March 31, 2013

Words about weight, 'up' and ketchup


---- — It’s time to fess up; I’m writing this on Palm Sunday. 

Although the 40 days of Lent aren’t quite up, the time to assess the situation is. The deadline for submitting the write-up is here. The jig is up. This will be a multi-pronged piece of miscellany about the word “up,” also, my promised efforts to lose weight and a follow-up on ketchup. 

First, the battle of the bulge. With just one week to go, I’m clinging to most of what earned me the heavyweight status in the first place. It has definitely not been a case of easy come, easy go. The first 10 pounds melted away quickly, aided by daily walking with Kaye at the mall and the lack of sweets of all kinds. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables and nothing else between meals. I got stuck at that 10-pound plateau, and there I remained. I’ll be extra good for the next seven days and hope that when you read this on Easter morning, I will have lost a bit more. I really tried.

As for ketchup, the response was wonderful. I can’t mention by name all those who wrote or called, but your comments were terrific. Rose Moore of Champlain sent me two “tomato ketchup” recipes from her canning books. 

Melissa wrote, “How I love ketchup. Many nights, all I know is that I want ketchup for dinner, so I have to decide what I want to make that I can logically eat it on.”

Steffan Beauharnois of Rouses Point sent a photo of his father-in-law in Massena who “eats ketchup on everything.” It shows Al Layo with a special ketchup T-shirt. Steffan’s teenage daughter sent me a link to a YouTube rap ditty about ketchup.

Gary Snow said starving actors in New York City back in the ‘60s would go into a place and order a cup of tea. They would drink the tea and then fill the empty cup with hot water and ketchup.

Martha Bachman spoke of living near Pittsburgh and having “pickle pins” from the pickle factory that sent pickles to the Heinz plant. She said there is a legend that when Heinz first made ketchup, people didn’t like it. Apparently, homemade ketchup has to be stirred constantly; otherwise, it will burn, and people were used to that taste. The story goes that he altered his cooking method slightly, and it worked.

Les Bradford said he joins me in enjoying a “bread-and-butter-and-ketchup sammy” every now and then.

Ron Dame wrote, “When I was young, I would have cocoa and toast with ketchup and dunk the toast in the cocoa for breakfast.”

Lyn Premo sent two pages of marvelous ketchup memories, including one about a younger brother who, while circling the table with a stubborn bottle for his dad to “smack” with his palm, dropped it, and “the problem was immediately resolved. Ketchup flew out of the bottle and straight up the wall.”

An email of unknown origin has been circulating about “up.” I followed it up by doing a great deal of research. It has more meanings in my dictionaries than any other word with just two letters. My personal list indicates it can be used as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective or preposition.

Some of its uses border on the vernacular or obscene; others are much more benign, and many are hilarious. Did you enjoy the popular movie “Up”? Can you remember the lyrics to the song, “Up, Up and Away”?

Think of how many times each day you utter the word. I challenge you to come up with uses different from my own. I filled several pages in my not-so-idle moments. Here are a few: giddyup, upchuck, sup (as a contraction for what’s up), uptake, hook up, slip up, make up, follow up, up and down, uptown, seize up, up the ante and about a thousand more. I had to sharpen up my pencil several times during the exercise. Try it if you’re up to it.

I fear if we took the word out of our language, we’d have to think up some kind of substitute. I wonder how many times it appears in the Bible. Now, there a real project for you.

Have a blessed Easter and please, drive up carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at