and gave up drinking Coke for six months and lost a lot of weight.  I'd given up drinking Coke several other times in my life, but it was like the Mark Twain quote on giving up smoking: "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world; I know because I've done it thousands of times."   I do not drink as much Coke as I did in the past, but I recognize that it is still an addiction.

CLICK HERE to read the article:  COCA COLA'S BIG BLUNDER.

Monday, April 4, 2016


In a conversation with a young friend, I used the adage "familiarity breeds contempt";  I suppose I should feel complimented that he thought the words were mine but when I told him the quote was from Aesop, he said he'd never heard of the quote and did not understand it.  After a lengthy explanation and discussion, he said that he disagreed with the idea.  I said, "Apuleius countered with 'familiarity breeds contempt while rarity wins admiration', but I love Mark Twain's rejoinder 'familiarity breed contempt--and children'!"

At a recent gathering, I was standing with three young men.  We all were there as volunteers and we were waiting as we knew there was a meal to be served.

A young woman who had been instructing us about the volunteering tasks, asked the three of them, "Do you want something to eat?"  All of them said they did and she immediately brought plates of food to them.

I turned to the guys and asked, "Do you think she would serve me if I were a young, attractive man or would that come across as my being sarcastic?" One of them said, "You're so tiny she probably overlooked you!"   We all laughed and I stepped forward and asked her, "If I were a cute guy, would you offer me a plate?"

She said, "Oh, they are new here, I thought you would know to get something."

I told her that it was my FIRST time volunteering there, thus I wasn't aware of the protocol.  She said, "Oh, you look so familiar."  I must admit I was impressed with her quick recovery of excusing her behavior of her obvious unabashed preferential treatment of the young men while ignoring me.

I didn't tell her that she had seen me at a totally different kind of activity earlier in the week where I had formed a contemptuous opinion of her.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


This skit comes from the Benny Hill Show but Gerald tells it as if it's a true story about us:

Gerald and Sue were walking along the street window-shopping. They stopped in front of a dress shop and Sue said how she would love to have the dress in the window. Gerald opened his jacket, took out a brick, threw it through the window, grabbed the dress out of the window, and gave it to Sue.

They continued down the street and stopped in front of a jewelry store and Sue exclaimed, "Oh, look at that ruby necklace;  wouldn't that look lovely with my new dress?" Gerald opened up his jacket, took out another brick, threw it through the window, grabbed the necklace, and placed it around Sue's neck.

They continued down the street and stopped in front of a furrier. Sue sighed and asked, "Can't you just see me with my new dress and necklace wearing that mink?" Gerald took out another brick, threw it through the window, grabbed the mink, and draped it around Sue's shoulders.

They continued down the street, stopped in front of a Maserati dealership, and Sue asked, "Can't you picture me with my new dress, necklace, and mink riding in that Maserati?"

Gerald asked, "What do you think I am?  MADE OUT OF BRICKS?"

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Today in a discussion about growing up poor, a person said that they didn't have a "pot to piss in",  I said that my mother would add "Or a window to throw it out of!"

I was reminded of this article from my friend LARRY CHAPMAN:

A friend of mine, Lee Muller, posted the following on Facebook. It came from a site called Interesting Amazing Facts and I thought you might get a kick out of reading it.

They used to use urine to tan animal
skins, so families used to all pee in a
pot;  then once a day it was taken and
sold to the tannery.  if you had to
do this to survive you were “Piss
Poor”, but worse than that were the really
poor folk who couldn’t even afford to
buy a pot as they “didn’t have a pot to
piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your
hands and complain because the water
temperature isn’t just how you like it,
think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June
because they took their yearly bath in
May, and they still smelled pretty good
by June.  However, since they were
starting to smell, brides carried
a bouquet of flowers to hide the body
odor, hence the custom today of
carrying a bouquet when getting

