Monthly Archives: November 2016

I Hit the Road Again

Sorry that I did not post anything last week. I hit the road, took off, saw another part of the country, ate some turkey, lived out of a suitcase.

I have been gone for two weeks, first going to San Diego, then to Illinois to make some pies and eat some turkey. I have never been to San Diego, and it is awesome. If you ever get the chance, go.

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That first week, while I was in San Diego, I was able to post my blogs. True, I was living out of a suitcase because I was on the “go” all the time, but I still had some “me” time to collect my daily thoughts.

What was fun about the trip was I contacted a guy I went to college with who has been living in San Diego for about the past 40 years, and he offered to be my tour guide. I took him up on the offer. We never would have picked each other out of a crowd, but because of Facebook and occasional phone calls through the years, we simply started our conversations without a hiccup.

For seven days, he picked me up at my hotel at 10 a.m. and showed me the sights. And what a tour I received. Before I went he wanted to know what I wanted to see and I gave him a list. We saw it all and then some.

I think one of the highlights was the harbor cruise of San Diego (picture shown above), but there are three othe20161118_101358-1rs that made a lasting impression on me. One was the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, then there was the Hotel del Coronado where we toured and then went back and had a Sunday brunch in its wooden domed Crown Room. This hotel has so much history, and it is so gorgeous. During the first round, we stopped and absorbed the beauty over a cup of coffee, and of course, shopped. The second round was the brunch.

The final highlight of the trip was seeing LaJolla Cove where the Sea Lions and Seals sunbathe. But it was more than that. It was the Pacific Ocean making the waves slap the rocks that made it a perfect post card.

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There were so many pictures that it was hard to select one, but this is the one because of the colors. This is what it really looks like. A totally different scene from the sandy beaches of Florida. True, I saw sandy beaches where surfers were catching the waves, but it was simply different from here in Florida.

I really tried not to be a backseat driver, you know, the one who has to tell the driver how to drive, but he was forewarned — I am used to being in the driver’s seat, so when I became familiar with the roads, it was “turn here”. He didn’t seem to mind, though, because he said that he is always getting lost. Maybe that is one time when it is okay to be the “backseat driver”!

I tried to travel light, not pack so much, and I did okay, and also realized I could travel lighter. One checked suitcase is going to be reduced to one carry-on. I have promised myself. Last year when I went to Barcelona before boarding the transatlantic cruise, I met an older couple who had been traveling for six months, and the husband traveled with only two pair of slacks and three shirts — all identical. Will I ever travel that light? I don’t know, but I have a hunch I can get close to that. This time it was four pair of slacks and eight tops for me. I know I could get rid of at least one of those slacks, and there were two or three tops that I basically could have done without. So, yes, my challenge is on. My goal is to be able to “get up and go” at a moment’s notice.

It was the last week that I did not post my blogs. Too much wine, too much family, too many laughs, too much food and cooking and baking, too good of a time. I took the week off from my writing, my creative endeavors, my research to simply enjoy. And I did. For two weeks. Two totally different weeks. One as a tourist looking at new sights, and one with family and friends. Life can’t get any better!

Until Friday…

 

 

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An Albatross Around the Neck

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This picture was taken by JJ Harrison (JJHarrison89@facebook.com) and obtained through commons.wikimedia.org

An albatross is a large-winged web-footed bird noted for gliding over the waters.

Originally, the word is derived from the Spanish and Portugese word “alcatraz” and it means pelican.

If I have an albatross around my neck, I certainly do not carry this large bird around my neck. So, what does it mean? Figuratively, albatross means something that hinders or handicaps your ability to do something. When I carry an albatross around my neck it means that I wear something that will stop me from succeeding at my endeavor. No. Not really because once again the neck is used figuratively. We carry nothing around our neck, but we do carry burdens that are hard to get rid of.

Think of debt, maybe the student loan. It is huge and there is no end in sight of when it will be paid off. It is an albatross around my neck.How in the world can I buy a new car or a house with that much debt? Or being in a bad relationship with no signs of it getting better is an albatross around my neck. The relationship continues to cause problems. It’s an albatross — something that almost seems like a curse to deal with. Will it ever go away?

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Photo taken by D Ramey Logan and obtained through commons.wikimedia.org

What I think is interesting about the origin of this word is “alcatraz.” Off San Francisco’s coast in California there stands a large prison on a rock that is named alcatraz. Although it was only a prison for 30 years, it is widely known because of its remoteness of being surrounded by water (and I have heard shark infested waters) where the most troublesome prisoners were taken to spend their days. It is said that no one escaped from this island prison. The word definitely fits the description of being such a burden that it is considered a curse.

This is one of those idioms that is not commonly used, but upon occasion, I do hear the phrase. But, no, there are no birds around anyone’s neck. As with some of our idioms, it is very hard to figure out what is really meant, so when you hear about the albatross, it means bearing a burden where there is little hope of having it resolved soon.

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Having Second Thoughts

There are times in life when we decide to do something and after thinking about the decision long and hard, or talking to someone else about the decision made, or researching the idea more, we may have second thoughts on our decision. If we have not signed on the dotted line (made a firm commitment to our decision), we may be able to change it. If the firm commitment is made, then we will need to live with the results.

