I am addicted to thrift shops. Something draws me into one every few days. Fun? Hobby? Shopping trip? All of these. And could it be because as a young person I wanted to be an archaeologist? In thrift stores there is always the chance of an exciting find!
That is not the only thought I have as I make my rounds in one of these temples of thrift. Here are some:
This is a museum of wares once valued.
New items still in boxes. Christmas gifts that missed their mark?
Who could ever have worn jeans this size? This tasteless sweater?
Oh, I wonder if I need one of these in my kitchen? At this price I wouldn’t lose much if it were a mistake.
Here’s a book I donated, still here. I guess no one else liked it, either.
All these coffeepots! Everyone must have bought Keurigs.
Aha! I knew there’d be a find if I went around again. What a deal!
And last, a pleasant chat with staff ends the experience on a social note.
This is the first of what will be occasional comments on the words of others.Today Isak Dinesen speaks to us and inspires my remarks. She said or wrote,”The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears or the sea.”
I’ve known people who in times of stress go out for a long walk, dig in the garden, or build a rock wall. As for me, during a difficult time I painted a shed. Sweating out hard work may take the edge off stress by allowing us to refocus, step back and gain perspective.
Tears of course may be the first response to grief or sadness. Even hearing certain meaningful music,seeing a sad film, or reading a moving book may bring those tears to the surface. Maybe this is a referred response to something in our own lives and thereby therapeutic. (By the way, if you think it’s time to stop crying, an effective method is to watch yourself in the mirror.)
I wonder if everyone could find peace and calm by the sea. I do. There it goes, wave after wave, tide in, tide out, giving proportion to our little place in Nature. Whatever happens, whatever I do, the sea rolls on into infinity.
I have borrowed the name of a cookie recipe as the title of the anecdotes I am about to share. Sometimes a tiny event touches me in such a way that I remember it for long, and can recapture its sweetness. Here are three such events. A small boy received his 4th-birthday gifts in a family gathering. He was led outside, where a sandbox his father had made waited for him. His excitement and joy were evident. Did he say thank you? No; he found far more meaningful and sincere words. He looked up and said, “When I grow up I will make a sandbox like this for my son!” On another note, and two generations earlier, another little boy habitually rose early and went out to play in the front yard. His mother one day said, (remember this was long ago—it likely wouldn’t now be an issue) “Son, it’s not really good to go outside in your pajamas.” Maybe you foresee the result. Next morning his mother came downstairs to find the pajamas carefully laid out on the living room floor, and the child outdoors in the altogether. I have the privilege of being related to both of these protagonists. This last episode still delights me though it came about through a chance encounter. The beauty shop I patronized was operated by a Chinese woman, who through necessity brought her two-year-old son to work. One day I arrived to find that instead of playing in the back of the shop, the little boy was standing at the door. As I entered, he executed a perfect little bow. I was charmed then, and will always be so by this memory.
Snowbound for a couple of days, I’ve had lots of time to think up examplesof the tendency of present-day English to collapse words. We English speakers have shortened a number of polysyllabic words, and in many cases the short form has completely replaced the original form. How often do you hear anyone say “Let’s go to the zoological gardens”? Do you go to the gymnasium to work out?
Because ‘permanent wave’ became ‘permanent’ and then ‘perm’, the young shopkeepers in Delaware sharing the same premises could call her beauty shop and his fishing supply store ‘Perms and Worms’.
Here are some examples, some of which have lost a first syllable and some of which the first syllable or two is all that remains: Amp/lifier; Fed/eral worker; Math/ematics; Decal/comania; Condo/minium; Ham/burger; Frank/furter; Tech/nician; Lab/oratory; Lab/rador retriever; Air/plane;
Tele/phone; Math/ematics; A/cute. The meaning of this last word has morphed without the A. A tot somewhere may have done or said something clever, smart, or acute. “Wasn’t he ‘cute?” And there you have a new word.
A favorite instance is Omni/bus/ carrus. Latin for ‘carriage for all’. Having dropped first the ‘carriage’ and then the ‘all’, we now hurry to the corner to catch the next ‘for’.
P.S. Some problems on the site, a work in progress. Watch this space. Thanks for your patience