Category Archives: phrases

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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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, 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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Buckle Up Buttercup

Are you ready for the ride of your life? If so, “Buckle up Buttercup” because I’m taking you for a ride you won’t forget. Now, the ride may not have anything to do with a car or the car buckles — they may be involved —  but when we buckle up Buttercup,  it will be the ride of your life — you know, going together on a journey that will be memorable. Sometimes, as life changes with me, I say those words to myself because I have no clue what is going to happen, knowing I am embarking on a journey I have never traveled before. So hang on, it’s going to be a ride that is sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth, but definitely a ride, Buttercup.

buttercup-841225_1920 (1)But why Buttercup? I searched the web as far as I could go, and I never found why Buttercup was the name of choice, but it is used as a term of endearment.

Funny that this flower/weed is used in the context as a term of endearment because the inedible plant can be toxic to dogs and cats, can lead to serious problems for grazing animals, such as cattle and horses, sheep and pigs; and for humans, well, let’s just say that the plant tastes so bad that there is little chance of being poisoned.

Buttercup is also said with the saying, Pucker up Buttercup and Suck it up Buttercup. I tell ya, Buttercup gets around. And I sure would like to know how the buckle up, pucker up and suck it up all names Buttercup!

Take Pucker up Buttercup — you may remember this line in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ed Rooney said to Grace, Pucker up Buttercup. Well, I don’t think Grace appreciated the innuendo, but he did say pucker up — wanna kiss? Buttercup, put those lips together and get ready for a big smacker.

In my book, buckle up and pucker up is better than suck it up. Don’t you just hate it when you meet that whiner? During World War I there was Captain Williams, company commander of the 5th Marines, who was at a battle in France when someone asked him to retreat. His response, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here! Suck it up Buttercup.” Sadly to say, he never made it through the battle, but his words have lived on. Keep going and stop your whining. Words to live by.

All in all, I may buckle up Buttercup, may even pucker up a few times, and know suck it up more than not during the course of this lifetime, but oh! what a ride!!! Don’t you just love life and what it brings? As I said, what a ride…

Until next week…have a great 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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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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