Sir Cough, a guy

I seem to be way behind in posting vacation photos. We’re already in Memphis, and have passed through Cairo and Little Egypt and I can’t remember what else and I still haven’t shared my photos of all those mysterious fiberglas tombs we found all stacked up together.



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Published in: on September 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A little dairy air

There’s a war going on for my milk money on the north 200 block of Glendale Boulevard. How am I going to choose between Silvia’s Market and Simon’s 98 Cent Store? They are within spitting distance from one another, and despite Simon’s boasting I can’t imagine their prices are much different. There’s only one way to resolve this. I’m going to judge these books by their covers.

So, Silvia:

silviaand Simon:

Call me crazy, but I think I’m going with Simon.

Published in: on November 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm  Comments (4)  
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Etiquette & superstition: May Day

Did you know that the distress call “mayday” comes from the French phrase “venez m’aider,” or “come to my aid”? I didn’t know that until today. My high school French teacher Madame Goff always told us we were supposed to say, “Au secours!” if we needed help in an emergency. That’s about all I remember her teaching us besides, “Taissez-vous!” I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Madame Goff.

ETIQUETTE: The first of May is known in Gaelic and Pagan cultures as the Cross-Quarter Day of Beltane; it’s a celebration of the greening of the earth. In honor of the greening of the earth, you should light a big bonfire. If you’re in an area where a big bonfire will only create a blackening of the earth rather than a greening of the earth, maybe you should forget about Beltane and think about the first of May as May Day instead.

One of the most enduring traditions of May Day is the practice of dancing around the maypole. Folklorists argue about whether the maypole is a phallic potency symbol or merely a symbol of more general life and growth, but we’re not going to discuss that now. Let’s just get into the proper behavior around that symbol.

The dancers should arrange themselves boy-girl-boy-girl in a circle around the maypole, with each dancer holding a ribbon that is attached on the other end to the top of the maypole. One gender positions itself to revolve around the maypole clockwise, and the other gender faces counter-clockwise. For my purposes here, I’m going to say the boys are clockwise and the girls are counter-clockwise, but I cannot find any information indicating that it matters either way. The boys and girls then circle around, weaving in and out of each other in a regular pattern. In-out-in-out-in-out. There is going to have to be a bit of cooperation to get this rhythm, as you don’t want the dancers both going out at the same time and bonking each other in the head or getting all tangled up. Maybe it’s a good idea to agree that the boys start on the outside and the girls start on the inside. Again, if you want to start the girls on the outside and the boys on the inside, I can find no evidence that this is improper. You just have to choose one way or another to get this damned thing done in a halfway decent manner.

If all this weaving business is just too complicated for the dancers at hand, just announce that it is time for traditional Swedish maypole dancing; at that point, all the dancers need to do is pretend they’re frogs or that they’re doing the laundry.

SUPERSTITION: It’s May Day at the dairy farm, people. What are you doing dancing around that maypole like a bunch of damned fools? We have work to do.

Harris, did you singe the cattle with the straw last night to keep away the evil spirits? Good job, Harris.

Eburscon, go out to the singed cattle and kill any rabbits that you might see. As we all know, those rabbits are really witches trying to get at the milk. Put some pieces of rowan on the door of the barn as well. Those darn witches.

Lavinia, let’s hurry it up with getting those cow’s tail hairs into the boiling herbs you gathered this morning. All this rabbit-killing is for naught if we don’t have good butter at the end. Remember Betty Botter and all her problems, Lavinia. And you know what? Get some of that rowan and put it around the handle of the butter churn to keep the witches from stealing all our good butter once you’re done.

What’s that, Myfanwy? You have some hawthorn blossoms for us? Well, aren’t you a dear? I know I’m not supposed to give away milk on May Day, but you deserve a bit of cream for that hawthorn there.

Okay, everybody’s done? Well then, I guess you can go dance around that old maypole then. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Original photographer unknown; image uploaded to Flickr by Paul Townsend

Etiquette & superstition: trout


Those are not trout peeking out of that stargazy pie. Those are pilchards. Respect Cornish tradition, people.

ETIQUETTE: Sometimes a cooked trout will be served to you at the dinner table with its head and tail intact. Do not be alarmed, unless the fish is facing to the right on your plate. To quote Judith Martin (Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, New York: Athenum, 1982), “To eat a whole fish that is facing to the right is disgusting and vulgar.”

SUPERSTITION: It seems I have already covered the “if you have worms, bandage a live trout to your butt” tip in a previous post, as well as the most common trout-related cure for whooping cough. However, there are some other trout-related whooping cough remedies that may be tried depending on your level of squeamishness. If you do not wish to put a live trout into the mouth of the afflicted, you may simply let the trout swim in some milk and then make the sufferer drink the milk. If you do not feel that remedy to be dramatic enough, you may alternately take a pie dish full of cider to the river, catch a trout and drown it in the cider. Then all you do is cook up the fish and make the ailing person eat the fish along with all of the death-cider. Easy as pie.

Photo by goodiesfirst on Flickr

Etiquette & superstition: eating with ferrets

According to the Urban Dictionary, “milking the ferret” means to masturbate in a spirited and vigorous manner. Today’s etiquette/superstition post has to do with milk and ferrets, but nothing to do with masturbation. Probably.

ETIQUETTE: (Adapted from a tip found on You may find that you and your ferret have been invited to a ferret birthday party. What a great idea! Ferrets love parties. But what do you do during cake and ice cream time? When you’re at home, you share everything with your ferret, especially cake and ice cream. But don’t share human food with your ferret at a party. Other ferrets will want some, too, which could result in vicious weasel war dancing. If this is a real ferret party, the ferrets will get their own special cake and ice cream.

SUPERSTITION: Drinking the leftovers from a saucer of milk partially drunk by a ferret is an excellent cure for whooping cough.

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