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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Monday’s Child

Yesterday, I started going through pictures and I came upon this in my mother’s handwriting:

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child if full of woe

Thursday’s child has far to go

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child has to work hard for its living

But the child that’s born on the Sabbath day is fair and wise and good and gay.

crowd-of-kidsI was born on a Tuesday, so does that mean I am full of grace. And actually, what does full of grace mean?

I looked up the meaning of the word “grace” and it means many things, one of which I will not even attempt to explain. and that is the division of what the Catholics and Protestants believe in when referring to “full of grace”. I will leave that to the theologians.

Looking further into “grace”, it comes from both Greek and Latin — with a translation of charisma or favor. From that I could assume that full of grace is full of charisma, which is one of the definitions — effortless beauty or charm; then I looked at full of grace as full of favor, which is another definition as having a disposition to kindness or compassion. Either way, what a compliment! I either have effortless beauty and charm or I am just a kind person. I will take all, thank you…

Where and when in the world did this child’s nursery rhyme begin. The first recorded history of this rhyme is in 1838 when A.E. Bray published it in Traditions of Devonshire. So, it is English. Devonshire is in England. Researching further, I found that this little nursery rhyme was really a superstition that dates back as far as 1570 in Suffolk, England. The people then believed what day of the week you were born determined your fate (or luck) in life. Pity Wednesday or Saturday’s child!

This nursery rhyme continues to be used through the ages. Many, many television serial titles have one of these days in it, such as Wednesday’s child as being the title of that episode. Must be one of the crime dramas; remember, Wednesday’s child is full of woe. Then, there is the Beatles song, Lady Madonna, where the line reads, “Monday’s child has learned to tie his bootlace.”

So, I just had to find out what is the most common day of the week to be born, and the winner in Tuesday….Sunday is the least common. Weekends are becoming more and more least common since the rise of C-sections, when the parent(s) can determine when to have the child.

Interested in finding out what day of the week you were born? Just ask the search engine (what day of the week was Month, Day, Year of birth) and you will find out if you do not know. Something fun to find out….

Have a good one…

 

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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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Bottleneck

traffic-843309_1920Yes, I know you know it. Everyone who drives knows it. The eternal hurry up to wait in the car for the traffic to flow scene. Every time I am on the road, driving a long distance, it seems that this is my life.

At Christmastime when I travel north to South Carolina it’s not that bad going to the northern state, but on the way coming south — oh, I know there will be a bottleneck not once, not twice, but three times. There is the heavy traffic, then there is the stopped traffic, the bottleneck, the let’s go a mile an hour traffic, the traffic where you wonder what is the delay to only find nothing once the traffic starts to flow. No sign as to what the problem was, simply going so far as a snail, and then the road clears and walla! everyone is breaking their backs to get on track, to get that pedal to the metal.

I never expected this scenario this summer when I traveled to Illinois. Okay, I fib a little. I know it is going to be congested in Florida on the interstates, which is really an understatement, and I expected it around Atlanta, but I never expected what I saw and went through past Atlanta. The picture above is an indication of what I experienced from Atlanta to well into Illinois on the major interstates. It was an endless, never give me a break, always one car behind another, kind of road trip. Of course, there is that fool who thinks he is going to get a car ahead, trying to pass everyone to find out that is exactly what he is — a car ahead. Go for it if you are in that big of a hurry, I have my eye out for you.

bottleneck-487691_1920Makes me want to drink. A nice bottle of wine.

Then there is the other bottleneck — that part of the bottle where the wine flows through a channel before it reaches the wine glass. Did you ever wonder why the bottle was shaped that way? It all has to do with when and how the first bottles were made. In the beginning of the glass wine bottle, that glass was blown by a glass blower, and knowing a bit or two about glass, it would seem to reason that a piece of glass would have a “neck” if there were going to be fluids kept inside. (As a sidebar, according to Theoxfordwineblog,wordpress.com the reason the bottle is basically 750mL is roughly the average exhalation volume of the human lungs — Jeopardy, anyone?!). Anyway, where I grab that bottle of wine is called the bottleneck, nothing like the congested traffic, but still the same word, completely different meaning.

Double_Slide_GuitarThen, there is the music form of bottleneck. This is when a guitarist plays the slide guitar. The musician has a tube type of slide (the bottleneck) on his fingers. This photo taken by Carol Cain, wife of Brian Cober, a Canadian slide guitarist, shows the device referred to as a bottleneck. It is used to get a different sound effect on the guitar. If you want to hear the difference, you can listen to many rock guitarists, such as the Allman Brothers Band, Led Zepplin, and ZZ Top to name a few. Also, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones played the slide guitar during most of Let It Bleed. I have expanded my music listening through the years, but still rock ‘n roll is my favorite and I can hear that slide at any time. I am sure you can listen to Keith Richards play it on a YouTube video, if you are so inclined.

Bottleneck — one word, three totally different ways we Americans use one 10 letter word.

