Cliche Sunday

Here we are again. Sunday already, after a very long weekend. Am I hedging, to let you know this might be a short post?

Yup, I am! I ran about yesterday doing errands, getting the horses’ manicures, walking the dog and practically steamcleaning the house. Today my husband decided it was time to get out and start the logging for the year. I didn’t complain, since we were cutting down the trees that shade my vegetable garden in the late afternoon.

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor and natureThis is before. And yes, I am standing in roughly the same place. Also, look at that 6 foot ladder leaning against the tree we cut down–tree makes it look like a toy, doesn’t it?? Sadly, that tree did not go to plan, but we all walked away–well, except for the tree, that is 😉

Image may contain: tree, outdoor and nature

Anyhoo, on to the reason we are all here-cliches!! And since we are on “Q,” the alphabet is helping me keep this short. Not a lot of “Q’s” out there anyway.

quick and the dead: all souls, living or dead. Many of us are familiar with the phrase from recent movies, particularly westerns. Quick in this application is not referring to speed, but rather the “quick” of life. The first time a baby moves in the womb is called the quickening, while quicksand means that the sand it has life, moving.But the phrase far predates any movies, being first found in the Bible. In the Bible it notes that only the Almighty can judge the quick and the dead–meaning all souls, whether they still live or have passed.

quid pro quo: to do something with the expectation of a favor in return. This cliché is an original Latin version that has become popular, literally meaning “something for something.”  But there are many versions in English as well;

One good turn deserves another.
           H. L’Estrange’s The Reign of King Charles, 1654

Or there is always “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” or even  the basic “I do for you, you do for me.” In recent years, the English versions have been used in many crime movies, giving them a rather Mob flavor. The Latin quid pro quo,however,  being used in law and legal contracts, sounds classier and has become more popular.

quality time: spending time with a neglected child/spouse/friend to make up for the neglect. This is an American phrase with roots in the ’70s.  The family was expanding in the  1970s, with women entering the workforce. The idea of quality time was to ensure that she felt she really could do it all:

How To Be Liberated–

The major goal of each of these role changes is to give a woman time to herself, Ms. Burton explained.”A woman’s right and responsibility is to be self fulfilling,” she said. She gives “quality time” rather than “quantity time” to each task, whether it be writing, cleaning the house or tending the children.
                                           Maryland newspaper The Capital, January 1973

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Cliche Sunday

Spring seems to have sprung in our corner of the world (if you ignore the threat of mixed snow/rain on Tuesday). I couldn’t be happier. We went down to our local flower show today, and I still have the energy and will to write about clichés. How marvelous. Love this time of year! So where were we again?

Oh yes, “P. ” Here we go:

pass the buck: to put the blame on someone else and slough responsibility. So who hasn’t heard this one? I admit, I always thought the “buck” was a dollar, without stopping to think why that would make sense. Are you  paying the next person to take the blame? No, actually, you aren’t. The “buck” is actually an article used during poker. In order to keep a game honest, the tradition of having the deal pass from player to player was formed. The next dealer was given a marker, often a knife, as they were easy to hand. If a player didn’t want to deal, they were allowed to “pass the buck” on to the next person. The nickname “buck” most likely came from the fact that many knives in the late 19th century had buck’s horn handles. The fashion later became given silver dollars as the marker, which is probably how money also became known as “bucks.”

panic stations: a call to alert, often exaggerated; ie: a retail store might call “panic stations” for its employees as it opened the doors on Black Friday. This is a naval phrase, a station being a part of the ship a sailor was assigned to. The Royal Navy, in particular, had several calls to orders; one of which was “action stations” if the ship came under attack.  “Panic stations” was an actual order as well:

Alarm gongs had already sent the guns’ crews to their invisible guns and immediately after the explosion ‘Panic stations’ was ordered, followed in due course by ‘Abandon ship’.
                         Behind the Veil, published in The Times, November 1918

pooped: battered and tired. This phrase also has naval, um, roots. The foredeck of a ship is called the poop deck. As it faces the storms and waves, it is most likely to be battered and worn during a tough journey. The damage was called “pooped,” and sailors took that phrase home with them. They would say they were “pooped” like the ship when they were exhausted. The colorfulness of the phrase took hold, and was used on land almost more than on the waves.

