Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sleepless in Blogland

Bless you, dear readers, for your comments and support. Smartmom feels so much better having gotten her Persnickety situation off her ample chest (though she has nothing on Mrs. Cleavage in that department). In her comments, Mrs. Kravitz offered tantalizing crumbs about Persnickety and wife's rather noisy hallway behavior. She should know, as she is their downstair's neighbor. Smartmom is on tenterhooks (see definition below) to hear more. But for that, she'll have to be patient until the roll-out of "Mrs. Kravitz Knows," Mrs. Kravitz's planned tell-all blog. Mrs. Kravitz, by the way, has much on her plate this Autumn. In addition to planning a vigil at OLD FIRST CHURCH protesting the atrocities in the Sudan, she has also been organizing activities at THE CHILDREN'S SCHOOL, the school her kids, Dynamic Blonde Duo, attend. A talented graphic designer, she is also looking for freelance design work on the web or off. If you have any leads, you can send them to Smartmom, who is, as you all know, a networking fool.

At drop-off this morning, Smartmom had a long chat with Former Upstairs Neighbor One on the steps in front of PS 321. It seems that all is going well with the newest member and their older child is adjusting well. Former Upstairs Neighbor One recommends THE SURREAL CAFE, as the next best thing since ORGANICA, Seventh Avenue's now defunct organic sandwich bar. So, check it out readers. It's on Fifth Avenue and St. Marks.

At the office, Smartmom tried to stay on track with her latest well-paying, but slightly boring writing assignment for Small Busy Company. There was other work to attend to as well. She and Grammatical Genuis put the finishing touches on "The Link" and got it ready for the printer. Today's playlist included all of Smartmom's latest musical discoveries: The Walk Men, Nina Natasia, and Lorraine Hunt singing Handel. As for rediscoveries: Smartmom thinks Joni Mitchell's "Ladies of the Canyon" holds up bigtime after all these years.

Alas, Smartmom misses the in-office companionship of Real Fruit Jelly, her wonderful friend, office mate, and partner on "The Link." Real Fruit Jelly hasn't been in their basement lair much lately due to serious back trouble and the heart-wrenching process of phasing her daughter into pre-school (been there, done that). Smartmom is waiting for a full report about Real Fruit Jelly's recent trip to Philadelphia for the VOTE FOR CHANGE concert with Bruce Springsteen, REM, and John Fogerty. Real Fruit Jelly, a major Springsteen fan, has been known to travel great distances to see The Boss. And even greater distances in the fight to defeat GEORGE W. BUSH on November 2nd.

Writers and Drinkers, Smartmom's writer's group, has been cancelled this week because various members, Smartmom included, are opting to watch the Vice Presidential fireworks on Tuesday night (tune in to the pundits of your choice at 9 p.m. -- Smartmom is with Ernie, otherwise known as Mark Shields on PBS). The debate promises to be a pretty interesting shouting match between dirt-slinging Chaney and skilled litigator, Edwards. In the day's emails between various members of Writers and Drinkers, the following non-sequiters were tossed about, gems from last Thursday's battle of words "You forgot about Poland." and "I know what war is like. I watch it on the television too." Always glad to welcome new malapropisms into the vernacular.

Smartmom had a latte at the charming REGULAR CAFE on 11th Street between Fifth and Fourth Avenue to kill time before therapy. The tiny Parisian-style cafe is a life saver, as Smartmom hates to arrive early to therapy as her therapist is often late. Waiting in his waiting area seems to trigger attacks of anxiety. Guess it's a good thing she's in therapy...

Fifth Avenue is a bounty for Bargain shoppers! On the walk home, Smartmom purhased three Old Navy shirts for ten bucks from one of the discount clothing shops. Smartmom also stopped into that weird clothing store on Ninth Street next to C-TOWN, where she regularly buys skirts for $14.99. These revelations about Smartmom's shopping habits probably provide a telling picture of her thrifty approach to fashion. Hopefully, it's not too obvious...

Homework went remarkably well to Smartmom's great pleasure. The Homework Desk seems to be working its magical powers on OSFO and Teen Spirit. Dinner was steak, couscous and salad prepared by Smartmom and Hepcat together in the kitchen -- trying to stay out of eachother's way. Baths for the kids followed seamlessly. Teen Spirit and Hepcat joined Smartmom and OSFO for a cozy reading of the final chapter of "The Grim Grotto." OSFO and Smartmom dozed off soon after.

When Hepcat crawled into bed at 3 am, after a long night slaving over a hot computer, he disturbed Smartmom's beauty rest inadvertantly sending her into the dining room to write this post. Smartmom's sleep loss is your gain, dear reader, your gain.

Many Thanks to Hepcat for e-mailing Smartmom the correct way to spell tenter hooks. He may be the only person in Brooklyn who has actually used a tenter hook. He also sent along a definition and a derivation of the word that he found on the net:

It’s been so long since anyone has seen either a tenter, or the hooks on one, that the word and the idea behind it are now quite mysterious, so much so that it sometimes appears as on tenderhooks, which sounds as though it ought to make more sense. But at one time, the phrase on tenterhooks would have evoked an image that was immediately understandable.

It comes from one of the processes of making woollen cloth. After it had been woven, the cloth still contained oil from the fleece, mixed with dirt. It was cleaned in a fulling mill, but then it had to be dried carefully or it would shrink and crease. So the lengths of wet cloth were stretched on wooden frames, and left out in the open for some time. This allowed them to dry and straightened their weave. These frames were the tenters, and the tenter hooks were the metal hooks used to fix the cloth to the frame. At one time, it would have been common in manufacturing areas to see fields full of these frames (older English maps sometimes marked an area as a tenter-field). So it was not a huge leap of the imagination to think of somebody on tenterhooks as being in an state of anxious suspense, stretched like the cloth on the tenter. The tenters have gone, but the meaning has survived.

Tenter comes from the Latin tendere, to stretch, via a French intermediate. The word has been in the language since the fourteenth century, and on tenters soon after became a phrase meaning painful anxiety. The exact phrase on tenterhooks seems first to have been used by Tobias Smollett in Roderick Random in 1748.

















2 Comments:

At 5:04 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

sorry mr. Tenter hooks kept you up last night, but enjoyed your insomniactical reveries. GA

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger brooklynfox said...

SM, Thanks for including me in your blog. I'm please by context of my appearance. Miss your companionship too. Thanks. RFJ

 

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