About books, movies, cooking, and advice
Decorating, shopping, and finding the best price
Life, love and raising kids
Along with do-hickeys, what-cha-ma-call-its, and thing-a-ma-jigs
We’re just two Texas girls
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!


Is a nail only dead if it’s in a door? Since a jaybird has feathers, how can it be naked, and, is a lark always happy? We’ve grown up hearing and speaking these idioms, but what do they mean?

First, let’s define idioms. According to, they are the characteristic vocabulary or usage of a specific human group or subject. So, each country and region have their own idioms. In the US there are more than 25,000. I figure the south will claim a fair amount of those!

In book three of the Sweet Thangs Mystery series, Pretty Bows and Turned Up Toes, Sheriff Dan McAlister describes the body of Jay Roy Hobbs as dead as a doornail, nekked as a jaybird, and looking happy as a lark! Long after writing that, I decided to find out what those old-time sayings meant. You may be surprised by some. I was.

forged nails letters – old rusty bent nails in shape of letters, isolated on white

Dead as a doornail

One explanation is that back in the day, doors were built using only wooden boards and hand-forged nails. They needed to be long enough to attach vertical and horizontal wooden panels together so they wouldn’t pull apart. The nail was pounded in and bent-over which made it difficult to pull out. The technique was known as dead nailing—thus dead as a doornail.

Naked as a jaybird

In the 1920s and 30s, upon arrival, new prisoners went straight to the showers and then walked from there to their cell, naked. J-bird was slang for jail-bird. And all this time, I thought we were talking about a bird without feathers!

Illustration of a Cute Nightingale Belting Out Notes

Happy as a lark

Okay, this one was exactly what I thought. The lark sings a lovely melody which makes it sound mighty happy.

Crazy as a loon

Even though, the bird is known to have a haunting cry which is compared to the howls of the insane. The second theory I found for this idiom makes more sense to me.  It’s short for lunatic.

This next one is what got me to wondering about idioms in the first place. As I turned onto a street, there was a bucket in the road. I thought, someone needs to kick that out of the way. What? No. No one should kick the bucket! I couldn’t help but wonder why we say that. Why would kicking a bucket have anything do with dying? Maybe I’m the only one in the world who didn’t know. But, now that I do, it makes sense.

A boy kicking the pail on a white background

Kick the bucket

A common theory is that it refers to hanging…execution or suicide. You stand on a bucket and the pail is kicked away for the noose to do its job. Another theory is that a goat, after milking, may kick the bucket and spill the goods creating a ‘bad ending.’ The origin of the phrase might also refer to a Catholic custom of using holy-water buckets to sprinkle the blessing upon a deceased.

Well, that’s five I’ve grown up hearing. That leaves 24,995 more to check out! Let’s take a look at those Susan comes up with.

Susan: I grew up hearing all these sayings and more. I thought everyone knew what they meant. But sometimes I come across people who’ve never heard of them and give me a strange look. Most of the ones I’ve shared today are pretty explanatory.

I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw him

You couldn’t pick up someone and throw them very far, so you’d put very little trust in what they say. I always imagine someone trying to throw someone much bigger than they are.

So dry I’m spittin’ cotton

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Especially when you’ve been out in the Texas sun during June, July or August. If you have, you know what I mean.

Got to get back to my rat killing

You use this phrase to end a conversation with someone when you’ve got to get back to whatever it is you were doing when you ran into them in the first place. I used this phrase one time in a conversation with a writer friend from up north and he didn’t know what the heck I meant.

I didn’t just fall off the (turnip, tater, watermelon truck)

In other words, I’m not naive. I know you’re trying to fool me, and I’m not falling for it.

This ain’t my first rodeo

Don’t be giving me advice. I’ve been in this situation before. I can handle it.

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

 Hang out with the wrong crowd and you’ll end up in trouble.

I love idioms. I think they make a conversation so much more colorful. Especially when you can picture them.

Tell us some of your favorites. Leave them in the comments.

Find out more about Ann Everett/Emma Ames:

Some images purchased from Deposit Photos. Nails taken by: @Tamara_k, singing bird taken by: @lenmdp, kicking the bucket taken by: @blueringmedia


About books, movies, cooking, and advice
Decorating, shopping, and finding the best price
Life, love and raising kids
Along with do-hickeys, what-cha-ma-call-its, and thing-a-ma-jigs
We’re just two Texas gals
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!

Since, we, the Gabbin’ gals are writers, we have to mention some of the book/reading related holidays coming up this week. We’ve included links and a little bit of gab for you to check out!

April 21, 2020
National Library Day

April 22, 2020
National Bookmobile Day

Susan shares memories of what the bookmobile meant to her as a child.

I’ll never forget my childhood visits to the bookmobile. Dispatched every other week from the central library in downtown San Antonio, Texas, the unassuming airstream trailer sat at the local shopping center for the day. Inside, books filled floor to ceiling shelves. An attendant sat at a small table on one end, reading, of course.

The place beckoned me with as much excitement and anticipation as a picnic or a day at the pool because it represented adventure, escape, and fantasy.

I journeyed far away from that little trailer sitting in the parking lot under the hot Texas sun. My travels took me far north, sledding down an icy hill, building a snowman, or making snow angels. I sailed to tropical islands, ate pineapple, and slept in a hammock. I rode across the plains in a Conestoga Wagon and hunted buffalo with the Indians. Met King Arthur and Excalibur. But my favorite childhood trips were the ones where I visited magical places that only existed in the author’s dreams.

Those days are long gone, but I’ve never stopped experiencing that rush of excitement I get when I pick up a book and start a new journey.

April 23, 2020
World Book Night

April 25, 2020
Eeyore’s Birthday!

This one we just had to gab about!

Eeyore’s Birthday Party, Austin, Texas. Eeyore turns 57!! It’s a fun-filled day for kids, benefitting non-profits, but what we found interesting was in the FAQ section where one of the inquires was: Can I go Topless?


Well, you may be surprised by the answer:
Yes. Texas is one of 36 states that does not forbid toplessness. Austin also doesn’t disallow it. Many attendees choose to paint their breasts in celebration of Eeyore’s birthday. You might be inspired to the do the same. We offer face painting at the event if you find your painting skills are lacking. We also sell pasties for those of us that are more modest.

Check out last year’s photos here:

Eeyore is a character in the Winnie-the-Pooh book series, written by A. A. Milne. He is characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, old gray donkey who suffers from anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure.

So, Susan, would you go topless at Eeyore’s birthday? Or choose the more modest route of pasties?

Susan: I don’t know about you, but I have to wonder about someone sending a query whether or not they could celebrate Eeyore’s birthday topless. I could just hear Eeyore saying, “Ohhhh-kayyy.” It has to be someone young and/or perky. Or maybe they commented on the wrong thread. It’s not something I’d consider under any circumstances. By the end of April in Texas, I’d get a serious sunburn.

Ann: I wouldn’t worry so much about sunburn. I’d worry that after the body painter finished, I’d have two sad basset hounds draped to my waist!!

READERS, would you consider going topless at Eeyore’s party? Give us your opinions. We’d love to hear them, and one lucky commenter will win two ebooks of your choice—one from Susan, and one from Ann or her alter ego, Emma Ames.

Find out more about Ann Everett/Emma Ames: