October 1, 2017 – Neighborhood turkeys

We have a rafter of turkeys in our neighborhood. Rafter is the official term for a flock of turkeys. Every morning they come down from the ridge, cross Foothill Road, walk while grazing through our neighborhood, and end up at the arroyo. Around 3 PM they make the return trip. They started out with two adults and fourteen babies but now the babies are almost as big as the adults. They have lost only two members during the last couple of months. I think it was probably due to a predator when they were little. I have not seen any turkey carcasses in Foothill Road and the people in our neighborhood are pretty careful about not hitting them. Cars do not seem to frighten them at all as you practically have to nudge them out of the way. Dogs, however, can make them squawk and fly which is quite exciting.

Our rafter of turkeys, fourteen strong

The chicks are now as big as the adults

Towel throwing

Since I promised yesterday –

The expression “to throw in the towel” comes from boxing. When a boxer was pretty well beaten up, his seconds would throw something in the ring to indicate that they were ready to admit defeat on his part. The handiest thing was usually a sponge or towel which was kept in the boxer’s corner.


On a completely different subject, I was in Costco and they had a set of attractive chargers (not the horse.) So I was wondering where this word, charger, came from. Thank goodness for the internet for providing answers to all one’s obscure questions.

Here’s the etymology from wordorigins.org –
“ A charger plate is a large dish on the table when you are seated and other plates and dishes are placed, or loaded, on top of it. The term is either from the Anglo-Norman chargeour meaning that which loads, or from the Old French chargeoir meaning a utensil that is used to load (in this case food onto a dish). The command “charge your glasses” traditionally given before toast is of the same origin. The term dates to the early 14th century.”

I saw on another site that John the Baptist’s head was placed on a charger. That would be rather earlier than the 14th century.


In today’s NY Times puzzle, one of the down clues was “hardly sesquipedalian.” I got the answer, “terse,” basically by getting the acrosses. I looked up sesquipedalian in the dictionary later and found the meaning below. I usually think of “terse” as being shortly concise rather than using short words. It’s a nuance of meaning I found interesting.

Sesquipedalian – Given to the overuse of long words

Sesquipedalian comes from Latin sesquipedalis, a foot and a half long, hence inordinately long, from sesqui, one half more, half as much again + pes, ped-, a foot.


In May, I wrote about enate, a word which means related on your mother’s side. Well, just this past Sunday while doing the NY Times Crossword Puzzle I ran across it’s opposite, agnate, which means to be related on your father’s side. Both words come from the Latin root meaning, to be born, but the prefix on enate gives it the meaning of “born out of,” while the the prefix on agnate gives it the meaning “born to.”


As with any craft, there is a whole set of jargon that goes with knitting. What’s purling and where did this word come from?

Purl – “knit with inverted stitches,” 1825; earlier “to embroider with gold or silver thread” (1526), from M.E. pirlyng “revolving, twisting,” of unknown origin.


One of my favorite words to say is “indubitably.” Go on, say it! Isn’t it great the way it rolls off your tongue? But I thought that indubitable was one of the words like inept where the root is not a word, i.e. He is really ept with a hammer. I was wrong. There is a root word.

Dubitable -Subject to doubt or question; uncertain. (dictionary.com)


Before I get to the word definition, is anyone else having trouble with the northeast corner of the Saturday New York Times Crossword Puzzle? I pretty much zipped through the rest of it. Maybe if I just lay it aside for a while, I can come back to it with a fresh mind. As I’ve mentioned before, the greatest cheat is to ask John for an answer. It’s also somewhat demeaning. But if anyone reading this would like to drop me a hint I’d appreciate it.

The word for the day also appears in the puzzle. It’s one I’d never seen before. It looks like a felony committed by someone named Robert.

bobbery – A squabble; a tumult; a noisy disturbance; as, to raise a bobbery. (dictionary.com)
It is from the Hindi meaning “O thou Father” and is a disrespectful form of address.


This is kind of interesting. Originally, intrigue was only a noun with the accent on the first syllable meaning a secret or underhand scheme; a plot or a clandestine love affair. Then, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, “The introduction of the verb intrigue (accent on the second syllable) to mean “to arouse the interest or curiosity of” was initially resisted by writers on usage as an unneeded French substitute for available English words such as interest, fascinate, or puzzle, but it now appears to be well established.” The use of intrigue as a verb has only become well accepted in the last 40 years.


If you go to Italy, you are going to see a lot of Renaissance art.

Renaissance – A rebirth or revival.
The Renaissance
a. The humanistic revival of classical art, architecture, literature, and learning that originated in Italy in the 14th century and later spread throughout Europe.
b. The period of this revival, roughly the 14th through the 16th century, marking the transition from medieval to modern times. (dictionary.com)


These entries are all connected as you’ll see when you read the “travels” section.

Bellini – This drink was created in 1943 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy in honor of the painter Geovani Bellini. The original recipe was made with fresh pureed white peaches with a bit of raspberry or cherry juice to give the drink a pink glow.

Original Version
2/3 cup white peach puree (use yellow peaches if white not available)
1 teaspoon raspberry puree
1 bottle chilled Italian sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Asti Spumante Brut

Place 1 1/2 tablespoons puree In the bottom of each flute and add 2 – 3 drops of the raspberry puree. Add sparkling wine and serve. (gourmetsleuth.com)

Language Pollution

Why is it that English, particularily American English, so readily accepts foreign words with no fuss, while the French have laws against it. They don’t want their language polluted with lots of Americanisms. But guess what, it’s an uphill fight. Things like “le weekend” or “radio” are in practical use.

Here are words from French we use all the time: malaise, chauffeur, milieu, parvenu, paramour, bon mot, montage, laissez faire and many others.


There’s a lot of talk in the news about the Senate using the “nuclear option” and changing the Senate rules about filibustering judicial nominees.

Filibuster – The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.


There is a statue of William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist, on the Commonwealth Mall in Boston. Inscribed on the statue are his words – “I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.” Here’s a man who really said what he meant and stood by it.

In relation to my worry of the day, I tend to be an equivocator. It’s something I am trying to overcome.

equivocate – To be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or to avoid committing oneself to anything definite.