Sunday, June 24, 2012

Popular Sayings And Their Origins

I knew a fellow who devised a cheap way to get his pigs to market during winter. He stood the pigs in shallow pans of water, and when the water froze, he tied the pans to teams of sled dogs. The dogs transported their live cargo to the city and were if anything faster than the train, which was slowed by frequent stops.

This did not satisfy the farmer, however, who wished to move even more pigs to market in a shorter amount of time. He attached sails to the pans. Sure enough, the notoriously strong winds west of Chicago filled the sails and pushed the ice pans and their inhabitants even more swiftly to the city.

All would have been well had not a prairie storm spawned a great tornado during one of the pig runs. It blew the swine into the air. The winds were so powerful that for weeks afterwards hogs were found as far away as the rooftops of Little Rock, Arkansas and atop the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

For this reason, folks in Chicago no longer use the phrase “living high on the hog.”

They do, however, occasionally say “a bird in the hand is worth a herd of pigs in an ice pan.”

And now you know what that means.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Roof stability

Necessity is the mother of invention, the saying goes, and nowhere have I seen this better demonstrated than up above Monteagle town in Tennessee. The ground there is so steep that instead of building their cabins from the ground up, locals start at the top and work their way down. As each wall nears earth, the builder stakes it into the sod with wooden posts. I suggested to one fellow that if he wanted even greater stability, he should plant fir tree seedlings along the support walls and add some  Wizard Water©. He did so, and sure enough, the seedlings sprouted almost instantaneously. They grew a foot a second, and soon the walls were girded with a fence-like series of living support posts.

My method would have worked perfectly if the seedlings hadn't displaced the roof. The fir trees shot through the shingles and lifted the beams skyward. Soon the fellow had a wonderful, four-walled enclosure fit for chickens and goats, but no shelter against inclement weather. He was so upset that he began throwing everything he had at me. An adze inadvertently hit the roof and knocked it off the treetops. The roof crashed into the mountainside and rolled until it lodged atop a church in the town below. The church's congregation was overjoyed. They had just lost their meeting house roof a few weeks earlier when it slid off during a storm. They had been praying for a replacement and now their prayers seemed answered, as this roof fit better and didn't wobble on the steep slope. The choir sang their thanks at the following Sunday service.

No one heard them, though. Nothing beats a roof with a perfect pitch.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Payment Strategy

I also knew of a fiddler who kept a rattlesnake rattle in the body of his instrument.

"If my employer delays payment after a show," he said, "I tell him, 'Well I can wait, but Lightning here insists on being fed regular-like.'

"Then I shake the rattle out of the fiddle body. When the rattle appears by itself I exclaim,'Oh no! He must've gotten tired of waiting to be fed and gone off in search of somethin' to eat!'

"I tell my debtor that Lightning is a special breed of rattlesnake known as a Shanghai rattler -- very fast, but luckily fond of bacon and human legs," said the fiddler.

"I tell him to set traps around both pigs and humans, if he wants the best chance of recapturing the fellow."

"Then I add that I would help, but I, too, must seek sustenance elsewhere, and I take my leave.

"This rarely fails to produce payment, plus some cured pork."

The fiddler appeared to be well-fed and was wearing a new suit and pair of shoes, unlike most of those in his profession whom I have seen wandering from town to town and job to job.

To which, dear Reader, I add the following: If you can lay on the ham, you'll always bring home the bacon.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

An Ingenious Use for Wizard Water

A cowboy once told me of an ingenious use he made of Wizard Water©. He'd purchased an expensive pair of leather boots, dyed in a red plaid pattern, but worried that thieves might make off with them in the night. Before going to sleep, he placed a rattlesnake in one of the boots, and let it be known that he had done so.

His trail companions not only left his boots alone, they slept in the chuck wagon.

Come morning, the fellow placed a jigger of Wizard Water© in a gunny sack near the occupied boot. Then he tipped the boot over in the sack's general direction. The snake, upon smelling the elixir, slithered quickly into the sack. The cowboy then scooped up the sack, tied it and carried it in his saddlebag until the next night.

He planned to continue thusly for the remainder of the cattle drive -- dropping the snake in the boot each evening and luring it out in the morning -- occasionally putting a mouse into the sack for the snake's nourishment and added incentive to return. After the first night, though, the Wizard Water© had its effect and the snake began to grow. In the morning, the rattler completely filled the cowboy's right boot and could not be dislodged. He could not shoot it without damaging the boot, and he could not knife it without risking its poisonous bite.

Finally, he sprinkled Wizard Water© over the boot, whereupon the leather expanded, freeing the snake. The snake had developed a fondness for Wizard Water© however, and carried the damp boot off with it into the desert.

He tried to get a posse together to search for the boot, but no one volunteered.

The cowboy then sought out the bootmaker. Red is extremely hard to match, though, even when it doesn't come in plaid. The fellow eventually had to order an entirely new pair of boots. Mindful of his experience, he asked that they be plain brown. He no longer attempted to guard them with rattlesnakes.

Keep this in mind if you ever see a large plaid boot lying alone in the desert. Whatever you do, do not look inside.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.