Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.08.11
Stanstead, Quebec


More words for that

Recently, I wrote about house words, the idiosyncratic vocabulary familiar only to those within our immediate circles. For example, there was this one from our house that I forgot: "cheese curtains," another name for cheese curds, aka "cheese turds."

I asked readers to send in their own examples, and the response was overwhelming (and by "overwhelming" I mean "way more than the time I asked for reader's bank account passwords.")

Whitney Collins, who runs the very funny website Errant Parent and its new sister website The Yellow Ham, submitted a number of examples, though I can never be sure if she's serious:

    Cat blood pebble: a Flintstone multivitamin with iron

    Go-go juice: coffee

    Big pink: the blanket everyone fights over in the den

Karen Cushing-MacPherson of Stanstead, QC demonstrated yet another way that house pets debase their owners. If you pass by her house you might hear someone calling out, "Wanna poopeepoo?" That's how they coax the kitties indoors with some soft canned cat food. So, if they have a whole tray of an assorted meat & seafood-flavoured cat foods, would that be a poopeepoo-pu platter?

Misheard words seem to play a large part in the creation of house words. My work colleague Meghan Corcoran Pero shared "crackinmelamp," used in her family as an all-purpose swear word. "My late Dutch grandmother was telling a story when she noticed a crack in her lamp. With the accent, we all thought she was swearing in Dutch as part of the story."

Mary Feree wrote via e-mail to tell me about "beast onion," which is someone in a bad mood.

"This came about when my older daughter was about three or so, and we used to read her a book about Hiram and his life on a farm. At one point the story says, 'Hiram never complained, even when a bee stung him.' Well, my daughter, being three and not well versed in how things sound, heard "beast onion," and it has stuck forever.

"My granddaughter used that expression once, and the people she was with thought she'd lost her mind. She came storming home, and demanded to know why we hadn't told her it was a family thing! Needless to say we all had a good laugh."

Ah, kids: fun to have, more fun to mess with.

Townships newspaper magnate (or is that magnatess? Magnato? Magnolia?) Sharon McCully wrote: "Our kids predated pampers and pull-ups, going directly from diapers to 'training pants' which we shortened to 'TPs.' To this day all our kids refer to their underwear as 'TPs,' much to the amusement of their spouses."

Fellow Record columnist Gordon Lambie offered a handful of house words.

Fat cat: "Usually our older cat, Pause, though also a general term for any cat that has reached adulthood."

Babycat: "Our younger cat, Percy. Also, any cat that has not yet aged enough to be a fat cat (ironically Babycat is now a fat cat)."

Wiibot: "Our Nintendo Wii."

The padpod: "The iPad."

Carol Mooney of Ayer's Cliff writes:

"For several years, five families have gotten together on Super Bowl Sunday to exchange small impractical gifts, enjoy dinner together, and hope the Super Bowl is interesting beyond halftime. One of the twenty-somethings recently coined the phrase "Supermas" to describe our annual ritual. It sounded religious to one friend I tried it out on."

And finally, one more from me: "combolumn": what you call a newspaper column when your readers do most of the work for you.

On the morning of Thursday, February 9, I'll be on hand with copies of my book and hopefully lots of fresh coffee at the North Hatley, QC Curling Club as part of the Senior Bonspiel. I've been invited to attend as "a person of interest," which sounds like someone the police are looking for regarding the theft of people's bank account information. Regardless, drop by and say hello. If you're interested in the breakfast or want to know more about the club, curling or what the heck a bonspiel is, contact Charles Davis at (819) 842-5022.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at