Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, March 24, 2006

undermine / drum

The houses on my block were built in 1900. A few have been replaced. On Saturday we helped our neighbor remove a 300-gallon oil drum from his back yard. He and his sons dug the hole, and I helped get it out.

While we were pulling the drum out, my teen-age neighbor was in the hole, filling in the dirt below the drum to give it support from below. At one point he started making the hole wider from below, digging under where someone else was standing. The man whom my neighbor hired to dispose of the drum said, "Don't undermine too much."

Undermine! The word's original non-figurative meaning had never occurred to me. To dig out from under, so the ground upon which someone stands collapses beneath him.

When we got the drum out it proved a magnificent musical instrument. If it weren't for the hazardous waste problem and the general storage challenge it would have presented, I would have been glad to have kept it.

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