Category Archives: American words

Red-letter Day

It was Monday, August 21, 2017, wasn’t it? A special day.  A very special day. A day when people gathered from far and wide to watch a spectacular event the heavens gave to us. The eclipse.

eclipseWhat was amazing was for those couple of minutes (2 minutes, so many seconds) everyone’s attention was focused on the sun and moon playing a dance of light and darkness. I watched the entire totality from my living room. That’s right, I saw it in Oregon — absolutely breathtaking — to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Kansas and Carbondale, Illinois, to Georgia and South Carolina. And you know what? I never heard one bit of bitter emotion. People were cheering when the moon covered the sun and the backdrop was covered with blues and oranges and reds. People stood together and cheered! We as a people were together for the first time in what seems like a long time, and that simple gift from the heavens gave me hope that maybe we can get along.

Last night, Harvey the Hurricane slammed into Texas’ coastline. A horrific occurrence that means destruction and despair to many as it makes its way from the coast and pours its rain into the interior of Texas. And I am not making light of this natural disaster, but once again people will gather together to help one another. We as humans seem to come together when there are natural occurrences, whether good or bad. We are there for each other. Or, at the very least, I hope.

But it was the eclipse that was the red-letter day, the day that was memorable, pleasantly memorable. We travelled, stood together, stood in awe to one natural event. That is how those words originated. Way back churches would circle calendar days with red marks for church holy days and festivities. Then, in 1549 it was proven in print when The Book of Common Prayer included a calendar with the holy days marked in red ink. Once again, that is when people gathered to be one, to get along for a period of time.

And that brings me to today. I have a Samsung smart phone, and if I look at my calendar, the holidays are highlighted in red. They also are red-letter days, just like the days of old. Days to remember, days to get together with your favorite people, days to get along as humans.

Yes, we have some days that we want to not have happened like Hurricane Harvey, but those red-letter days — well, those days make me smile, and give me faith in the human race, so I give the eclipse a big, fat

a-plus-school-letter-grade

Until next week….have a great weekend…

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Hunky-dory

It’s another one of those words. A funny sounding word that really doesn’t give us a clue on the meaning of the word — hunky — what is a hunky?  Actually, the dictionary defines “hunky” as “a large, strong, and sexually attractive male”. Hey, I’m a red-blooded American girl and I know what that is, but I thought they were called “Hunks”.  Should I go around from now on saying, “Well, he’s such a hunky.” Then, there is “dory” — what in the world does dory mean? According to the dictionary, it is a flat bottomed boat with flaring sides, or a narrow fish with a mouth that can be opened very wide. So, hunky-dory could mean a large, strong and sexually attractive male that is a fish which has a mouth that opens wide. Maybe there is a fish that fits this description but the word just doesn’t make sense, does it?

It’s so simple — hunky-dory means everything’s fine, okay.

So, how did we get from a large, strong and sexually attractive male that is a fish with a mouth that opens wide to everything is just fine?

I did a bit of research on this and I found two origins, so I will start with the earliest — 1853. That is when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into Japan, which eventually led to ending 250 years of isolation of Japan from the West. Commodore_Perry's_second_fleetNow, the sailors, those hunks, really needed some r&r so they went into what would become known as Tokyo for some entertainment. The streets were a maze, but once they found the main street, Honcho Dori, they knew it would take them to the port and everything would be fine. (The image at the left is Perry’s fleet for his second visit to Japan in 1854, courtesy of Wikipedia.org, drawn around 1854, soPD).

That’s the first reference to this funny word. Now, give it a few years and you start hearing hunky-dory on the streets, and then it is in a song, Essence of Old Kentucky by George Christy and the Christy Minstrels sing “…with your smiling faces around, ’tis then I’m hunky dorey”. The year is 1862.

The quirky word stuck, and in 1971, there was a musician named David Bowie who was getting his feet wet in the music industry. That was when he recorded the Hunky Dory album, an album that was a catalyst to a career that spanned his life until his death in 2016. Also, the Hunky Dory album was the first time we heard his Changes, you remember — “Oh yeah…Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for And my time was runnin’ wild…ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes.” It still runs through my head. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes….

And that is how those changes evolved with hunky dory — and for me, there is nothing finer than window shopping for a hunk. That is hunky dory to me…

Have a great one…

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