pulling strings: to manipulate a situation to one’s benefit. This term, of course, comes from puppeteering. While everyone is entertained by the puppets on the stage, they all know that there is someone backstage choreographing the activity. An excellent puppeteer can give a flawless performance and no one will pay attention to him being backstage.

play ducks and drakes: to squander your money. Ducks and Drakes is the official name for the old-fashioned skipping of stones across water. It was given that name as a properly skipped stone looked like a fowl rising from the water. But even the best skipper can fail to get a run across the water, and all eventually lose speed and drop beneath the water. Therefore, a person who suddenly has an abundance of money, and enjoys it quickly, can be said to be playing “ducks and drakes” with his money.  The phrase itself it old, first being found in The Nomenclator, or Remembrancer of Adrianus Junius:

a kind of sport or play with an oister shell or stone throwne into the water, and making circles yer it sinke….It is called a ducke and a drake, and a halfe-penie cake
       Hong Higgins, 1584

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Door to Adventure, the fifth

This was supposed to be the last episode, however, the story  took a bit of a left turn. I am sure I have at least one reader (M) who would be most unhappy with me if I left it as is. So the story will continue–I just don’t think it will be tomorrow!


The lavender door opened to reveal an expanse of flat plain, grass floating tall. In the distance a white tree glowed, even with storm clouds gathered above it. The clouds tapered out to an oddly pewter sky.

Haily glanced at Irene, expecting disappointment. Irene was staring at the storm clouds, an odd look on her face.

“We need to get to that tree, “she said.

The tree stood, tall and bright. Must be a birch, Haily thought. She sighed, then gathered her bag.  Billy grabbed one of Irene’s and they started walking.

Irene seemed driven, leading the way. As they finally reached the tree, Haily heard a rumble.

A single horseman galloped over the rise behind the tree, but he was swiftly followed by more that fanned out around Frankie, Haily and Irene. The riders blocked them from the tree. Irene made a sound of frustration.

The lead horseman sat, relaxed, watching them. His lean face made Haily think of Native Americans-tanned, with deep eyes and spiky dark hair. He reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

Irene shook off Frankie’s restraining hand. She stared at the horse in front of her, looking from it to the one next to it. She put her hand up, tentatively, almost as if she thought it might go through the horse’s face, instead of resting on soft hair. She looked wonderingly at the lead horseman, ignoring the other riders.

“How do you do it?” she asked.

The horseman looked surprised. Haily looked at intently at all the horses surrounding them, wondering what Irene saw.  That horse was brown, the other looked tan, and the last, well, Haily didn’t know anything about horses, but it was a darker brown. The riders looked similar, lean men sitting comfortably looking at them solemnly. Warriors, Haily thought, unsure why that word came to mind. But it fit.

Another man, on foot, came to stand beside the first rider; placing his hand on the rider’s knee.

“What do you see?” he asked Irene in a deep voice.

The man looked like an older version of the rider, Haily thought. In fact, she thought, her earlier thought on the rider’s familiarity rising again, they both look like—she turned to look at Irene again. Irene who always looked slightly tan, who had always hated her long rangy legs and torso, Irene who was wiping her sleek dark hair out of her face as she turned to face the new man.

“They aren’t real,” she said simply. “I don’t know how, but they aren’t really there.”

She walked past the rider in front of her. The rider made no move to stop her as she walked past, although the lead rider looked like he would jump off his horse as Irene approached the white tree. The older man restrained him, watching interestedly.

Haily went to follow Irene, who walked towards the tree with a bemused look on her face. Frankie reached out to grab her, shaking his head when Haily gave him a dirty look.

“Um, Irene? There is something you might not know,” Haily called. “Have you noticed-“

“NO,” the young rider burst out, “you must not!”

