Sunday, March 06, 2016

H Is For...

Way past due for this post--The Letter H--I know. I'm in such a terrible funk. Were it possible to put me in a coma or some sort of State of Suspended Animation until we had sustained temperatures of at least 60...that would be good. Think of how skinny I'd get! Ah, but that's another Issue altogether.

My Letter I Post! Remind me.

But I digress. Here is my

List Of Random H Things I Shall Be Nattering About

1. Hello!?
2. Harmonica
3. Hydrox Cookies
4. Hassock

1. From time to time people become habituated to their Lives and lose the ability to truly see exactly What's Going On With Themselves. We all do it, and it's Helpful if an outsider gives them a Wake-Up Call. Allow me to provide this valuable Service. HELLO!? Can you check your Calendar, please? We are Officially Into March, and next week we will be entering Daylight Saving Time. This is Lent, and Easter occurs this month. It is well past time to TAKE DOWN ALL OF YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. No, really, we are Not Interested in a single one of your excuses. None will pass muster. All of them Must Go, and At Once. (Yes, I am referring to both the excuses and the decorations.)

2. At the risk of offending anyone, I would not be one bit upset if suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, all Harmonicas disappeared from the universe. Whether it be one by one or together in a mass exodus is immaterial to me, as long as it happens in short order. Harmonicas should have gone the way of the musket rifle and the hoopskirt. Why are they still here? And if the answer is Country Music, I might ask the same question about it as well.

3. It may come as a shock to Cooky Aficionados everywhere, but Hydrox chocolate sandwich cookies were the originals, and Nabisco's Oreos came a full four years later. Hydrox were crispier and crunchier, and they were way less sweet than Oreos. They were the preferred snack of Tuffy, the obese cocker spaniel on E. 38th Street where I grew up, whose owners fed him at least six a day from a metal can next to their sofa. Actually, I ate them from that can as well when I went over there, and so did T.W. and Marge, Tuffy's owners. We were all fat, due in no small part to Hydrox.

4. Every so often, I hear a word that rings a little Linguistic Alert for me, and last week it was Hassock. Growing up, I detested this word and preferred that my parents (especially my father) use the term Footstool or even Ottoman. No one--and I mean NO ONE--among my friends used Hassock. But my father stubbornly used that term to denote any piece of small furniture used as a Footrest. He loved them, actually, and used to bring them home with startling regularity. He especially loved the little, round, padded-top things with a big flat button in the middle of them. He only stopped bringing them home when my brother made him a new footstool in Woodshop class. That may have actually ended the use of Hassock, come to think of it, and ushered in The Footstool Era.

I eagerly await your additions to my H words, or your own H words in Comments. Be the Sunshine Of My Life since NEO refuses to.



  1. Did you finally do this piece when someone told you to go to "H"?

    1. Silliyak--Trust me, no one tells me that around here (unless you count me telling myself).

  2. 1. This year, for the first time in many, there are no Christmas decorations up on any of the houses I drive by. Sorry if that makes you sad, but it can be done. Hadn't thought about this until you wrote about it here.
    2. Ditto what you said.
    3. My grandpa had Hydrox and I remember that I liked them. Whether my young taste buds knew Oreos from Hydrox I can't say, but I do remember them. Related, we didn't have Fig Newtons, we had a competitor called Fig Cookies. They were less sweet than Newtons, but crumbled something terrible.
    4. I've never heard the word hassock, so all that you said is news to me. Did your father refer to antimacassars on the chairs? My grandfather talked about them, especially the ones on which my grandmother crocheted lace.

    1. Ally Bean--On the contrary, it makes me joyous because I AM VINDICATED! IT CAN BE DONE!! Bask in the Righteousness of your neighborhood!

      Fig Cookies are probably the Leaf Bakery generic newtons. I remember those. All jammed together in two or three rows, impossible to pry apart, and the crumbling! Forget it. You wind up with a hard block of fig gummy stuff. Ugh.

      My dad did not use the word Antimacassar, which is a word I adore, by the way. He did love to use small towels as antimacassars, however, and that is another thing which drove me nuts. He and my mother both loved little throw rugs and little doodads all over the place. He especially had a fondness for fans--small electric fans. His favourite one? A fan which doubled as a hassock, and no, I am not making that up.

  3. 1. Our neighbor still has all of his decorations up - but I might take his excuse of having three small children & working three jobs. I'm not sure what his wife's excuse is, but I imagine it involves it being HIS JOB TO PUT THE DAMN DECORATIONS AWAY.
    2. I actually like a nice mournful harmonica, but then I grew up on country music so I'm probably predisposed.
    3. I never liked Hydrox as well as Oreos precisely BECAUSE Oreos are sweeter - ha! In a related story, my dad gave me some Mystery Flavor Peeps (they tasted like nothing), and THEN made me read an article about how sugar is the culprit in the obesity epidemic. Is it any wonder I'm messed up?
    4. I had never heard of the word hassock until I was an adult. They were footstools in our house. And in fact, the first time I heard the word hassock I think I thought the person was talking about Cossacks. I was pretty confused.

