Two nights ago, the world had a once in a blue moon experience…a super blue blood moon with an eclipse to be exact! I went the extra mile and got up at the crack of dawn all bright eyed and bushy tailed. It was my goal to kill two birds with one stone --see the super moon and satisfy my hungry tummy. The moon wasn’t worth a lick due to cloud cover! What a sin and a shame… but that’s the luck of the draw. It is was it is. I enjoyed breakfast anyway in order not to wither away or turn into nothing but skin and bones! My early morning will probably cause me to look rode hard and put away wet, but it will turn out alright because where there’s a will there’s a way.
Among the many things that make me an obvious transplant here in the flatlands of Ohio, perhaps the most notable is how I speak. Each family has their own favorite sayings that repeat like a good recipe. I decided to share some of the ones I personally savor (note all the phrases italicized)
Sometimes we know why we say things and sometimes it’s a mystery, but it’s all good. One of my favorite sayings is nothing to shake a stick at. Its origin is still in question but it’s funny to imagine grown people crazily shaking sticks at things. Speculations suggest the phrase might come from a Native American practice in battle of touching their enemy with a stick to “claim” them, and how worthless something would be to not even count it. Some people say it could come from a farmer counting a flock of sheep with a stick. A similar deflating phrase not worth a lick comes from such a small amount of food one would be wasting their time to even lick it. Nobody and nothing wants to be called not worth a lick.
I once heard a lawyer say to us potential jurors that he didn’t want to beat a dead horse, but he needed to clarify some rules. I remember glancing over at one particular juror who looked totally thrown off by the phrase, as if beating a dead horse would be one of our requirements since the lawyer didn’t want to do it. And another fun equine reference is rode hard and put away wet. A well-groomed horse would be dried off properly after a vigorous run so a person meriting this description must look like the wreck of the Hesperus!
Sorry, that last saying probably got lost on some of you because I’ve picked it up from my travels to the east-Coast. Phrases are definitely regional and my husband’s family in New Jersey certainly have their own. They laugh sort of with their eyes and say, “I wouldn’t know him if I tripped over him dead in the street.” I’m afraid to ask the origin of this one.
It shouldn’t be surprising that many of the every-day sayings I was surrounded by growing up West Virginia come from scripture. It is, after all Almost Heaven… here are just a few.
By the skin of my teeth …Job 19:20
To the ends of the earth…Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 28:24, Zechariah 9:10
Blind leading the blind…Matthew 15: 13-14
Bite the dust…Psalms 72:9
Go the extra mile…Matthew 5:41
Nothing but skin and bones…Job 19:19-20
Rise and shine…Isaiah 60:1
Salt of the earth…Matthew 5:13-16
Straight and narrow…Matthew 7:14
Tonight, before my head hits the pillow I’ll call my folks in the beautiful mountain state who keep me grounded (by the skin of my teeth). It’s because of them—they are the salt of the earth—that I try to walk the straight and narrow so when it’s all said and done my words might shine a light on The One who truly hung the moon.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel