ace in the hole something held in reserve that can help in an emergency.
Aesop's Fables a collection of morality tales often read to children.
anatomical resembling the human body.
Angel Dust another name for PCP.
Apoplectic a stroke; a condition of great excitement or anger.
Beach Blanket Bingo refers to a 1965 beach movie of the same name, featuring teen idols Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.
beef shingles on toast a dish in which dried beef is cooked in a gravy and then poured over toast.
before you can say Jack Robinson an expression to reflect that an event happened quickly.
Blondie and Dagwood a married couple in a newspaper comic strip.
blue moon the second full moon in a calendar month; "once in a blue moon" indicates a rare occurrence.
Bobbie Brooks a brand of clothing associated with well-to-do young adults.
Border Patrol a U.S. federal agency that works to keep illegal immigrants out of the country.
bringing home the bacon earning a salary.
Burpee's catalogue Burpee is a company that sells plants and seeds to gardeners through a catalogue.
Candy Stripers teenage volunteers in a hospital, noted for the requisite red-and-white striped uniforms that they wear.
cashing in and plowing under committing suicide and being buried.
caste system divisions within a society based on differences in wealth, occupation, or inherited position.
catatonic lacking activity, movement, or expression.
cicadas a type of insect; male cicadas make a loud buzzing sound by rubbing body parts together.
cilantro a leafy herb popular in Mexican and Italian cooking.
conjecture a conclusion arrived at by guesswork.
conniption a fit of anger.
constitutional a walk taken for health reasons.
crick a creek.
croup a type of laryngitis marked by difficulty in breathing and a hoarse cough.
culottes loose-fitting women's shorts cut below the knee, resembling skirts.
cut out of the same mud alike.
cyanide a poisonous compound.
the Derby refers to the Kentucky Derby horse race, run annually near Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May.
discombobble confuse or upset.
disintegrated broken apart.
Disney meaning Walt Disney (1901-1966), the U.S. pioneer of animated film cartoons. The "hippo ballerinas" to which Kingsolver refers appear in the animated classic film Fantasia (1940).
doohickey something whose name is unknown.
Eleanor refers to Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), activist, humanitarian, and wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
flex short for flexible.
flotsam and jetsam a phrase used to describe objects either floating or washed ashore; an image of chaotic mess.
foisting deceitfully forcing someone to accept something.
Freeloader a person who imposes on another's hospitality without sharing in the responsibility or cost.
giant McDonald's thing the stainless steel Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, which stands 630 feet tall and commemorates the city's role as the gateway to the West during the nineteenth century.
Great Plain high plateau in central North America; the High Plains in northwestern Oklahoma and the panhandle are part of the Great Plain.
grip a suitcase.
Gumby doll a green rubber doll that can be bent in different directions.
head rights claim to Native American ancestry.
heathe(r)n an uncivilized or irreligious person.
Heimlich Maneuver an abdominal thrust to dislodge food or other material from a choking person's windpipe.
hex a jinx or an evil spell.
higgledy-piggledy confused; in disarray.
homeostasis a relatively stable state of equilibrium.
hunkered crouched down.
hypochondriac needlessly worrying.
ipecac a shrub whose roots are used as a medicine that induces vomiting.
it was no horseradish meaning no playing around.
Jackson Purchase approximately 2,000 square miles of land that extended beyond the Tennessee River and became an addition to the state of Kentucky in 1818, when General Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby of the United States negotiated with the Chickasaw Indian Nation. The Chickasaws received $300,000 over fifteen years. (In the same treaty, the Chickasaws relinquished 6,000 square miles of land, which was added to the state of Tennessee.)
jerry can a container that holds about five gallons of liquid.
Jesus bugs insects that skim across the top of water.
José Cuervo a brand of tequila.
Junebug a large beetle.
Keno a bingo-type lottery game.
"La Bamba" a Mexican song made popular in the U.S. by Ritchie Valens.
mange a skin disease, common to mammals, characterized by lesions, itching, and hair loss.
midi-skirt a skirt that reaches mid-calf.
moony romantically sentimental.
Mr. Ed a popular television show in the early 1960s whose title character was a talking horse. (The "horse" was actually a trained zebra.)
mustard plaster a soothing treatment containing mustard.
nineteen-ought-seven 1907; ought is a colloquial word meaning zero.
notarized certified as authentic by a public officer.
Old Grand-Dad a bourbon distilled in Kentucky.
Oral Roberts University named for evangelist Oral Roberts and located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
ORV short for off-road vehicle; a camper known as a recreational vehicle (RV).
Parkinson's disease a progressive disease, marked by shaking, that affects the nervous system.
PCP phencyclidine; used by veterinarians as an anesthetic and used illegally as a psychedelic drug.
phlebotomist a person trained to draw blood from people for diagnosis or study, or to determine how to treat a disease.
President Truman Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), the thirty-third president of the United States (1945-1953).
Psycho a 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie about a murderous, mentally unbalanced man and one of his victims.
pungent having a sharp odor.
Quickdraw McGraw a cartoon horse that was a sheriff in the southwestern desert of the U.S.
Rastafarian a member of a Jamaican religion that awaits the redemption of Blacks and their return to Africa.
rutabagas root vegetables, similar to turnips, with white- or yellow-colored flesh.
sarong a long strip of cloth worn as a dress or skirt.
scabies a contagious rash caused by mites.
Seattle Slew a race horse that won the Triple Crown in 1977.
Secretariat considered by many horse-racing fans the greatest racer ever; Secretariat won the coveted triple crown (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes) in 1973.
Sherman tank a large, armored military vehicle that runs on treads instead of wheels.
Sing Sing a U.S. federal penitentiary located in Ossining, New York.
spiral fibular fracture a type of break in the fibula, a bone running from the knee to the ankle.
spit nails angry.
splitting our gussets laughing hard enough to rip the seams in your clothing.
star sapphire a gem cut and polished to show a star shape in the stone.
succotash a corn and lima bean dish.
Tortolita Spanish, meaning little turtledove.
towhead a person with white or light-colored hair; tow is a coarse fiber used in the past to make gunnysacks.
wainscoting wooden paneling.