April 25th, 2011

Here's to You, Laura Ingalls

My clever and crafty husband is building a gated-arbor-and-picket-fence intended not only to delight my eyes, but to keep the surprisingly-Tigger-like dog out of the vegetable beds. As he was connecting the archways to the pressure-treated posts, he discovered that the heavy rains had actually made an impact on the rocky, clay-y, so-called dirt in which the posts had been anchored.

One post had shifted just enough that the arch wouldn’t correctly connect to it... unless it were shifted many inches closer to its partner post. (Each post was already connected to rails that were connected to posts that were bolted into concrete brick walls. It was not a great time to discover a measurement discrepancy.)

“I can lean on it,” I said.

And I did. I leaned on the post—almost enough. I leaned some more—nearly there.

“You know, I can—”

“No, no,” I interrupted. “I can push harder.”

And by God, I did. When we heard the sudden shocking snap, I thought maybe I’d broken the post—but no. Instead, I ripped the bolts OUT OF THE CONCRETE WALL.

The first thought that entered my mind was—not anxiety over my husband’s reaction (he wasn’t even upset, if you can believe that—and he’s since fixed my damage and installed half the pickets for the fence)—but a phrase from Little Town on the Prairie, in the scene where Miss Wilder is being hard on Laura’s little sister, and Laura volunteers to rock a schoolbench on little Carrie’s behalf (it’s a long story). And by God, Laura rocks that bench, ripping out the bolts that had formerly anchored it to the floor.

“Not for nothing did Pa always say she was as strong as a little French horse.” It may not be a verbatim quote, but it’s pretty dang close—and it’s been lurking in my head since I first read the Little House books in fourth grade.

What literary phrases hang around your mind and jump out at you unexpectedly?

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