The other horse and riders disappeared. Frankie and Haily whirled, trying to figure out where they had gone.  The older man still held the rider, although he was on foot now, and struggling to reach Irene.

“Uncle, she cannot! You know this-she will be killed!”

“Frankie!” Haily screamed.

Frankie raced after Irene just as she reached out her hand. He stopped, a horrified look on his face as Irene placed both hands gently on the trunk, taking in a deep breath.

The clouds roiled, twisting upon themselves above the shining tree. They suddenly dissipated, fleeing outward in a circle towards the edge of the  pewter horizon, leaving a bright blue sky behind.

“Ah,” the older man whispered. “Blood will tell.”






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Doorway to Adventure, Four



Haily raced down the tunnel, wanting to be the first one there. They hadn’t had a chance to explore any more doors because of all the graduation hoopla. She couldn’t wait to try the next door.  Her bag bumped her leg as she ran. Wouldn’t Irene be surprised, Haily was prepared today!

Haily came around the last curve and stopped, disappointed. Irene sat, her back straight against the wall as she stared at the lavender door across from her.

Haily frowned, alerted by the tension in Irene. Dropping down next to her, Haily saw the large duffel next to Irene.

“Hey,” Haily said. “You beat me.”

“That’s cuz I got ready last night and you had to pack this morning,” Irene smiled. She seemed distant, even when she leaned her head on Haily’s shoulder.


“I don’t want to live in this town any more. My mom, well, she won’t even notice. You’re going to SCU, Billy only has a year left.”

“I thought that you were going with me! SCU isn’t that far away, I thought we’d be roommates off campus.”

“And do what? Serve beer to the college boys and girls? We see how well that worked for Mom. I can’t afford college.”

Haily sat, stumped. It had never occurred to her that it wouldn’t be her and Irene against the world. They had been together since first grade.

Irene was always with Haily’s family, her mom being what Haily’s mom nicely called a  “barfly.” She waitressed at the local bar, and went home with whatever man she found that night. Sometimes it lasted a month, sometimes only a weekend, but it was never good for Irene. So they had grown up together, Haily’s parents happy to bring Irene into the fold of a real family.

“So, what are you planning?”

Irene indicated her duffel and backpack. “I got everything important in there. I cashed out my account, since I wasn’t sure if my debit card will work in there. I have a pay cell, figuring if yours worked this one will too.”

Haily was stunned. Footsteps down the tunnel stopped her from saying anything. Frankie came around the corner and saw Irene’s bags and nodded.

“I thought this might be the one,” he said.

“What?? And you didn’t say anything?” Haily demanded, staring at the pale purple door as if it had the answers. “You don’t even like purple.”

Irene smiled. “I know we have one more, but this one just feels like the one.”

“Ok,” Frankie said, “lets do it.”

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Doorway to Adventure, Three


Irene tapped her pencil on the desk, consciously keeping a slow tempo as her impatience mounted. She watched as Mrs. Gorgesom handed out homework assignments, then shoved everything in her bag as the bell rang. Racing out the back of the school, she entered the tunnels in less than two minutes.

Haily still beat her. Breathless, Irene dropped her books in front of the doors.

“How did you beat me?” she gasped.

“Study hall,”Haily smiled smugly. “I ducked out early. Went to the bathroom and never came back.”

Irene shook her head.  Haily never failed to surprise her, even after being friends since grade school. Hearing footsteps, she looked up, expecting to see Frankie. Instead, Greg was coming down the tunnel.

Irene and Haily immediately jumped up and ran to meet him.  It was Haily that neatly turned him before he got to the doors, scolding him for ruining a perfectly good prank they were playing on Frankie. Irene followed them back up the tunnel; nodding when necessary and hiding her smile. No one could out-talk Haily.

Frankie met them near the entrance. “Sorry, class ran late. What’s this?”

“Greg met us down in the tunnel,” Haily announced. “Irene and I had a joke for you, but I guess that is over now.”

“Sorry,” Greg said, “although, maybe you should be thanking me, Frankie. I can’t imagine any prank Haily planned would be that fun for you!”

“Good point,” Frankie agreed. “I guess we might as well head out.”

“Hey, Irene, my dad saw your mom–” Greg started.

“Oh! I left my back pack in the tunnel,” Irene broke in before turning and darting back.

When she got to the doors, she bypassed her bag and picked up the oblong stone Frankie had designated as the door-stop. Pushing the lintel stone on cherry-pink door, she went through.


Frankie and Haily found her sitting on a hillside.

Irene was tucked in on herself, arms wrapped on her shins and her head on her knees as she stared out on the vivid canopy in front of her. They sat down, bracketing her. Haily put an arm around her while Frankie leaned against her. They all sat looking out at the autumn leaves spread before them.

“I wonder where we are,” Haily finally said, reaching for her phone. Irene held out a hand to stop her.

“I don’t want to know,” she said. Haily stared at her, but put the phone away.

Irene knew she couldn’t explain it, but she just wanted to sit in this moment. The strong edges of pinecones adding structure to the waving grass, the leaves drifting down to carpet all with reds, yellows and oranges. Her dad was probably laying under just such a canopy of leaves, somewhere in the world, she thought. She’d like to know where. Frankie would understand, she knew, he would understand the mournful beauty of the bright decaying leaves covering the acorns that would seed new growth.

Haily hopped up, unable to sit still that long. “How is it fall here? It’s spring at home. I guess it must be around the world, opposite seasons. Or is it always fall here?”

Irene shrugged. “I would love it to be fall here always. I could come and sit whenever I wanted.”

Haily frowned, Irene’s answer not satisfying her. “Hey Frankie, is Lizzy still after you?”

Irene felt Frankie tense next to her.

“Could you believe it, Frankie and Lizzy? Lizzy and Frankie?  I mean, what is she thinking?” Haily wondered as she moved down the hill to inspect the trees.

“You should tell her,” Irene murmured.

Frankie hunched a shoulder. “I know.”

“She wouldn’t care.”

“Are you kidding?” Frankie whispered, “she would build me the largest damn float ever and put it in the parade! I don’t think I am ready for that.”

Irene burst out laughing, the truth of his description melting the last of her depression.  “I do love you, Frankie!”

Haily came back to see what the laughter was about. “You love Frankie?” she gasped. “Is that why he doesn’t like Lizzy?”

Irene rolled over, clutching her belly, giggling helplessly. “No, n-no,” she hiccupped. “I l-love you both!! You are my best friends ever!”

She caught her breath and sat up, extending her hands to Haily. “I think I am ready to go home now.”


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The Second Doorway to Adventure


They met in the tunnel as planned. Each had prepared this time: rucksacks of water and snacks, ways to mark the trail back, rugged shoes and clothes for exploring. Haily practically hummed with excitement.

“Which door today?” she asked. “How do we choose?”

Irene pulled sidewalk chalk from her bag, then numbered the doors from left to right.

“I think we should just go in order,” she said. “What do you think, Frankie?”

“Why not?” He shrugged. “I guess that is as good a way as any.”

He reached up and pushed the lintel stone of the blue door Irene had labeled #1. Haily grabbed Irene’s hand as the door swung out and fresh sea filled the hallway. Once more Haily was the first one out the door, dragging Irene with her. Frankie followed, stopping to wedge a brick in the doorway.

“Nice,” Haily said admiringly.

Frankie led the way across the tall grass, stopping periodically to put markers. Haily danced around the other two, clearly wanting to run ahead. She suddenly disappeared from view, screeching.

Irene and Frankie dashed forward in time to see her rolling down the dune towards the water. She sat up as a wave splashed her face. Frankie fell down on the dune, laughing hysterically. Irene leaned against him, smiling down at her friend. Grimacing, Haily climbed back up the  sand.

“Yeah, yeah, so funny,” she groused as she came to stop besides them. Haily stiffened as she looked beyond them. “Um, guys, I can’t see the door!”

Irene and Frankie spun.

“Haily! You can’t see the door because it is over there! God, I thought I would die!” Irene exclaimed, then collapsed on the ground.