    1. Bug--Was your neighbor Childless and Unemployed when he PUT UP the decorations? If not, then again, NO EXCUSE. And unless his Lazy Wife is medically unable, certainly she can gather up said decorations and put them in the garage to be sorted later. NO EXCUSE.

      Don't tell anyone, but I think I am finally Over Peeps. If they didn't have the rather bitter sanding sugar all over them, I'd rethink my position, but on the whole, I'd rather have a plain marshmallow. If I want something very sweet, I will have Nutella or some pie. (But I am trying to quit sweets. Your dad knows why.)

      Honestly, NO ONE used the word Hassock IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE but my family! I spent most of my adult life consciously avoiding all the goofy terms for stuff that I grew up with. Strangely, my students used to say, "You're not from around here, are you? You don't talk like everyone else." Sigh.

  4. 1. One of our neighbors put an artificial tree on his porch at Christmas. Now he seems to be decorating it according to season. We had red streamer, lights and hearts for February. Right now it's all in green trim with shamrocks. I'm fairly certain the Easter eggs will follow. I want to shout every time I walk past the house, "You can't fool me. That's a Christmas tree."
    2. I love harmonica music when played well. The key is "played well." Only instrument more objectionable if not played well would be the recorder. Neither should be given to children under the age of twelve and then only if they started music lessons at age five.
    3. We ate Hydrox cookies when I was a child and we always called them "Sunshine Hydrox." The difference I remember is that they did not twist apart as easily as Oreos. I'm not a cookie purist, but it's just wrong to have all the new flavors of Oreos. Chocolate berry creme Oreos? Seriously?
    4. I always knew what a hassock was, perhaps because I read so much. But I never knew anyone who called them hassocks. It was always ottoman or footstool. In our house it was also called coffee table.

    Got an H word that really sets me off. Hacks. Not in terms of computer hacks. But now so commonly used in terms of "kitchen hacks," "household hacks," "useful hacks for travelers." Ugly word to this former nurse who always thought of hack as a dry cough or a terrible surgeon.

    1. NCmountainwoman--Oh, yes, the Seasonal Tree. Those are quite popular here as well, even Indoors. I share your sentiments entirely regarding them. My mother, whose aversion to taking down our Real Christmas Tree was legendary, probably spawned the entire fad long ago by leaving our tree up for months and months past the Holidays. We would taunt her by hanging colored paper groundhogs, Valentines, and finally shamrocks until she finally took it down.

      Oreos are ruining their legacy by coming out in eleventy billion different flavours. Pumpkin spice, red velvet and the like are faddish and stupid. I am already annoyed by their teensy wee packages for which we have to pay the same big money. Shame on you, Oreos. Bring back Hydrox!

      Oh, our home was The Repository For All Odd Words, much to my chagrin. We used Davenport, Hassock, Supper...and all my friends said Couch, Footstool, and Dinner. I was terminally embarrassed.

      You are in sizable company when it comes to your lament re: Hacks. The list of comments after a Hack Article in Yahoo or anyplace else is largely taken up with people irked that the term Hack is used when Tip or Suggestion would be better. It IS an overused term now, and especially when it already resides in your Medical Lexicon.

  5. Oh, H, Nance I was just sitting here with my feet up on my hassock, eating a few Hydrox cookies while listening to harmonic music when I read your tirade. I was so upset that YOU were upset I couldn't relax so as soon as I finish this comment I intend to begin taking my Christmas Tree down.

    1. Nancy--I hope it is a Fake Tree. If not, do wear gloves. And get out a ShopVac. Your carpet will be a disaster.

      I speak from experience!

  6. Delivering Meals on Wheels, I see a couple of houses with their Christmas lights still up...I wonder if their kids put them up while visiting, and haven't been back since? I don't want my old people getting up on ladders, so it's OK with me. But there's one guy with a COMPLETELY DEAD poinsettia on his porch. It's time for that sucker to go.

    My grandpa used to say Davenport or Chesterfield for sofa, but we didn't have any footstools, so I don't know what he would have called one.

    1. J@jj--Please offer to remove that poinsettia for him. Or just knock it down Accidentally On Purpose and be very apologetic. Just a little extra service you offer for Those Not On Your Route.

      I agree about the Elderly Staying Off Ladders. My grandfather impaled himself on a picket fence once because he insisted on getting the really good pears off the top of the tree. Thankfully, he was largely okay and had a brief hospital stay only. He learned Absolutely Nothing from his misadventure, however, for the next summer found him on a more rickety ladder painting a shed. There was nothing to be done about him.

      I cannot imagine a house without a Footstool or Ottoman. Perhaps it is one replete with Recliners.

    2. How did you guess? Recliners, or a sturdy coffee table, which it was allowed to put feet upon. :)

      I may ask the gentleman with the poinsettia if he'd like me to get rid of it...but he is on my route, and I don't want to embarrass him. I'm always afraid to offend people, but that plant needs to go.

    3. sorry for the misreading. Of course he IS on your route. Now you must try the Accident On Purpose and be charmingly apologetic.

  7. oh, H for Hell. Cuz in my family, "hassock" was the ONLY word I knew for that piece of furniture. Never called it anything else. Later in life I heard people use the term foot stool, which I always thought was something you stood on to reach something higher up.


    You. Are. Not. Alone.

    Family linguistic background, if it matters: Mother from Michigan, but raised mostly in the northeast (military brat). Dad was born and raised in California. (P.S. - Our hassock looked pretty much like this: )

    1. Ortizzle--Was your mother from Meeshigan or MishiKan? St Patsy says the latter, and it physically hurts my ears. I notice that particular pronunciation from lots of television newscasters and I cringe/wince each time. UGH. Why is it so hard to speak properly?

      We had SO MANY HASSOCKS that I cannot begin to enumerate them, but since we had a Largely Early American Living Room (another ugh), most were the dreaded Avocado Green. But the big flat button in the middle with pie-shaped wedges radiating from it. Imagine that in brown and beige/stone too. Over and over again. Lordy.

    2. Oh, heck, Nance. Have not heard my mother's voice for 15 years, but, um, I am pretty sure she used to say 'MISH-uh-g'n'. Last syllable very clipped. Definitely not "meesh" at the beginning or with the 'k' sound at the end. I used to laugh at my Dad's pronunciation of 'measure' and 'treasure' which he pronounced 'MAY-zhur' and 'TRAY-zhur'. I think that's a California thing, though.

    3. Ortizzle--Not strictly a Cali thing. St. Patsy has never even stepped foot on the edge of California, and she and her fam have always said TRAYsure and MAYsure. She calls it her Pennsylvania Dutch accent. She also says QUAT (rhymes with flat) for QUIET. It's a wonder any of us can speak English correctly at all.

  8. 1. The Brits don't get too wacky about Christmas decorating, at least not around here. In our neighborhood of Edwardian terraced houses with bay windows, everyone puts their tree in the bay window and leaves the drapes open and that got to count as both indoor and outdoor decorating, which we found convenient. A couple people had some lights in the front gardens, but that was it. We put up a wreath and (I admit) I was the last one to take mine down (3rd week in January) but dammit, it was a real wreath and it was still green!
    2. If a harmonica is played well, I don't mind it, but I love blues music, so maybe that's why.
    3. I never even heard of Hydrox until I was well into adulthood and assumed that they were some sort of a generic (like 'marshmallow mateys' instead of 'Lucky charms'.) Of course, I rarely saw an Oreo growing up either, since they were difficult to come by in Asia. I have been gone just long enough that I am constantly stunned by all the different kinds they have now. I had no idea they came in Pumpkin Spice flavour.
    4. Hassock - I have no idea what we called them growing up - I'm not even sure we had one, although I vaguely recall a red leather one - maybe my grandparents? I am pretty sure we would have said 'footstool' but maybe my grandparents would have said 'hassock' - maybe it's a generational thing? Here in the UK they refer to the round fabric ones as 'pouffes.' Do they say this in the US now, too? I am no longer sure of anything. Nana also referred to the piece of furniture in the dining room as the 'credenza' which my own mother called a 'buffet' and which I call a 'sideboard.'

    1. MsCaroline--
      1. Oh dear. Was the bright red ribbon still on it? I'm afraid you are Part Of The Problem.
      2. I am unable to grasp the allure of The Blues as well. I can appreciate some of it, but largely, it feels cacophonous to me, as does lots of Improv music.
      3. Do Google Oreo flavours and prepare to be Completely Stunned. And Disappointed. (And I thought Hydrox were cheapo Oreo Knockoffs too.)
      4. Pouffes are the New Term for sort of beanbag footstools, the Casual Millennial Footstool/Ottoman. Target is full of them. Re: Nana's credenza--Oh, you mean The Breakfront?

    2. Breakfront? I've never heard of that. I have heard 'credenza', though. Funny all of these different terms.

  9. My first comment seems to have flown away to bit and byte heaven. And that is an 'H' word I could do without. There are some, though, that I love. Haven, for instance. What a difference and 'e' makes, hmm?
    My Xmas stuff is down, mostly because it never went up, but I still have a few cards to send.
    Hydrox? Love to try.

    1. Mary G--I gave up Xmas cards ages ago. St Patsy still does them, and even I get one. Makes me laugh.

      Hydrox are back after a long Oreo-induced hiatus. Originally a Sunshine Bakery product, they are now a Leaf Bakery item. Same recipe, though. Not sure of their availability in Lovely Canada. Or here, either, since I have not seen them locally. If I find them, I'll let you know and perhaps a small CARE package can be arranged!


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...