For me, I am out of the traffic, the bottleneck, but I think I will go grab that half empty bottleneck of wine out of the frig and put on some Rolling Stones (yes, I still have the vinyls!) and listen to that guitarist play a little bottleneck…

Until next time…have a great one…

 

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Faux and its pronunciation

The other day I was having a phone conversation about having faux bricks on my living room wall, and mispronounced “faux”, phonetically pronouncing it with the au and x. I was corrected with — it is pronounced foo (where you here the f and the long oo), and I will admit, I do mispronounce words. I was taught phonics in school and I continue to go by the rules. So, I got to thinking about the word. Faux is French, a shortened version of faux pas, which is pronounced foo pass, in the American language, and the original meaning is a misstep in ballet.

Today, faux pas is shortened to faux and means fake or imitation. The one-word faux hasn’t been around that long in the American language but faux with other words have been around the English language since the 1600s. The single word — faux — originates from the 1980s, so I am cleared of that blunder, or what is the equivalent of today’s French meaning of faux pas as being a social blunder.

I also learned something about that -aux pronunciation. Or so I think I have learned. Of course, I am sure there are exceptions to what I think I know or have learned.  I looked at words that started with aux-, such as auxiliary or auxotroph, and then the -aux is pronounced how I would phonetically pronounce it — as au and the x — auxiliary.

Now, put the -aux behind a letter or letters, and the aux is pronounced as the long oo — faux, beaux (that’s plural for beau and both are pronounced the same — as boo — long oo –, to which is not to be confused with boo!, the ew you hear when you want to scare someone — boo!), or maybe there is a little Bordeaux with dinner tonight. Bordeaux, that southwestern French region that produces the wonderful wine with its same name, and the aux is pronounced with that long oo.

Confused yet?

While I am on this subject, let’s back up to auxotroph — finally, the -aux is pronounced phonetically,  au and x. So, continue with the word and the troph is pronounced traf. That famouns ph pronounced as f.

There is phone, phooey, and phew! (all ph es pronounced as an f). Some people think that phew also means that unpleasant odor. Nope. That is spelled pew and you hear the p with ew, rhymes with few, where the word can mean a long bench in church as well as an unpleasant odor — but then, we Americans just might say p u (pee- ew — stinky) but if you put a forward slash between the p and u p/u  simply means to pick up.

What do I say about all this — only one word comes to mind — Phew! this is a relief. Or — is it Whew!!! Oh, nevermind. Our words have so many different meanings, our words are pronounced different ways, and now someone has told me about Spanglish and Franglish. It’s never ending…. I am sure I will be corrected my entire life….

Until next time…have a great day…

 

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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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Ready to Roll

Yes, I have been gone from here for quite a while. That was not my intention, but it just worked out that way. The beginning of June I left the area to go north, to my hometown, to promote my first book, “Echoes From the Heart: Nine Short Stories” by me, Mary Bulliner. First, I am extremely proud of myself for accomplishing a dream come true, then I am extremely pleased that so many family and friends came out to share in my celebration of creating these stories. I thank each and every one from the bottom of my soul. All in all, the trip was a huge success.

I thought I could work ahead to write blogs and post later. It did not work out that way. Yes, I did a couple of blogs and scheduled postings, and I thought I would be able to write while I was on the road. I found out that I am not that disciplined. After putting in a day of driving, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and write. Then, I thought I would simply go to the library in town and write a few posts. That did not work out that way, either. I was too busy seeing everyone and being social and getting ready for the book signings and seeing how the town has changed and eating at the new restaurants and…you get it, anything and everything but writing my posts. So, my presence here has been absent, but my blog has constantly been on my mind, me listening to people and hearing and taking note of all the idioms we use in our everyday language.

And we use a lot — I mean, a lot, of idioms. In fact, our talk is based on those expressions we so love to use. No wonder our language is so hard for people of other lands to learn.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNow, I am back. I am ready to roll.

No, I am not ready to roll any logs, or roll out the carpet, or even be on a roll (that will be seen with time). But I am ready to roll. I am ready to start the next journey in my life, and that is continue with the blog, complete my author page, and write a new book — this time a novel, not short stories.

I wrote the short stories because I wanted to find out what my audience likes to read, and, well, I just like writing short stories. What I found out about my audience — you — helped me understand where I am going with my writing. Today’s reader likes to get into the stories, so they need to be full size books — that’s about 80,000 words, folks. (That was proven by John Doe #23 being everyone’s favorite and that short story was over 12,000 words). Then, on top of that, readers like series, they like stories that continue one after another.

So, that is what is coming. I knew it was coming before I knew what the audience wanted, but I wanted to know for sure.

The next book, the first in a series, will have the main character and her brother live in Florida; and she will have a sister who lives in Illinois. This coming Sunday I am going to take a drive over in the St. Petersburg’s area for possible scene settings. This will be fun to write. In my head, I am becoming familiar with my characters. They are growing on me as I give them life, and eventually, I will introduce you to them. I may even travel somewhere else in the book. Vacations are great, maybe to San Diego or to Barcelona. My characters will tell me where to go. But this blog’s focus is not about my writing, it is about idioms, so if you want to follow some of my story ideas, go to  marybulliner.com. That is my author web page which is a work in progress and needs to be developed more. Stay tuned for that one. In between time, I am ready to roll with my blog. Once again, on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’ll be here.

Until then…have a great one!

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