Stuff your grandma says

yuriy-rzhemovskiy-249267-unsplash.jpg

long johns

Called ‘long underwear’ by those under 40 if they have any idea what we’re describing. I’m wearing a silk pair now because in Toronto it’s minus 21 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. A centuries-old company in England developed warm under-clothing wear named after the 19th-century boxer John Sullivan, although they’re no use to him now.

Drawing a blank

These days it means “I’ve searched my memory and found nothing,” or, “was not successful,” as in a Peter Wimsey novel: “By twelve o’clock, Miss Climpson decided that she had drawn a blank at the Central tea shop.” The phrase has contradictory origins. One is from the blank bullets that save your noggin in Russian roulette; the other comes from useless lottery tickets in sold in the Middle Ages.

In 1812 American editor Charles Miner wrote, “When I see a merchant over-polite to his customers, thinks I, that man has an axe to grind.” It means to have a hidden agenda. Axes, commonly heavy wooden blades attached at right angles to wooden handles, were essential to chopping wood — once the only way you could heat your house. Although we heat with a furnace, we still have my father’s axe in our garage, and I use it to cut down the firewood handily delivered and stacked every fall by a local service for a fee that would make my father keel over. Keel: to capsize, as in a boat. Sometimes Grandma’s stuff gets murkier and murkier. Murk: oh, never mind.

In 1812 American editor Charles Miner wrote, “When I see a merchant over-polite to his customers, thinks I, that man has an axe to grind.” It means to have a hidden agenda. Axes, commonly heavy wooden blades attached at right angles to wooden handles, were essential to chopping wood — once the only way you could heat your house. Although we heat with a furnace, we still have my father’s axe in our garage, and I use it to cut down the firewood handily delivered and stacked every fall by a local service for a fee that would make my father keel over. Keel: to capsize, as in a boat. Sometimes Grandma’s stuff gets murkier and murkier. Murk: oh, never mind.

 

 

IMG_2989.JPG
muriel-sandoval-622190-unsplash.jpg

Going to hell in a handbasket

- means heading for disaster. It's presumed to refer to the baskets placed under guillotines to catch the results of an execution. Yuck.