Category Archives: idioms

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


Until next week….have a great weekend…


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You Won’t Melt

On my way back to Florida, I picked up Hailey, my granddaughter, so she could keep me company during the trip. I told her once we arrived in Florida, I would take her to Universal Studios to the Harry Potter section (she is a HUGE fan of Harry Potter — I never realized how big until I saw her get teary-eyed over the robes and wands. Really!!!). She was all in for that trip and really could not wait as we travelled the road between Illinois and Florida.

As people may well know, the summer season in Florida is the rain season. You can bet that it will rain every day, sometimes for a little bit, sometimes a lot, but it will rain. Count on it. For the most part, we Floridians have a saying, “Wait five minutes” meaning it will rain for a bit and then the weather changes. It is what it is. It is rain. So, you can guess it rained while we visited Universal, which is fine because we were prepared with throw away rain ponchos for those rains that were more than five minutes.

During one of those rains it went from a nice sprinkle to a downpour. We ran for cover under a pavilion and we stayed there watching some people walk in the rain, dance in the rain, and play in the rain. And then it stopped raining and I stayed under the pavilion while Hailey rode a ride. While there, I struck up a conversation with the lady who stood beside me. I knew she was not from America because of her accent, and I found out she was from France, and she loved America because she said the people were so friendly. As we spoke about the two countries it began to rain again.

raingirlOnce again, people scrambled for cover.

I looked at the lady and said, “it’s just rain, we won’t melt”.

She gave me the funniest of looks, and then said, I don’t understand you. I knew then that I had uttered an idiom. Of course she wouldn’t understand, and then I told her it was an idiom.

Now, she did not know what an idiom was, so to the best of my knowledge I explained that it was an expression that we used, and that it meant that nothing would happen to us if we went out into the rain, it was just water.

She did understand what an expression was (learning curve for me — people do not understand that these expressions we have are called idioms — I need to rethink the tags for this blog).

I went on to tell her the expression probably came from the Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch of the West. She did not know anything about the Wizard of Oz. Once I got back home, I started researching where this expression originated. I found nothing except that it is what mother’s have told their children through time, “So, it’s raining? You’re not sugar — you won’t melt.”

Well, come to find out, sugar does melt. Put a little water with that sugar at it dissolves. Cook it on the stove and the sugar becomes a rich brown syrup. In the 1910 silent film of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz Dorothy throws a bucket of water over the Wicked Witch of the West and she melts, and finally, Isaac Asimov wrote a short fantasy story entitled Rain, Rain Go Away where the characters melted in the rain. Everything I found pointed to sugar melting, people melting in the rain, and yet, we as humans, know that we do not melt in the rain.

I found nothing, folks, about the history of this idiom/expression. In fact, I found the opposite — even Herman’s Hermits sang it in 1967 when they recorded Don’t Go Out into the Rain (You’re Going to Melt). So, the only conclusion I can come to is my momma told me so. She told me that I won’t melt in the rain. And I’m going to stick to that!

Until next time…have a good one…



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A Few Fries Short of a Happy Meal

I think I have said this before, but I have never heard this idiom before, so I really needed to investigate this one. Oh-ho, now I know what it means!

burger-and-fries-1371533338to1 (1)You know, McDonald’s serves the Happy Meal to the little tikes of the world. The small child will get a burger or nuggets or chicken sandwich with fries and usually apple juice or milk. Plus the toy, don’t forget the toy. And once again, this phrase has nothing to do with a Happy Meal, or any meal for that matter that serves a burger and fries.

So, what does this phrase mean? Shoot, it means the same as “a few cards short of a full deck”, “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”, and “the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top of the floor” to name a few. All are derogatory remarks pointing out someone’s shortcomings, specifically in the intelligence arena.

True, there are some people in this world who lack the basic information to form a sound decision, but there are times in an intelligent person’s life when those terms could be used. Think about it. A person is going through a highly stressed time, and they are “not quite all there”, or the person is sick, or the person is taking medicine that affects his thinking ability, or the person is preoccupied with a project. I know that I can become so preoccupied with a project that if I am interrupted, it takes me a minute or two to re-enter the physical world, and I may appear “not quite all there”.

So, when is it appropriate to use these derogatory remarks. Ah — Never. But I hear them frequently, and I am proposing that there are reasons for being “a few cards short of a happy meal” including not being given the basic information to make an informed decision.

I do enjoy writing this blog, and sometimes learning a new idiom and what it means. Today, though, I discovered something else about these miswords we use. Crossword answers. So, I am going to share answers with crossword lovers for “a few fries short of a happy meal” — insane, obtuse, dense, ditsy, and loopy when there is only one fry short of a happy meal. Insane means mentally deranged; obtuse means mentally slow; dense means thick, impenetrable; and ditsy is a scatterbrain/rattlebrain. Well, when you are loopy you are slightly crazy. Which, aren’t we all a bit?

And then there is the other synonym for this idiom — “if his brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow his nose” —

With that said, I will say good night for now ….