Frankie started laughing again, while Haily looked even more frustrated. Then, recovering her natural ebullience, she pulled her cell phone out of her rucksack.

“Think it will work?” she winked as she turned it on and thumbed through her apps.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Somewhere….ah, there it is! GPS,” she announced proudly.  “We are….huh.”

“Well,” Irene demanded, “where are we?”

“Not sure, it doesn’t seem to be working properly. Maybe the leap through space confused it.”

Frankie rolled his eyes.  He got up and headed for the dune.

“Hey, where you going?” Haily demanded.

“Out there,” he pointed, “I’m pretty sure the owner of that house know where they live.”

Haily and Irene stared at the trail of stepping-stones leading to the house out on the sand spit. Haily immediately followed her brother. Irene looked back at the safety of the door, so far away, then followed the other two.

“So, what,” Haily said, “you are just going to say we have no idea what continent we are on and can they please tell us?”

“No, how about we just say we got lost? If they tell us where we are, we should be able to figure it out.”

Irene had been slowing down as they got closer to the first rock. Now she stopped.

“Wait, what if we can’t understand them? What if they don’t speak english? What if, what if they aren’t nice?” she finished on a whisper.

Frankie looked at her seriously while Haily hopped from foot to foot.

“That’s a good point,” he finally admitted. “Maybe I should go out there and you guys wait here.”

“Then what?” Haily asked. “We aren’t going home without you! What would I tell Mom? At least if we go we don’t have to worry the entire time. If they don’t understand, we will pretend to be tourists. And if they aren’t nice then we will, we will punch them! Frankie knows how. Lord knows he does it to me enough,” she finished, sticking her tongue out at her brother.

“Ok,” Frankie nodded decisively. “We probably shouldn’t be separated. I don’t want to explain that to Mom or Dad either!”

Still not reassured, Irene followed the other two, again, out onto the rocks

The rain started pouring down as Irene trailed after Haily and Frankie. Reaching in her rucksack, she tugged out an umbrella, trying unsuccessfully to squelch her laughter as the other two broke into a run. She did hurry up, not wanting them to get to the unknown house before she got there. She caught them just as they reached the path leading to the front door.

Even in the storm with granite clouds behind it, the house looked friendly and normal. Catching a glimpse of Haily’s face, Irene could see she looked disgusted. Of course, that could be because she was dripping and Irene wasn’t. Frankie went up the steps, ignoring the puddles drowning his shoes. He knocked firmly on the door.  Haily joined Irene under the umbrella and they hung back as Frankie knocked again. He waited, then shrugged as he looked at the girls.

“Don’t think anyone is here.”

“Probably a summer home or camp,” Irene said.

Haily darted towards one of the wide windows, standing on tiptoe to peek in. “Hey! I see a French magazine! Maybe we are in France. I’ve always wanted to go to France,” she said.

“Great,” Frankie answered, “now you have been. Or they just like reading French magazines,” he ended, stamping her dreams as only a brother could. “And we need to get back, it’s getting late.”

Haily flounced off, sticking her tongue out at her brother. Irene rolled her eyes, then followed Haily, with Frankie coming behind them. All three  jumped when Haily’s phone suddenly rang. Pulling it out of her bag like a live snake, Haily cautiously put it to her ear.

“Hi….Mom!….I know, I know, we are on the way home….I’m with Frankie and Irene.”

Frankie and Irene could both hear her mom’s voice calm after Haily said that.

“Yeah, be home soon……can Irene stay the night?…”Haily lowered her voice and moved away, while Frankie moved closer, standing at Irene’s shoulder. “You can call her mom….you know it doesn’t matter…”

Haily hung up and popped her phone back in her bag. “Guess we just needed a tower! Cool. And you can come home, then head to school with us in the morning, Irene.”

Frankie expertly shepherded the girls back across the sand and grass while Haily chattered at Irene. Just before they got to the door, Haily pulled her phone back out. She thumbed through her apps again.

“Hah, France,” she exclaimed triumphantly, showing the GPS on her phone to Frankie before dancing through the door.

