Red Sky In Morning . . . .

My grandmother had a poetic saying for every occasion.  UJ and I spent a lot of time with her during our childhood, and heard every one of her sayings multiple times.  They’ve become part of my permanent mental landscape and simply pop into my head, unbidden, from time to time.

Like when I saw this morning’s sunrise, shown above, with its striking red sky.  It immediately made me think of one of Grandma’s weather-related favorites:

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight,

Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.

To my knowledge Grandma never lived in a coastal community.  She didn’t have any close friends or relatives who were mariners, and I don’t remember her telling us any stories about receiving instruction from a grizzled sailor about his rules of thumb on the weather.  She may have been on a boat once in a while on her travels, but being on the open water wasn’t a regular part of her life in land-locked Akron, Ohio. 

Nevertheless, as a kid I believed that Grandma knew what she was talking about.  But these days I’m not so sure.  This morning the lobster fleet chugged out of port as it always does, without batting an eye about that red sunrise.  And my weather app indicates its going to be sunny today, with a high in the mid-70s.  Could Grandma have been wrong?

Or maybe the warning to sailors was about sunburns.

Lion/Lamb

My grandmother used to say that the month of March would come “in like a lamb and out like a lion” or, alternatively, come “in like a lion and out like a lamb.”

clements-20181003-lion-and-lambThe idea was that you could predict the end of March — unpredictable, blustery, weird, perverse March — by looking at the weather at the beginning of the month.  If it was cold and dismal when the calendar page turned to March, you could count on a nice end to the month; but if it was warm and pleasant on March 1, March was certain to jump up and bite you in the behind with some crappy, cold, snowy, “oh-no-will-spring-never-get here?” weather come March 31.

This March 1 morning it was a very brisk 22 degrees, with a stiff breeze driving down the wind chill even lower, when I took Betty for a walk.  I’d say by any measure that means that March has come in like a roaring lion, and we can look forward to some warm, meek, lamb-like spring weather in a few weeks.

The lamb/lion issue raises the issue of your choice.  After the traditionally dismal, gray month of February, would you rather get a respite from the gloomy chill with a brief period of warm weather come March 1, knowing that you will inevitably be hammered with some more cold weather in the near future, or would you rather batten down the hatches, deal with the ongoing cold on March 1, and feel warmed by the prospect that spring will be here to stay in short order?

Me, I’m a lion/lamb kind of person, rather than a lamb/lion type.  Of course, that’s assuming that my grandmother was right in her saying.  I feel confident that that is so, because grandmothers are never wrong.

The Family Silver

Back in the ’60s, many suburban homes had a silver set proudly displayed in the dining room.  Our mothers had them and our grandmothers had them; they were in our friends’ houses and glimpsed in the dining room scenes on TV sitcoms.

IMG_3767The family silver sets were a tangible sign of success and a mark of class.  In an era when people might be invited over, in coats and ties and cocktail dresses, for a fancy sit-down dinner, silver place settings and coffee pots might be used occasionally.  And you always got the sense that your mother and grandmothers wanted to be ready in case the Queen of England unexpectedly dropped by for tea.

Over the years, our mothers inherited the family silver from our grandmothers, and now our mothers have no use for them any longer.  So, our generation stores these ornate, scrolled, increasingly tarnished objects, but nobody uses them.  I’ve never been served from a silver teapot or dish, or eaten with a silver spoon.  No surprise there — silver is a pain to keep polished and probably gives food and drink a slight metallic tang, besides.  I can’t imagine any of our friends serving high tea or inviting us for a formal meal with fine china and silver utensils.

So, what to do with this stuff?  Kish did some did some digging and found that these once-treasured objects are not really worth much.  No one is buying silver tea sets, so there is no resale market.  If it’s sterling silver, it can be sold and melted down.  And if it’s silver plate?  Well, one woman Kish talked to said if there were little girls in the family they could use it to make their tea time play more realistic.

Imagine . . . from a prominently displayed source of family pride to little more than a kid’s plaything, in the course of one generation.  What does that tell you about putting too much stock in material items?

Our “Feisty” President

President Obama has been on the road lately, encouraging people to support the “jobs bill” that he proposed in his recent speech to a joint session of Congress.  Many of the news stories reporting on the President’s speech refer to him as “feisty” — see here and here, for example.  “Feisty” seems like a curious word choice under the circumstances.

“Feisty” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s to mean “full of nervous energy” or “fidgety,” “touchy” or “quarrelsome,” or “exuberantly frisky.”  Other sources define the word to mean “plucky” or “spunky.”  It is roughly synonymous with “cantankerous.”  There’s a reason why “feisty” is typically used to describe the unpredictably outspoken, motorcycle-riding grandmother who foiled a robbery or has engaged in some kind of angry letter-writing campaign to a local business.

Isn’t “feisty” an odd and somewhat dismissive word to use to describe the Leader of the Free World and the most powerful nation on Earth when he is out campaigning for his proposal?  I doubt that President Obama would want to be characterized as fidgety, touchy, quarrelsome, or spunky — it really doesn’t add to his political street cred to be equated with plucky octogenarians.