Many years ago I had to make a decision that would impact my life and many people around me. It was a very difficult decision, and I vacillated on the decision for many weeks. I knew I could not discuss the decision with anyone because whoever I talked with would sway my decision according to what they wanted the outcome to be. So, I did research (and this was before the handy internet). I read and read, read books, and read magazine articles. I had to be sure of all the second thoughts I was having about the decision I had to make. After all the research, my second thoughts about my decision was settled. I made a decision based strictly on facts, and I never had another second thought about my decision.

The run away bride or groom had second thoughts while getting ready for the marriage.

When l first made this most recent major move from one part of our country to another, I had many second thoughts (basically, I thought I was crazy to go through everything just to be in a warmer climate all year). And I could have changed my thoughts, I could have packed up and went back to where I came from. But I did not, and as I finally unpacked the last boxes, bought the furniture, and enjoyed the daily sunshine my second thoughts left me.

The first year college student who really does not want to go to college will quit after having second thoughts.

Don’t confuse “having second thoughts” with “on second thought.” On second thought is nearly instantaneous. It is not toying with an idea because here you consider the idea but not seriously — you’re toying around. But, on second thought you have said something — like, “Let’s go to the amusement park?” Then, almost immediately you realize you don’t want to spend the day there because you really want to go to the zoo, so you say, “On second thought, let’s go to the zoo.”

All in all, when you have second thoughts, there are many considerations you have given to your decision. When you say “on second thought” you are basically saying what is going on in your head at that time and just thinking out loud where your decisions may change in an instant.

Me — well, on second thought, maybe I should be having second thoughts about all this!

Hey, have a great day…

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If the Shoe Fits, Wear It

Oh, ho. I really don’t want anyone to say this to me. It is a derogatory remark that is meant to tell me I better ‘fess up to a shortcoming. Let’s say my math skills should be improved, but I think all is good, and maybe I am even bragging a bit about how good my math skills are. Then, someone, calls me on my bluff, and when I can’t produce, that person tells me to admit it, I don’t really understand the math problem — if the shoe fits, wear it.

Or maybe, I make an excuse to my personal trainer why I am always late, but my personal trainer knows better, he knows that I am less than motivated. I need to admit it as he tells me, “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

But, where in the world did this term come from?

jester01_recadreWay back, 1593 or so, the expression started as “if the cap fits” wear it, which referred to a fool’s cap. And you know how the fool was referred to in history. A jokester, a person who likes to tell jokes. The jester in a king’s court. (image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)

Looking up words and their origins, cap also is derived from cloak, which then became cape, which then became cap. Ah. But that was before the derogatory meaning. It meant simply if the cloak (cape) fits, wear it. Then came the fool, the fool’s cap, and then the dunce cap, which is definitely derogatory.

Then, came Cinderella.

The story of Cinderella starts years and years ago. Originally, Cinderella was titled Cenerentola and it was an Italian folk tale which was published in 1634 by Giambattiste Basile in the collection II Pentamerone. 

The tale was introduced to Europe and America in 1773, and the “if the cap fits” was changed to “if the shoe fits”

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Introduce Walt Disney and his wonderful imagination, and now  Cenerentola is widely known as Cinderella and the prince scours the region for the woman who fits into the shoe.

It is a good tale with a happy ending.

So, back to “if the shoe fits, wear it” — it is simply saying, if the shoe fits, admit it. Own up to it. It is my shoe, it is my characteristic and I just might as well admit it. “It is my shoe, and I will wear it.”

Until next week…

 

 

 

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It’s an Ace in the Hole

Don’t we all wish we had one all the time. That “ace in the hole.” You know, that secret you keep until there is the right opportunity to use it. Then walla, you win. It was the ace in the hole that made the win.

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It gives you the leading edge to get ahead at school, at work, at life.

Courtroom dramas use it all the time. It’s the witness the prosecutor has been hiding until the right time to produce the person. It’s a key piece of evidence that has been produced at the right time, not at the time when evidence is revealed, but after the fact — it’s the ace in the hole.

Sports teams use it when they keep a key player back until the right time. The coach is counting on the ace in the hole — for the win.

Sure, you could say he played his “trump card,” it’s the same meaning, but with a bit of difference. Usually, when you play a trump card, it is a one time play. Afterwards, if you try to play the trump card again, people are onto it, and you could simply overplay your hand.

Then there is the “secret weapon.” Again, it means the same, only this time the idiom/ phrase is used in business or politics. There is a competitor here. Slight difference, means the same but where and when it is used is the key.

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Best of all is “up one’s sleeve.” This is virtually the same as “ace in the hole” — you keep your secret until the end to reveal information, a plan, a strategy to help you win at school, at work, at life.

It’s fun to see where these terms come from. Long ago, back in the 16th century, people had dresses, pants, etc., but they did not have pockets, so they kept “things” up their sleeve. Shoot for that matter, I can remember my grandmother keeping “things” up her sleeve. I had a boss that kept a myriad of “things” in her bra. People keep money in their shoes or socks or around their waist in a belt when they travel. The list continues as we try to hide the good stuff “up our sleeve” to only pull it out when it is to our advantage.

The “ace in the hole” has to do with playing cards, specifically stud poker. What happens is one or more cards are turned down, or what is termed “in the hole,” and then bets are placed on what cards may be “in the hole.” When you have the ace “in the hole” you have the card with the highest value. You win.

Until Friday…have a great week.

 

 

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Cubs Win — Cockles of Heart Warmed

 

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Chicago Cubs Win World Series

What can I say? After 108 years, before the strike of midnight in Chicago, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in Cleveland, Ohio. They won, and Chicago is in elated bliss. I wish I could show you all the pictures, the celebrations, the parade with the people — the 5 million strong people — who have come together to celebrate this long sought title.

For a few short days, there are no grim faces. Instead, as one of my FB friends said, it “warms the cockles of my heart” to see all the people together, one stand, strong and proud as they high-five the police who watch over the crowd, smiles on their face, and cheers for the team that made this event possible. There is no sign of violence and the 5 million are one in force. Together we stand. Together the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the many faithful Cubs fans across our great nation  see nothing but glory today.

Tomorrow the news will turn back to the tumultuous election that is taking place in our country, tomorrow the news will turn back to the Native American effort to stop the pipeline that wants to go across their sacred ground, tomorrow the news will turn back to the shootings in Chicago and elsewhere as the black and blue collide, tomorrow the news will once again turn sour.

But today is a different day. It is our hope. It is who we are. It is a mere 5 million who stand together.

And those who look from afar, the scenes will “warm the cockles of your heart”. What are cockles?  Actually, cockle is from the Latin word “cochlea” (which means snail) and cockles refer to the ventricles of the heart. Why cockles? Because that is what the ventricles’ shape reminds one of. And we know that when we speak of something coming from the heart, it gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling, a good feeling. So, when we say “it warms the cockles of my heart”, we are really saying it makes me feel really good, warm and happy for something to be seen or experienced.

I will take it a step further. Watching the news clips, the videos, the celebrations, the tears of joy, the warmed cockles of my heart restores my faith in humanity. When needed, and in this case a very good event happened, people do come together putting aside their differences and forge ahead as one.

Thank you Cubs, you are exactly what we needed right now.

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To show the Cubs, just press the link.

Have a great weekend. Next week, I am sure I will be off my Cubs high — but for right now. They won. After 108 years, they won.

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Call a Spade a Spade

I hesitated to write about this figurative expression/idiom, but decided to as people who are not familiar with the English language and phrases/idioms we use in this country may come across this expression and use it, not knowing it has a dual meaning where one is understood in a derogatory sense. I feel it should be addressed and understood.

Originally, this phrase was translated from the 1st Century writing of the Greek scholar Plutarch titled Moralia, which loosely translates as Morals or Manners. (Keep this in mind as I explain.) Moralia was first translated from Greek around 1542, and the Stephanus edition came out in 1572 where the essays were divided into 14 books. Just to name a few of the essays: On the Education of Children, On Vice and Virtue, On Brotherly Love, and On Evil and Hate. There is a total of 78 essays of this sort.

When the translation took place, the translator, Nicolas Udall, replaced the original “trough” and “fig” with “spade”. Ah, how and why words change through the years continues!

shovel-clip-art-26429From then — 16th century — to the 1920s, the phrase “call a spade a spade” meant to speak frankly, tell it like it is.

This is the only meaning I knew of the idiom. I never knew it could have a sinister meaning until I started investigating this idiom. My family is not in the business of using derogatory remarks nor hurting people, so the use of this phrase in a derogatory sense was never taught to me.

And I have used the term for years when I knew someone who was blunt in explanation, who pulled no punches in speaking the truth, who said things as they really are. I like those people. There are no guessing about what that person means while telling what they like or dislike. My parents had one neighbor who spoke this way, and I always characterized her by saying she called a spade a spade. I knew exactly what she meant.

Now, fast forward to the 1920s, to the Harlem Renaissance, and now “spade” became a code word for the black person. It first appeared in Claude McKay’s 1928 novel, Home to Harlem. Okay, McKay now has expanded the shovel/spade to refer to a skin color. And in so doing, the word “spade” became offensive, which in turn is the phrase, “call a spade a spade”.

I am not in the business of hurting anyone’s feelings, so anyone who is trying to learn our language with all its idioms and double meanings, I strongly suggest to scratch this idiom off your list. Do not use. Me. I know I will double check my writing to not have this idiom included in my writing unless if it is doubly clear that it refers to someone speaking frankly, telling it like it is. And that is easier to do on paper than with oral words.

Now, back to Plutarch’s Moralia. I believe I have Plutarch in my library and I need to read what he said all those years ago. Isn’t it ironic that in the beginning he wrote about Brotherly Love and On Evil and Hate, and somehow through his words and through the years the trough, shovel has evolved into a derogatory phrase that covers (or not) Brotherly Love, Evil and Hate?

A lot to chew on…

 

 

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