Going to the Dogs. And other such sayings…

Knock on wood. Why? How come we need to do that?

I was updating our online menu page (bumped up the priorities list to the point it finally got completed!) and saw a previous blog headline, in which I implored myself to “knock on wood.” It seemed appropriate at the time.

While moving some books around this afternoon, I came across a little volume entitled “Heavens to Betsy!” (which is a whole ‘nother story…) and I looked in the index. Sure enough, “knock on wood’ is listed among the “400 Colorful Words – and Their Origins” in the book.

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Apparently, I’m not the only one curious about the origin of the superstition, but – according to the author – the exact beginning of the phrase has been lost to time. He quotes a similar book from 1946 in which the writer attributes it to an old game called “Touching Wood” or “Wood Tag.”

I’m old enough that I remember playing outside games. And I seem to recall one in which we raced around wildly trying to get from point-A to point-B while whoever was “It” chased us. If you touched a tree or a porch railing – something made of wood – you were safe, and could dart away again when “It” went after someone else.

Remember, we didn’t have video games back then. We chased each other around. Get over it.

At any rate, the 1946 author seemed to think that whole thing dated clear back to the old, Old Days, when people believed that there were tree spirits that could keep people safe. (What? Tree Spirits aren’t Real?) He also suggests that it could have something to do with the original wooden Cross and taking an oath on a crucifix.

This is how work in the book shop tends to be put off – reading one tiny paragraph in a book leads to another, and the next thing you know, a half hour is gone.

I was trying to put the little “Heavens to Betsy” book down and spotted a phrase that made me immediately think of my dear grandmother, who exclaimed with exasperation, “For Crying in a Bucket!” when she was put out by something.

The book says Granny was doing a turn on “For Crying out Loud!” which is called a ‘minced oath,’ which many of us are guilty of professing on occasion – like saying “Shoot!” instead of that four-letter expletive that is the originating profanity. These days many things that never would have been said aloud are spoken with reckless abandon, including “For Christ’s Sake!” – which waaaay back when was lumped in with those other words and phrases never said publicly or in mixed company, for cryin’ out loud.

This I recognize from Charles Dickens novels in which even such phrases as “By G–!” are dashed instead of put forward uncensored, to avoid offending the dear reader, who might become so astonished as to grumble:

For Crying in a Bucket!

Cross your fingers, Knock on wood.

It’s got to be a sign of the impending Apocalypse! WHAT?

As an admitted Shadetree Mechanic, I have tackled projects from refrigerator thermostats to British sports car rod-bearing replacement. Some projects turn out better than others but almost all provide examples of my own version of Murphy’s Law.

For instance:

If it is connected with plastic, it will break.
A dropped small object will bounce to a point just out of reach.
It is always the ‘other’ type of screwdriver required.
The importance of leftover parts will only be discovered when reassembly is complete.
Custom fittings will not fit.

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I have enough of these to be called a manifesto, but you get the idea. That’s why I am currently astonished.

I bought a new car radio to replace the one my business partner had installed for me 17 years ago.

You need a CD player, he said. Cassettes are out. CDs are the thing of the future.

It’s a nice Sony, professionally installed, and I haven’t played a CD in over a decade. So my project for tomorrow is to install a replacement to stream music from my phone. (Am I on the cutting edge, or what?)

I Googled YouTube for hints on how to get that old one out. This is now my favorite all-time ‘how-to’ video:

(It gets better and better as it goes along. Spoiler: he says ‘thin.’ I thought his advice stated the tools must be made of ‘tin,’ and that he was failing to follow his own instructions.)

After watching him struggle with it (assuming there were numerous outtakes that didn’t make the internet), I was prepared to head off to Best Buy to find the correct radio removal tool. But I had a few extra minutes, and…

The face plate popped right off, of course, but the thin plastic border piece that I knew was going to break… didn’t. Instead of jamming steak knives into my car dash, I wiggled a couple of exposed prongs… and the radio slid right out. The big plastic dash board facing – installed 17 years ago – for the smaller sized Sony radio… of course it was going to crack and break under my prying screwdriver.

It didn’t.

The wires were long enough that I could pull the entire radio free and reach the harness. Which unplugged with the least effort imaginable. The antenna wire already had the correct end piece for the new radio. My aftermarket harness adapter (purchased separately) actually fit and the wire colors matched correctly.

I’m admitting to you right here – that at each stage – I said aloud: UNBELIEVABLE! Or INCREDIBLE! Or some similar form of spoken astonishment.

The radio and all parts of the fascia were out and sitting on the passenger seat in less than four minutes. I usually spend that length of time looking for my needle-nose or trying to prop up the flashlight so I can see the plastic I’m about to break.

So rare when paid-forward Karma comes back all at once. So rare, in fact, that I’m worried about how tomorrow’s installation will go.

Extremely worried.

But at least I’ve got YouTube to turn to…

Magnanimous Magazine.

Mystery solved. At least partly.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve had comments about our “ad” or “article” from folks who have come in for lunch.

Huh?

Today, the gentleman making the reference trotted out to his car and grabbed his copy of the magazine, which he had brought as a guide to our location. Wow! A full-page article, complete with photographs, hours, phone number, and website address.

reviewVintageMagNov2017

Not only that, but it was a nicely written, flattering article, that was pleasing enough to me that I read it twice.

Lindsay Morris is the author, and I owe a debt of gratitude for the kind press, however surreptitiously researched. Guerilla journalism, in a way, because – you would assume that someone would be noticed as they moved about a shop taking pictures.

Not the case.

In the immortal words of Sgt. Schultz (Hogan’s Heroes, Google it…) “I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!” Granted, the photographs were taken during the lunch hour, when I was more than likely trotting around from table to table, old man style.

Reading the article, I did recall a brief exchange with a lunch guest – specifically, a book title mentioned in the article and the specifics of a shepherd’s pie presentation. Didn’t know I was being interviewed for a magazine article though.

vintageMagJan2018

Having done a number of Q and A sessions (on both sides of the reporter’s notepad), I’m guessing that was among the most painless ever, with about as pleasing a result as could be expected.

Obviously, the magazine has a readership, since it has been mentioned here in the shop several times already, with its January 2018 date.

Our thanks to the author and editors for honoring us with an inclusion!