Category Archives: idioms

cold hands, warm hearts

We had a our first snowfall of the season last night. It didn’t amount to much accumulation, but it did make the roads treacherous, especially once darkness fell. This morning, though, it looked pretty.

Phoebe and Theo were eager to go out and play in the snow. Phoebe still had to catch school bus, but I told them that if they were really fast getting ready and eating breakfast, they could play outside. They were remarkably fast (even though Theo tried to convince me that he’d be faster finishing breakfast if he didn’t have to eat any food), and I got their warm weather gear sorted out with unexpected speed as well.

I still had to get their lunches packed up, so I sent them outside to the yard without me. When I came out a bit later, this is what I encountered:

They had worked together, they were still working together, to build a snowman. They were discussing what they would use to make the face and other details, and, here’s the part that gets me, they weren’t bickering. My heart just about melted right there.


Theo at work.


Phoebe and Theo with the finished product. (Theo picked a leaf for a nose that reminded him of a carrot.)

I had helped a bit with getting a few of the items to stick into the snowman, since I didn’t want them taking off their mittens. My hands got cold quickly. Even after I put my own gloves on, my hands stayed cold. Waiting around the few more minutes for the bus, I got colder in the wind and sleet, in spite of my warm coat, boots, hat and gloves.

Phoebe got on the bus, and I drove Theo to preschool and came back home. My hands were still icy. I made some hot tea and warmed my hands on the mug and enjoyed the warmth of our house.

And I just couldn’t stop thinking about the people who were hit so hard by Hurricane Sandy, such a short distance from me. All those people without electricity, many without heat or the ability to cook food in their homes. Many without homes.

I thought of them in the dark and the wind and the wet and thought how much some of them must really, at that moment, just want to be warm.

I checked out the Occupy Sandy gift registry again, and tracked down more information from the group. They have a website with daily updates of their actions and needs. Here is today’s list of of their current needs:

Current Needs – Blankets Candles Flashlights Lights Water Food Batteries Diapers and Wipes Gloves and Masks Rubber boots Shovels Cleaning supplies and bleach Trash bags Serving dishes and utensils Anything that produces heatWinter wear (jackets, hats, gloves, warm stuff)

So much need. The need for shovels and trashbags and cleaning supplies is a reminder of how much work there is to be done. The need for diapers highlights to me how there must be many families with small children, dealing with darkness and cold and wetness and inadequate food and water sources, and the uncertainty of how long this will go on.

I placed an order from the registry for batteries and diapers and handwarmers. It warmed me a bit to know I might be helping someone else get warmth, light and comfort. The delivery likely won’t get there until Monday, and at least the forecast for the weekend is warmer, but I fear the need will continue through next week. Maybe longer. (How much longer?)

I also checked out the Occupy Sandy Relief NYC Facebook page, where they have been posting frequent updates. It warmed my heart to see their activity, calling for volunteers to help with specific tasks, like delivering hot meals that someone had donated to homebound senior citizens in the Rockaways.

I am so moved by the work that they are doing. So many have seen the need, and stepped up. I love it that members of the Occupy movement have taken their organizational expertise and networking skills and applied it to this crisis. And they are working like crazy, demonstrating their remarkable resolve and generosity of spirit.¹

I’d like to say thank you to all of you who are helping in the storm relief. May your hands stay as warm as your hearts.


The jack-o-lanterns are in disguise. They have neither hands nor hearts, but they are cold.²

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¹ I think back to the angry right-wing types who characterized the Occupy protesters as lazy and greedy, and wonder if they will eat their words. I doubt it, though. They’re too busy demonizing someone else.

² The old saying, “cold hands, warm heart,” came up a lot in my family when I was growing up, as my mother, my sister and I have perennially cold hands. (What, do people with warm hands have cold hearts?) I’m a bit too lazy to track down the origins of the expression, but here’s what one website says:

COLD HANDS, WARM HEART – “A reserved, cool exterior may disguise a kind heart. The proverb has been traced back to ‘Collectanea by V.S. Lean. First cited in the United States in ‘Blue Murder’ by E. Snell.” From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

I also came across an interesting behavioral study showing that people are more likely to be generous and think positively of others when they have warm hands than when they have cold. Something to think about. So everybody go put on your mittens or hold a hot beverage, and make some donations.

keep on path

This sign seems to offer helpful advice, but sometimes I’ve found myself with doubts I’m on the right path.