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Back to the Drawing Board

I thought you could use this idiom/expression when you started a project over. For instance, I have finished my first book, and it is out (“Echoes From the Heart-Nine Short Stories”/ and I am ready to start the next book, a novel this time. The first one went well and I started with the short stories to get my feet wet. But now I am going to jump right in and write 80,000 words for a novel, and I thought I could say I was going back to the drawing board. But that is the wrong term for me to use.

th60NQPBQ7What happens when you go back to the drawing board is that the project has failed, synonymous with “back to square one”. I would need to start my original book over from scratch because it has failed. But, I do not need to start over. I will start over in the sense of writing another book, start the process over, but with a new idea, new characters, new settings, new everything. It’s just the process that I will be starting over. A writer starts over every time one piece is complete and the next one starts. So it is with nearly everyone who creates.  Yet nothing has failed. So, I was wrong, I can not use “back to the drawing board.” Or let’s say, I shouldn’t use the term.

The expression/idiom did not even exist until a cartoonist, Peter Arno, had his cartoon with a caption that read “Well, back to the drawing board” printed in the New Yorker Magazine in 1941. The cartoon showed a designer leaving a crash scene with rolled up plans under his arm. It depicted both failure (the crash) and starting over.

I searched and searched to find if this idiom could be used in my sense of the phrase — to start again, but to no avail. It is not a new beginning because I have learned a lot from producing “Echoes From the Heart”. I definitely do not want to wipe the slate clean, although I have erased the titles of the short stories from my white board and the hard copies of the stories have been filed away; I reiterate, I learned a lot from producing the book. And I do not need to start from scratch even though I will be creating an entirely different scenario with different characters; I reiterate, I learned a lot from writing and self publishing the short stories.

So, what do I say. I guess it will be short and sweet. I am organizing and readying my life to do it again — and maybe it is wrong to say that I am going back to the drawing board, but for me, that is where I am headed. And, oh my, I have so many ideas floating around my head. I may have to concentrate on one, but then work on others so I do not lose the scenes that filter in and out of my mind.

Maybe I should say, I am excited, I am going to do it again. I am going to repeat my first action. I am, I am, I am…back to the drawing board????

Have a good one…

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There ya go

A very long time ago I had a boss who ALWAYS used the phrase, “there ya go”. I would ask her a question, and she would answer the question, but then would add, “there ya go.” I would tell her something, not a question but information, and without responding with an acceptance or a rejection, she would simply say, “there ya go.” I liked her as a boss and as a person; she knew her work and she let me work without much interruption, but I could never figure out her phrase. Usually, it just shut me up when I was telling her something, or I did not feel like there was much room for discussion when she answered a question when it was followed with “there ya go.”

And through the years, I have heard this phrase over and over; in fact, I heard it yesterday and again today, so, there ya go.

This phrase has more than one meaning or use. Yes, it is used to shut someone up. It is a polite way of saying, “I really don’t want to get into a long conversation with you about this subject.” Usually, the responder was like me a long time ago when I heard it, “what do I say back to there ya go?” So, I said nothing. What do you say? I always wondered if she just didn’t care enough about my work, or if she didn’t know what to say. I will never know.

Another use for the phrase is when something is done correctly, someone is doing something right. For instance, I have studied hard and long for my SATs, I took the workshop to prepare me for the big test, I am ready and I took the test. I walked out of the test, feeling optimistic and a person who knows how hard I studied responds with “there ya go” after I say I think I did pretty good with the test. It is now used as an affirmation that all that studying was something I did that was right.

Or, maybe you are doing something for someone, like straightening a guy’s tie before a huge interview, and after you have helped his appearance you say, “there ya go” meaning you look good, the appearance is right for the interview. All is well with your world.

Then you could use the phrase after someone has discovered that what you told them was just like you told them.

Or, you could use it as a filler, like ummmm…. It’s just with words, there ya go.

Or, you could use “there ya go” (but I would use the more formal “there you go”) when you are responding to someone’s expressing the fact that there are situations that one cannot change, so you might as well accept it. There are many of those situations today. True, we may all have opinions, and we may think we can change situations, but really, we can’t. And, there you go.

Finally, you use “there you go” after giving someone something they wanted. Then again, you could take off the “t” for this one and simply say “here you go”. And that’s the truth, the whole truth as I see it, so there ya go.

Have a great one…


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Fit as a Fiddle

Here, in the U.S. of A., everyone talks about being as fit as a fiddle. You know, have that trimmed, toned, muscled body that screams to us from ads and celebrities who attempt to shape the mind and muscles of the masses. The word “fit” is associated with that exact image — being healthy and toned.


In fact, body/personal trainer is now an occupation that you can learn at your nearest university.  Here, the famed celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson is watching the celebrity lunge to the perfect form.


jillian-michaels-cover-jumping_0Or take Jillian Michaels, who has inspired many with her exercise programs as well as her no nonsense approach to making the extemely overweight into a healthy weight on The Biggest Loser. 

These two personal trainers are two who have gained notoriety, but there are personal trainers everywhere today, waiting to take the masses to the next level of fitness so they can become fit as a fiddle.


Well, read on a bit, because I have a sneaky feeling that the masses are not that inspired to become this fit.

DougkershawSo, how in the world did fiddle get in this equation? Here you see Doug Kershaw play the fiddle at the 2009 Festivals et Creoles. The fiddle is in the same family as the violin where it has strings, pegs and a bridge that must be cleaned and taken care of.

So, if a fiddle/violin must be well cared for, so must our body. We must clean it and care for it by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Some sort of exercise  is better than becoming a couch potato where the muscles atrophy and eventually become useless.

Let’s back up a bit. “Fit” is associated with having a healthy, toned body, but that was not always the go-to definition of the word. Prior to this popular definition, “fit” meant to have a standard of purpose — such as “that meat is fit to eat”. Our ever-changing words push some definitions to the back while the other definition forges to the limelight and we forget the other meanings for words. Consider, do you think the people in the 1800s would consider “fit” as meaning healthy? I think not. Now, we have products with “fit” in it — think of the fitbit, fit tea wraps, or Rosetta Stone Fit Brains. Fit is all around us today, giving us the message that we have to be fit, fit as a fiddle, take care of our body by having a healthy, toned body.

But, really!?! Two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese. 2/3. That is two out of every three people in America are not fit as a fiddle. Not even close. I have my own thoughts on how this came about (thank you fast food industry) because I know most people try to do some form of exercise, whether it is walking or gardening or cleaning a house. As for being as fit as a fiddle according to the health gurus of America, no, I do not think that the average person, the masses, has any desire to be that fit because we know we can not maintain that without exercising for 4 hours per day and who has that kind of time? I will take that a step further and say, who wants to exercise for 4 hours a day every day, every week, every year? I think not.

What we do want is to eat a semi healthy diet (the word “semi”  leaves room for desserts!), do some sort of physical exertion every day for maybe a half hour, and always struggle to lose that last 10 or 20 pounds. We’d be happy with that. And I believe the majority of us would feel that we would then be as fit as fiddle!

Until Friday… be healthy….








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A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

Just try to figure out what this means! I have heard this idiom/phrase my entire life and I have yet to make sense of it. Really???

birdWhen I look at the words, I see “a bird in the hand”  and then I look at the second part of the sentence, worth two (birds) in the bush — whatever that means. Two birds on a limb?



So, exactly, what do all these birds mean, and where in the world did the saying come from?

Actually, this saying is cautionary to not count your chickens before they’re hatched (will go into that idiom another day) or simply that it’s better to be content with what you have instead of taking a risk on getting more.

Ah, now I know why that is so hard for me to understand. I am not content with what I have been given in life, never have been,  and I constantly seek to improve what I have (whether it be knowledge or creativity, and of course money, but it’s not about the money, as anyone who is a risk taker will tell you, it’s about the wanting of change). The risk of change, of not knowing what is on the other side and still treading toward it. Not being content with what I have.

So, I wondered where this saying came from, and I found many references to its origin — one was from the 6th century BC (Assyrian) proverbs of Ahigar which referenced the Biblical Book of Proverbs to more recent John Ray’s (Wray) 1670 collection of proverbs in his Handbook of Proverbs.

You need to understand who John Ray was. He was an English naturalist known as a parson-naturalist. This was a person who was country priest who lived in the parish and studied natural sciences as an extension of his religious work. Parson-naturalists gave insights into philosophy and theology as they studied the natural world. Now, I understand how this saying came into being. It is best to control the masses when they are compliant, and how best to be compliant is when you are content with what you have been given and not to look for bettering your life.

Then came Darwin, who originally was studying to be a parson-naturalist when he went aboard the Beagle and changed on how he viewed life. With that voyage he went from being compliant to thinking totally different and changing the world with his theory of Evolution (which we are still debating to this day!)

So, let’s go back to John Ray and being a country priest — mind you, he compiled the book of proverbs, did not write them. I wanted to understand more, not be compliant with this explanation, so I looked at the Biblical Book of Proverbs. Solomon, King of Israel. Ecclesiastes 6:9.

According to Ecclesiates is saying that it is better to have little and enjoy what you have than to dream about much and never attain it. But isn’t that what the American way is? To not be content with what we have. To strive to work hard and to attain. continues with the explanation by saying that dreaming is not wrong, it’s simply the motivation behind it. It should be for the glory of God and not for the man or himself. Okay, I get that. When a person puts God before himself or a person who is hungry or hurt or without shelter before himself there is a satisfaction that can not be measured, and the funny thing about this is that when I do put God or another before me, goodness comes back to me. I don’t ask for it, it just does. Maybe a smile, maybe a penny from heaven, maybe a kind word. But it is returned.

Then, I found and it stated the Living Bible as explaining the proverb/idiom as meaning “mere dreaming of nice things is foolish; it’s chasing the wind.”

Ah. Now I really get it. Those birds that are in the hand and in the bush have to do with dreaming, but not the foolish kind. If you are going to dream, have a plan and go for it. Otherwise, be content with what you have. If you don’t have a plan, you are simply chasing the wind. Which gets you nowhere. Dream big. Plan bigger. Do. And do again until it is reality. And if you are not up to that, then simply be happy with what you have. And that’s okay, too.

And I finally understand this proverb/idiom. And I still don’t like it.

Until Friday … have a great week.





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