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)