There is also something to be said for being a trailblazer, and heading off the path. You do need to watch out for hazards like poison ivy, though. Or other pitfalls. There might even be actual pitfalls! I’ve never seen a pitfall, other than in movies or TV shows I saw as a kid. It might actually be cool to build a pitfall, but if you did so, you should probably not do it on the path. For one thing, you’d probably get noticed by others who are out on walks on the path, and they might get suspicious of you out there with your shovel. You did bring a shovel, right? Because you’re not going to make a very effective pitfall if you just try digging a hole with your hands or a stick. Or even a spoon. It would take you a really long time with a spoon. Unless it’s a really big spoon, and unless the ground is really loose. So that’s another reason to go off the path. The ground’s going to be really packed hard on the path, and even if you had half a dozen friends there to help you with their grapefruit spoons, it would take a long time to build a pitfall big enough to catch something. No, I don’t know what you’re likely to catch. If this were a bikepath, you could catch a biker, but we already decided you should go off the path for this. So maybe a raccoon? Because, let’s face it, you’re going to get pretty tired of digging that pitfall, and I doubt you’ll keep at it long enough to make a hole big enough to catch something big like a bear. What were you planning to do with a bear anyhow? So just plan to keep things small and simple. A little hole, covered up with some sticks and camouflaged with some leaves. But not those leaves! I’m pretty sure those are poison ivy.

Come to think of it, it’s safer to keep on the path.

Better yet, keep on the couch and put on an episode of Gilligan’s Island. I’m pretty sure there was an episode where someone tried to make a pitfall.

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This photo was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, one of my favorite places in the world. I was remembering this photo with Friday’s theme of “path,” and thought I’d post something about the Japanese Tea Garden, or possibly something more meaningful about my path in life. I may have…strayed.

The Republic of Pants: Election 2012


It’s once again election season in the Republic of Pants. Four years ago, we were gripped by the tight pants race between Corduroy O’Bloomer and Trousers McPants. Today, the pants of the Republic are still split.

The media’s bias-cut stretches the fabric of the truth, tailoring the fit to either the Left Pants Leg or the Right Pants Leg. For those fully comfortable dressing on one side or the other, the choice may seem an easy fit. For those caught between the legs, however, the decision remains an uncomfortable one, and many concerns chafe.

After wearing O’Bloomer for 3 years, many are ready to try on a new pair of Pants. Some complain that O’Bloomer didn’t fit the way they’d hoped, that they’d been deceived by overly flattering dressing-room mirrors. Others never thought he was a good fit, and are pushing to go back to older pants styles. Yet there are still many who support O’Bloomer, and argue that his sturdily constructed pants are only beginning to be broken in.

O’Bloomer and his Vice Pants, Bootcut BiDenim, seek to publicize benefits of The Affordable Cleaners Act, a law by which all pants should be given access to adequate laundering. They claim that better fabric care for all pants will positively impact the well-being of the Republic, as well as addressing the rapidly rising costs of laundry. Critics argue that the dry cleaning companies will clean up while the pants of the Republic are hung out to dry.

Corduroy continues to be hemmed in by threadbare rumors, including that he is a Muslin, or just like Linen. Rumors that he was manufactured abroad persist in spite of his display of his “Made in the Pants Republic” labels.

Opposition styles, though, are also far from universally appreciated. After one of the most awkward and embarrassing fashion shows in decades, Tweed R. Moneypants was selected as challenger to O’Bloomer.

Few would call the Moneypants campaign seamless, with evidence of it being patched up on the fly. Many claim that R. Moneypants is really a pair of reversible pants, showing whichever pattern of his double-face fabric better suits his base. Some dispute his claims that he pulled himself up by his belt-loops, saying that he was braced by his father’s suspenders. Moneypants has further been criticized and for pocketing his assets in offshore Bermuda shorts, and for being in the back pocket of powerful suits with a vested interest in seeing him wear the Pants.

The uncomfortable stiffness of Tweedy’s material has been the butt of many jokes. Hammerpants Rayon, running mate of Moneypants, seems to be cut from a more comfortable pattern, but many doubt that his flashy cloth has enough substance to adequately cover the seat of the Pants Government.

Every fiber of the candidates is being examined for stains, holes and other defects, whether or not they are material to the issues. In this straight-legged race, neither side has the option to be a relaxed fit. Both must stay up on their briefs or risk being caught with their pants down. As the old adage goes, “He who slacks off gets sent to the cleaners.”

Both O’Bloomer and Moneypants are expected to be neatly pressed for the upcoming debates, with carefully tailored responses under their belts. Questions likely to be addressed include: How will each address the continuing strain on the fabric of the Pants Economy? How will they protect the National Pants from the looming menace of international Powerbritches? And finally, and most controversially, do leggings really count as pants?

3 white birds

Here are 3 unrelated white birds I’ve come across in the last few years.


A white dove at Alcazar in Sevilla, Spain.¹ (Photo taken in September, 2009)


A white rooster at a Massachusetts farm. (Photo taken in June, 2011)


A white peacock at a Massachusetts zoo. (Photo taken last Friday. And sadly not totally in focus.⁴)

I came across the first two photos last week when considering what to post for the friday foto finder theme of white. (I opted to post snow, instead.) On Friday, Phoebe had the day off school, so we went to the zoo, and came across the white peacock. And so my trio of white birds was complete.