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with
hot water. The man of the house had
the privilege of the nice clean water,
then all the other sons and men, then
the women and finally the children.
Last of all the babies. By then the
water was so dirty you could actually
lose someone in it., hence the saying,
“Don’t throw the baby out with the
bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs--thick
straw-piled high--with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for
animals to get warm, so all the cats
and other small animals (mice, bugs)
lived in the roof. When it rained it
became slippery and sometimes the
animals would slip and fall off the
roof, hence the saying “It’s raining
cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from
falling into the house. This posed a
real problem in the bedroom where
bugs and other droppings could mess
up your nice clean bed, hence, a bed
with big posts and a sheet hung over
the top afforded some protection.
That’s how canopy beds came into

The floors was dirt. Only the wealthy
had something other than dirt. Hence
the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy
had slate floors that would get
slippery in the winter when wet, so
they spread thresh (straw) on floor to
help keep their footing. As the winter
wore on, they added more thresh until,
when you opened the door, it would
all start slipping outside. A piece of
wood was placed in the entrance-way,
hence the term "a thresh hold".

In those old days, they cooked in the
kitchen with a big kettle which always
hung over the fire. Every day they lit
the fire and added things to the pot.
They ate mostly vegetables and did
not get much meat. They would eat
the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers
in the pot to get cold overnight and
then start over the next day.
Sometimes stew had food in it that
had been there for quite a while,
hence the rhyme: "Peas porridge hot,
peas porridge cold, peas porridge in
the pot nine days old". Sometimes they
could obtain pork, which made them
feel quite special. When visitors came
over, they would hang up their bacon
to show off. It was a sign of wealth
that a man could, “bring home the
bacon.” They would cut off a little to
share with guests and would all sit
around and "chew the fat".

Those with money had plates made of
pewter. Food with high acid content
caused some of the lead to leech onto
the food, causing lead poisoning
death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or
so, tomatoes were considered

Bread was divided according to status.
Workers got the burnt bottom of the
loaf, the family got the middle, and
guests got the top, or "the upper crust".

Lead cups were used to drink ale or
whiskey. The combination would
Sometimes knock the imbibers out for
a couple of days. Someone walking
along the road would take them for
dead and prepare them for burial..
They were laid out on the kitchen table
for a couple of days and the family
would gather around and eat and drink
and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of "holding a

England is old and small and the local
folks started running out of places to
bury people. So they would dig up
coffins and would take the bones to a
bone-house, and reuse the grave.
When reopening these coffins, 1 out of
25 coffins were found to have scratch
marks on the inside and they realized
they had been burying people alive,
so they would tie a string on the wrist
of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and
tie it to a bell. Someone would have to
sit out in the graveyard all night ("the
graveyard shift") to listen for the bell;
thus, someone could be, "saved by the
bell" or was considered "a dead ringer".

I haven’t a clue how much of this is true but it is interesting reading. Here’s one I read about years ago. At some time in Europe men made a living by wearing a huge cape and carrying a chamber pot. A gentleman would walk up, pay the man a few pence, be engulfed by the cape for privacy, and then relieve himself in the pot.  Mel Brooks played such a character, Le Garçon de Pisse or piss boy, in his film History of the World, Part 1.

Friday, April 1, 2016


From our friend Mona Lisa:

April Fool's Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. Those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year's (previously celebrated on April 1st) on the wrong date were teased as "April fools".

It has become tradition on the first of April to pull jokes of the harmless variety on those near and dear to us. We plot and we scheme, so beware of anyone on this day.

A few of the top pranks of the old days are:

1. The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were fooled. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

2. Sidd Finch

1985: Sports Illustrated published a story about a rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and reportedly, he could throw a baseball at 168 MPH with pinpoint accuracy. This was 65 MPH faster than the previous record. Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa." Mets fans celebrated the amazing luck of the team's having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. In reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the author of the article, George Plimpton.

3. The Taco Liberty Bell

1996: The Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

4. The Left-Handed Whopper

In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" especially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new Whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."