Frankie shook his head, smiling at Irene. “You ok?”

“Yeah, sure, why wouldn’t I be?” she asked stiffly.

“Well, she kinda is dragging you to our house. That ok?”

“Oh yeah, sure, be fun,” Irene answered, relaxing and heading through the door.

“C’mon Frankie,” Haily yelled. “Mom is going to call again any minute.”

Frankie shut the door carefully,  leaving the door-stop next to door #Two.

“Tomorrow, tomorrow, after school we try this one,” he said before following the girls home.


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Doors to Adventure


“Come on,” Haily urged.

Irene sighed, but followed Haily into the tunnel behind the school.

“What is so important?” she demanded.

“Frankie! Oh, I hope no teachers catch wind of this.”

Irene stopped short. “You are not dragging me down here for some fight, are you?”

“No, no, come ON.” Haily grabbed Irene and pulled her down into the cool dark.

No one really knew why the tunnel had been built. Rumors flew, of course: war armory, refugee hideaway. The favorite was that it led to another secret tunnel. Irene didn’t believe any of it.

Until they stopped next to Frankie and the open door.

“Frankie! Where did that door come from?” Irene demanded.

Frankie smirked proudly. “Remember when Mr. Forest gave that boring lecture about school history? No one really knew why this tunnel was built. Or even when. It was here when they built the school. So definitely not bomb shelter from the 60’s-”

“Frankie!!!!” Haily urged. “We don’t need another boring lecture. What is this place?”

“Ok, ok,” he threw his hands up. “I was curious, so I came down to investigate. There has to be a purpose, right? I found this door after about two weeks of searching. The mechanism to open it was really, really hidden.”

“What’s in there?” Haily asked, peering around the door.

“Don’t know, was waiting for you and Irene.”

“Well, let’s go in!”

“Hey, wait a minute!” Irene said. “We have no idea what is in there! Could be rats…huge mutant rats for all we know. Shouldn’t we get an adult? Or at least let someone know where we are going?”

Haily gave her a dismissive glance before pushing Frankie towards the door. Turning on the flashlight he carried, he led Haily  into the deep darkness, leaving Irene frustrated in the tunnel. Finally, with one last peek at the light reflecting at the end of the tunnel, she followed Frankie and Haily.

The new tunnel had a sharp bend almost immediately, Frankie and Haily were already around it. Irene could see their shadows bouncing wildly off the far wall as she turned the corner herself. They were standing silently when she joined them.

“What’s going…” Irene’s voice died off as she saw the doors arranged in the wall in front of them.

Frankie gestured at the doors, sending the shadows dancing again. There were four doors, ornately curved lintels over gleaming wood. The stone framing each door was a luminous color; pink, teal, purple, blue glowed softly in the beam from the flashlight.

“Frankie, did you find out who built this tunnel?” Irene asked quietly, staring at doors. They were so tall, and felt….unworldly. She seemed tiny next to them.

He shook his head and answered without taking his eyes off the doors. “I was going to go the town office and look up plans, see if I could get a date at least. But I found the trigger to open the door first. Haily wanted to come right down.”

“Do you think we could open them?” Haily asked excitedly.  “I mean, is there a hidden trigger here?”

Irene smiled. Haily always wanted to jump in feet first. She’d been leading Irene and Frankie around for years. Frankie was a good influence on his sister, but sometimes he followed her without thought either. Then it was up to Irene to be the voice of reason. She didn’t think they were going to listen this time.

She wasn’t going to bother. She wanted to know what was behind those doors too.

Frankie gave Irene the flashlight, then picked a door frame. He ran his hands over the light teal wood, looking for any nicks or fissures. Irene held the light on the door for him, searching with her eyes as well. Haily, not to be out done, started feeling along the cherry pink door next to Frankie.  Irene stepped back to divide the light evenly between the doors for them. That’s when she saw it.

“Uh, guys, what about that?”

Frankie straightened up, then pushed the stone on the lintel that Irene was pointing at. He and Haily jumped back as the door swished inward. Fresh air swept into the tunnel as the three stared in amazement.

