This term is from the early 1800s and means to fool or lie to someone and get away with it through deception and trickery. From the early 1600s to present day, judges in Europe adorn wigs made from wool. In the United States it was a passing phase for our founding fathers to wear them. Pulling the wool over someone’s eyes depicts an unscrupulous person such as a deceitful lawyer when they are successful in lying to a judge and getting away with it. This is likened to physically pulling the wig (wool) down over the judge’s eyes until he/she cannot see properly to make an educated decision based on truth. The slightly earlier form of this phrase was to spread the wool over someone’s eyes.
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I love everything about wool. I love the smell of fresh sheared wool and warm lanoline. Soft fuzzy Marino wool, scratchy old camp blanket wool, it doesn’t matter, I love wool. In the spring I enjoy helping farmers during shearing season by volunteering to work the worst job which is removing the really dirty back end area of the wool after it has been sheared off the sheep, the rest gets stuffed in huge burlap bags for processing. You have to climb a ladder and jump in the bag to pack it down. My mom volunteered one year to be the packer and due to her stature of height or lack of, she disappeared in to the bag. It was quite entertaining to say the least, and she had a fun time. Every year I end up with a large bag or two of wool in exchange for my help.
For those who shear, hand-clean, card, and spin your own wool, you understand the labor of love that goes into each ball of yarn for a pair of socks or hat you make. For those who buy your yarn at a store, this next bit is just for you and what you are potentially missing out on. This last season when I brought my bag of wool home it was especially muddy. I threw it in the bathtub for the first soak just to get the big stuff out. The first soak is always the smelliest. I had a friend of mine coming for a visit, and it is a four-hour drive from Seattle. As she came through the front door, she shouted greetings and something about too much coffee as she headed for the bathroom. I was in the kitchen cooking, so I yelled back, “Make yourself at home.” I forgot to warn her about the wool in the tub. I heard a bloodcurdling scream, and as I came flying around the corner I found her coming down the hall, face as white as a ghost, pulling up her pants, trying to point back to the bathroom, screaming that there was a dead Sasquatch in my bath tub. Looking at this situation from a purely analytical point of view, I can completely understand her hysterical point of view. It did look and smell like a huge hairy thing had died in the bathtub. I laughed so hard I needed the bathroom next.
When we purchased our property, it came with a handful of chickens, a llama name Kola, and a sheep named Richard. Richard is an only sheep; he has never been around other sheep to learn sheep etiquette, so I am convinced by his general behavior that he thinks he is a dog. He comes when you call him, he is leash-trained and follows you around the property like a puppy. He also has a special talent. He is Houdini reincarnated as a sheep. Even though he has three acres of lush green grass to graze on, he is forever thinking that the 10 blades of grass the
chickens have not managed to find in the front yard and eat are more tantalizing than all the grass in his field. We have yet to find his escape route.
Someone left the front door open. That person also forgot to shut the screen door. Richard pulled a Houdini.
There I was, in my kitchen (no surprise there) cooking up butternut squash bisque soup, singing to something on the radio, I had just stuck the ladle into the bisque, and—BAAAAAHHHHHHH! Richard had wandered through the front door, through the dining room and into the kitchen, and announced his arrival very loudly. I jumped, threw the ladle of hot squash bisque, which landed on the ceiling and then on the floor, all while screaming all sorts of made-up words that sounded like I was shouting in tongues.
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When I jumped, Richard jumped, and then my kitchen became a makeshift skating rink made of butternut squash bisque. The only thing missing was The Blue Danube Waltz playing in the background and the Olympic judges ready to give us a score. Instead, I recall that it was Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” playing on the radio, and my kitchen resembled a twisted combination of Fantasia and Animal Farm on Ice. Richard had somehow managed to slide out of the kitchen, got traction on the carpet, and ran outside. He has never attempted to come back in the house to see what I’m cooking.
Now if you think I am pulling the wool over your eyes, just ask my mom. She will back me up, after we get her out of the bag of wool!