Signs and Omens If Grandmom's dooryard rooster, in the forenoon, stretched and crowed, she'd shade her eyes to watch for comp'ny comin' up the road. And, if by chance a frightened bird should fly into her room, it was for her a dismal forecast of impending doom. Grandmom had signs and omens that seemed to rule her life. Tho' they seemed ordinary, things portended good or strife. Sometimes, the things she told us kids - we'd laugh and say, "that's funny." Like itchin' nose meant "kiss a fool," but itchin' hand meant "money." But we believed our brains would be improved by eating fish, and wishbones or a falling star would help us get our wish. Tho' sometimes she gave warnings forboding to the young, one was if you lied you'd get a blister on your tongue. I wondered if my friends had grannies who read signs like mine, and did she make some warnings up to keep us kids in line? Bad luck was shoes on tables, umbrellas raised inside. Crossed fingers stood for "time out," good luck or when one lied. She'd say, "It's bad luck after dark to sweep the kitchen floor, and you're sweeping out your good luck if you sweep dirt out the door." Laughter in the morning meant before dark you would cry. Your nose must pick out stitches sewn on Sunday, when you die. A sudden shiver meant someone "walks on your grave," she said, and when the rain is falling, then resting is the dead. A little teething babe would suffer more, alas, if somebody showed him his image in a lookin' glass. A knife beneath a mattress would help to "cut" a pain. A magnet, tho, is what it took to draw out stress and strain. The breaking of a lookin' glass was good cause for alarm, tho' horseshoes hanging upside down protected homes from harm. An accidently dropped fork meant a man would visit soon, but a lady was expected if by chance you dropped a spoon. Someone is talking 'bout you - left for love and right for spite. If your ear rings in the morning, it's the opposite at night. Look over your left shoulder when the moon is new, and hold your open purse up - prosperity will come to you. Bubbles stood for money when brimming in your cup, and it was very lucky to find a coin, heads up. To find a four leaf clover was a lucky sign, but then, fate was always lurking to rear its head again. It was bad luck to spill salt, but by the same accord, if you tossed some o'er your shoulder, good luck would be restored. Grandmom's signs and omens aren't repeated much these days, and, tho' I don't have faith in them, I miss her mystic ways. - Lillian Arnold Lopez "Pineylore"