¹ This pigeon-holed dove is also part of my collection of visual representations of idioms.²
² Perhaps someone can come up with expressions for the other two?
⁴ Should I just pretend it’s an artistic choice?

oil and water

They say that oil and water don’t mix. If two people just don’t get along, someone might just say “they are just like oil and water.” Which would you rather be? Probably water, right? Water gives life. Water is clean. I mean, who really wants to be oil? It’s all greasy and oily. On the other hand, when you pour oil and water together, which one ends up on top? Yeah, you think about that.

But here’s something else to ponder: if you pour oil and water into a glass, they separate. But who would want to pour oil and water into a glass? Really, what kind of recipe is that? Who comes up with these things? You’d be far more likely to try to mix oil and vinegar. Why isn’t the expression about that? Because of salad dressing, I’m telling you. People really want that oil and vinegar to mix, so they shake it up. They make them mix. If you said “those guys are just like oil and vinegar,” people would be all like “Huh? They taste good on mixed greens? That doesn’t make any sense.” That’s what I’m saying.

You know what else? If you put oil and water into a bowl with a package of brownie mix and 2 eggs, they do mix. Then you bake them together in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. So if you ever meet a couple of people who just can’t get along, that’s what you need to do. Bake some brownies with them. Or stick a toothpick into them.


If you put oil and water into a rice cooker with some rice, then they do end up kinda mixing. But only after the rice is cooked.

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This post was brought to you by Tiredness™ and a 2-year-old photo chosen arbitrarily from my photo library. For the record, I have not been eating any brownies. I did, however, bake some cookies. And some squash. But not together. Because you know what else doesn’t mix? Cookies and squash.

going after the low-hanging fruit

A few weeks back, Sue had a theme for our project 365 group of “idioms.” You’d think I’d be all over that one, but I totally missed the boat. When push came to shove, I came up empty-handed. Which is just a crying shame, since I think idioms are the bee’s knees.


A low-hanging apple, from September.

(It’s been challenging keeping up with the daily blogging and the daily photo-taking. I’ve been really pushing forward with my research, and still busy with other life obligations, so I find myself looking for quick-and-easy subjects. Apparently this includes a fair amount of fruit.)

falling down


It’s autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere. Fall. Here in New England, the leaves are changing colors. And falling.

But leaves aren’t the only things falling.¹ Gravity appears to have been at work in many areas, as evidenced by the fallen items below.

  • Humpty Dumpty: He had a great fall. (Actually, it didn’t turn out so great for him, what with the breaking up. Maybe his summer was better.)
  • Jack (of Jack and Jill): Fell down. Broke his crown.
  • The sky: It’s falling. (At least according to Chicken Little.)
  • The cradle: It will fall. Out of a tree. With a baby in it. (I’m not sure why a song about a baby falling out of a tree is supposed to help bring on sleep…)
  • London Bridge: It’s falling down. (Falling down, falling down.)
  • Falling Down (1993): A Michael Douglas movie
  • “Falling:” a song by Julee Cruise that was well known as the theme song for the TV series Twin Peaks.
  • The Fall: a “post-punk” band
  • take the fall: to take the blame for something
  • fall guy: someone who takes the fall, a scapegoat
  • The Fall Guy: An 80s TV series about a stunt man starring Lee Majors (better known for his 70s role as the “bionic man.”)
  • to fall short: to not meet expectations
  • fall asleep: to enter a sleeping state
  • fallout: consequences, especially those that aren’t immediate
  • fall in: to get into line
  • fall in love:an expression meaning, um, to fall in love. Crap. How do I even paraphrase that? I guess “become enamored of, usually in a romantic way.”
  • fall for someone: an expression meaning “be won over by someone,” or sometimes “start to like someone”
  • fall for something: to be tricked
  • fall into the pudding: this isn’t actually an expression²
  • Fall on Me” A song by R.E.M.
  • When I Pretend to Fall: an album by the Long Winters, and a line from the song “Stupid.” She laughs when I pretend to fall…
  • Ring around the rosie³:

    Ring around the rosie
    Pocket full of posie
    Ashes, Ashes
    We all fall down

And there it is. We all fall down.⁴

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¹ Clearly I’ve been falling down on the job with my ThThTh posts, seeing as the last one I posted was in December.

² There are loads more real idioms involving falling

³Apparently there are many different versions of this, some of which don’t even involve falling down. Theo has been reciting a version of this lately. Mostly what I hear is “Asses, asses, we fall down.” I don’t recall seeing that one on the Wiki page.

⁴ Often on our asses.

Cradle falling image from The Only True Mother Goose Melodies, by Munroe & Francis, 1833, found on the Gutenberg Project.