“That, that isn’t possible,” Irene gasped, then grabbed Haily as she started forward.  “Tomorrow,” she said firmly. “we need to plan this out.”

Frankie agreed, and they went back up the tunnel, dragging a reluctant Haily between them.

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Story Day Deadline

So not sure if anyone noticed, but down past the twitter feed and the tags on the right column is this little button that promised a longer story on Feb 28th.

I certainly didn’t notice! I picked that day arbitrarily in January and then totally forgot to post the promised story. Not that I didn’t have the story, just that I forgot to post it.

So this week I will be posting an installment each day. The first installments are from a series I started for my Flash Fiction posts; both Friday Fictioners and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.

No longer being bound by word count, I did a bit of editing and tied them together a little better. The last installment is one I planned, but never posted. I hope you enjoy them all 🙂

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March 27, 2017 · 7:42 pm

Cliche Sunday

Oh, it is time for ‘O’s!

on the nail: one has hit the meaning on the head. This came about as a monetary phrase, meaning ‘spot cash’ (paying at the time). The origin seems a bit uncertain, as both the Dutch and the Germans also use this phrase. It is also referenced in a Scottish deed from 1326. Ireland has some claim to it, as well, as there was a pillar in Limerick that was topped with a copper plate under the Exchange. The pillar was called “The Nail” and a buyer would place his money on the copper plate. It seems more likely that the pillar was named after the cliché than that the cliché came from the pillar, based on the timeline.

one horse town: a town so sleepy and lifeless that one horse might do all the work. I admit, I thought this might have been said of a town that could afford one horse. I don’t suppose it makes much difference. The phrase is definitely an Americanism, and is thought to have originated in New Orleans. The popularity of the cliché didn’t spread until it reached Boston, where it  expanded quickly.

on the bubble: on the edge, particularly for sporting events-one may make the cut, but could still be pushed out if a following competitor does better. This phrase definitely comes from the American car racing.  Indy 500 reporters in 1970 used the term:

On the ‘bubble’ is rookie Steve Krisiloff whose 162.448 m.p.h. was the slowest qualifying speed last weekend. With only six spots open, Krisiloff’s machine would be ousted if seven cars qualified at a faster speed this week end.
                                –The Lima News, May 1970

on the quiet: also known as “qt” or “down low”, meaning to keep something secret to the benefit of all. The phrase, although popular in American culture in the last decades, is more likely to be a British saying. The phrase is also older than one might expect given its recent popularity,  with the first written  record is from 1862:

Unless men can work [the gold] on ‘the quiet’, they are not likely to make ‘piles’ so rapidly as Messrs. Hartley and Riley.
Otago: Goldfields & Resources

I will finish with a classic phrase, both in gravity and origin:

once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more: we must try yet again, despite overwhelming odds.  This is a rallying cry from Henry V, Act III, 1598, in which Henry was exhorting his Army to break through gap in the wall surrounding the city of Harfleur, which was under siege by the English.

      Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
      Or close the wall up with our English dead.
     In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
     As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
   Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
     –Shakespeare,  King Henry V, 1598

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Friday Fictioneers

I finally made the time to join the fun of Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers again. I do hope she will forgive me for the extra twenty words I used 🙂 The idea is to write a story based on the photo prompt using (roughly) one hundred words. Do read all the other stories HERE. And thanks for the wonderful photo this week to J Hardy Carroll.

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll 121 words

Lorelei traced the smooth metal as her mom pulled her firmly along the sidewalk.

“Now, when we get there, you be good,” Mom was saying. “I just don’t know how Missus feels about you there. I mean, I told her, but….”

Lorelei let her hand swoop up as the metal arched. A house appeared, set back behind the fence. Lorelei had never seen a place so fancy, not even on the scratchy screen of the little black and white.

Her mom stopped at the entrance, looking down at her.

“I know you are a good girl,” she said, “but today is important. I need to keep this job.”

Lorelei nodded her head, nervously patting down her skirt, before following her mom.



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