A stitch in time

What do these things have in common?

They are all nine. Turn me on, dead man.

Better eight than late

Dang it. I did it again. I forgot my bloggiversary. Fancy Notions is now eight and some days old. Feel free to send gifts of bronze and pottery and linens and appliances.

Etiquette & superstition: wood

A woman lost her eye in an unfortunate accident. She didn’t have a lot of money to buy a glass eye replacement, so she opted for the less expensive wooden eye. She was very insecure about her wooden eye and all of her friends tried to help her believe that no one would notice.

Finally her friends managed to get her to agree to go to a Sadie Hawkins-style dance. After standing alone against the wall for half the night she noticed a man standing on the opposite side of the room looking rather dejected. She noticed that he had a cleft palate – a “harelip.”

Sensing that he had his own insecurity to deal with, she decided to walk up to him. “Would you like to dance?” she asked.

He excitedly replied, “Would I?! Would I?!”

And they danced, and then later they had some punch.

ETIQUETTE: Unless you are going by some crazy newfangled system, the traditional gift for a fifth wedding anniversary is something made of wood. Millicent Fenwick of Vogue’s Book of Etiquette likes a good unvarnished wooden salad bowl, and perhaps some wooden serving utensils to go with it. When presented with the question “Where does the salad bowl go?”, Judith Martin in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior advises “Directly under the salad.”

SUPERSTITION: The origin of touching or knocking on wood is often thought to relate to asking for protection from “The Cross,” but it actually pre-dates the Christian church and has its origins in the worship of trees. Depending on where and when you lived you might be a worshipper of ash trees, a worshipper of sycamores, or even of yews (yews – can you imagine? Oh boy. Yews). Eventually, however, the cult to be in was the cult of the oak tree. Out of all the trees, oaks seemed to be hit by lightning the most, so it was deduced that oaks were the home of the Sky God, who would punish a boasting person by striking him with lightning. So… I guess I need a witch to explain the whole part about why touching a tree that is most frequently hit by lightning is going to protect you from being hit by lightning, but that’s supposed to be the thinking behind knocking on wood. Let’s talk about something easier.

If you have a toothache, go find an oak tree. You can either slice a bit into the bark, put a bit of your hair into the cut and tell the oak tree that you are giving your toothache to it, or you can take an iron nail and rub it around your tooth until your gum starts bleeding, and then hammer the nail into the tree. If you have warts, you are going to need to find an ash tree. Yew trees don’t cure anything.

Twee for five

It seems I forgot about something this week – Fancy Notions’ fifth birthday. This blog is now old enough to do all of the adorable things David Bowie sings and pantomimes about in this video. I certainly hope it doesn’t.

Published in: on March 17, 2013 at 7:17 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Etiquette & superstition: diamonds


I seem to remember from my childhood the idea that it was inappropriate for a lady to wear diamonds until she reached a certain age. What that age was supposed to be, I can’t recall. I can’t find anything in my library of etiquette books about this, and the internets aren’t helping me either. I do know that because of current global labor and political conditions it’s kind of terrible to buy a new diamond without verifying a number of things about its origin, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I want to know the age that you might appropriately wear an heirloom rock without being regarded as a vulgar little trollop. I suppose I will have to keep researching.

ETIQUETTE: When two people have been married for 75 years, they celebrate their diamond anniversary. Because it is a very rare milestone that involves two extremely aged people, there are few dictates about how to celebrate the diamond anniversary. Seriously. You do not tell two people who are at least 90 years old what to eat at their anniversary party or how their invitations are supposed to look. Pretty much the only thing agreed upon by etiquette experts is that if a party is being held, it should be very clearly understood by the attendees that gifts are not to be expected. The reasons are quite practical, of course: there are very few diamond gifts that the average party guest will be able to afford (but maybe a vintage needle for a record player if you’re one of those party guests that simply can’t come empty-handed? A glass cutter?), and what the hell is a 90-year-old going to do with a diamond anyway? Maybe I’ll think differently on that last point when I’m 90. Probably not, though. For the most part, diamonds are not really my thing.

SUPERSTITION: The kind of diamonds that are really my thing are the cursed ones – the Koh-i-Noor, the Black Orlov, the Hope. They’re interesting to me because diamonds are supposed to ward off evil, bring victory and good fortune, and imbue the wearer with courage and strength. Sounds good, but with all those cursed diamonds floating around I’m just not so sure that you can count on a piece of ice being a stable sort of talisman.

And we’re just talking about flawless diamonds here – never mind the flawed ones. Your diamond has red or white or black spots in it? You’re going to lose all your money. Your diamond has flaws in the shape of a crow’s claws? You are going to DIE. No thanks. Give me an eye disease-curing emerald or flying insect repelling garnet any day over a diamond.

Photo by daniel spils on flickr; thanks to The Hairpin for the original cursed gem link
%d bloggers like this: