Tag Archives: Words

Rubber boat: Laughing into the next four years

I never thought I’d see the day. This week I saw a headline about the United States that read: “An Empire Has Fallen.” Conversations over the past few days have involved the phrase, “I hope the election can unfold without violence.”

Dear America, what has become of you? As often as I have resented you for being bigger, better at the Summer Olympics, and more replete with winter sunbathing beaches than my Canada, more often I have admired you. Oh, how I want to do so again.

I can’t bear to think about the election. It’s so out of my control. I’m distracting myself with happy thoughts. Like rubber boat, for instance.

Recently, on The Spectacled Bean blog, Ally asked the question: “Of all the words in the English vocabulary which ONE is your favorite?” (Something to ponder.)

It reminded me of an experience I had way back in 1980 when I was an exchange student in Mexico. I went to an all-girls, Catholic high school. (Quite a change for me. This Protestant girl did not know a Hail Mary from a Hall Monitor.) I was learning to speak and write Spanish, but the girls there loved to practice English.

One day, in a book we were working on together, we came across a picture of a rubber dinghy. The girls asked me how to say it in English.

“Rubber boat,” I replied.

They fell apart laughing. To a Spanish ear, that sounds hilarious.

“What?!” they said. “Say it again!”

“Rubber boat,” I repeated.

They howled with laughter, even louder than before “Again!”

“Rubber boat,” I said.

The more I said it, the harder they laughed. Then they tried saying it, and I couldn’t help laughing at them. Soon all of us were gasping for breath with tears running down our faces.

Ah, such a happy memory. I’m going to ride it into this week. America, I’m pullin’ for ya.

Two hands put together to form the shape of a heart.

Doing this post whipstitch

In my previous post I wrote about different ways to look at a commonly used expression. Another part of our book club conversation that day involved different expression.

A family member of one of our members lives in eastern Canada. In a conversation the family member said, “I can take care of that whipstitch,” meaning, “I can do that quickly.”

That was a new one for all of us.

A whipstitch is a simple sewing stitch used to join two pieces of fabric, knitting or crocheting together. It is the fastest way to complete that task, so the expression makes sense.

I found a different definition on Urban Dictionary. [CAUTION: Some definitions on Urban Dictionary may cause you to lose sleep, or at the very least say “Ew.”]

Their definition:every chance you get,” as in, “my wife calling me at every whipstitch is getting very annoying.

I hadn’t heard that one before either. I like it, even though I would have preferred a different sentence as a demonstration.

Something like, “Telemarketers calling at every whipstitch is getting very annoying.” There’s something we can all get on board with.

Do you have any local expressions to add to my list?

Learning through reading

I don’t know about you, but during this pandemic I have read more books electronically than ever. Without book stores or libraries, I have turned to e-books for my fix.

I prefer a paper book, but needs-must. The one thing I do like better about an e-book is the built-in dictionary. If I don’t know a word, I touch my finger and, voil√†, there is the definition.

Here are some words I have learned in the past few months, used in a sentence:

glabellar: The smooth part of the forehead above and between the eyebrows. (Now that I’m older, my glabellar is not as smooth as this definition implies.)

synesthesia: A neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. (Some people with synesthesia always see the letter A in the colour red, and when I see I word I don’t know in a book, I see red.)

faffing: [UK informal] To spend time doing a lot of things that are not important instead of the one thing you should be doing. (At a cottage it is easy to spend time faffing around instead of writing blog posts.)

hierophant: A person, especially a priest in ancient Greece, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles. (I need a hierophant to help me understand some things in the books I’m reading.)

tricoteuse: A woman who sits and knits, a reference to women who did this at public executions during the French Revolution. (I would be willing to become a tricoteuse during the trial of a writer who uses the word tricoteuse.)

prelapsarian: Characteristic of the time before the fall of man [Editor’s note: they mean people], that is, innocent and unspoiled. (In the prelapsarian Eden, people used non-gender specific language.)

hoaching: Full of or swarming with people. (During this time of pandemic avoid hoaching places.)

How are you reading these days? What have you learned from that experience?

Boy jumping off dock into a lake.
At a cottage it’s easy to spend time faffing around.