Things My Mother Taught Me

My mother had folk wisdom for every occasion. I’ll try to add to this list as I recall more of her sayings. Many of these are well-known, and she inserted them into the conversation with some regularity. Many others I know only from hearing her repeat them, and I assume she got them from her elders.

  • A pint is a pound, the world round
  • If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride
  • Beggars can’t be choosers
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees
  • Better safe than sorry
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth
  • Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched
  • The horse is out of the barn; it’s too late to close the door
  • Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream
  • There and back in the same day! (upon arriving home)
  • You make a better door than a window!
  • Little pitchers have big ears
  • All around Robin Hood’s barn (taking a roundabout way)
  • When the wind blows the tree leaves inside out, a storm is approaching
  • It’s time to plant the corn when the leaves on the maple trees are as big as a squirrel’s ear (attributed to local indigenous lore)
  • Be careful you don’t get too big for your britches!
  • The road to Hell is paved with good intentions
  • Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop
  • My, aren’t you full of piss and vinegar!
  • Saints preserve us!
  • Right as rain
  • That stinks to High Heaven!
  • If is was a bear, it would have bit you!
  • … as soon as you can say “Jack Rabbit”
  • Goodness! you’re busy as a bee
  • … must be on a slow boat from China
  • … till the cows come home
  • (when one of her children refused to finish all of dinner) Think of all the poor starving children in India (or China) who would love to have that food! (to which the response was “Send it to them!”)

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