Why I Am An Old Codger

Cadge

WHY I AM AN OLD CODGER

By Emeritus Archon

Mrs. Upshall, and my fellow Grade Four classmates

What is a codger?  I bet you thought that I knew everything about English language words.  I know I did!

The same extinct British TV show which brought us the word manky, as well as the more recent phrase, ‘Stone the Crows,’ also recently taught me why I am an old codger.  I have accepted (bitched about it – but accepted) that I am old, since I turned 60 – but, codger?

In ancient times – and not-so-ancient times – birds of prey were important to royalty and nobility as a symbol of swift, destructive power.  Eagles, hawks and falcons were common on heraldry and coats of arms.  The bigger the dick lord, the more birds he might own.  A king could have 15 or 20.

Each and every one of them must be exercised every day, by the bird trainer.  They must be taken away from the castle where they roost, to an open patch of ground, so that they can be flown, one at a time, trained to attack prey, and brought back to the trainer, using a bait, swung around and tossed into the air at the end of a stout cord.

That’s the trainer’s job, but whose job was it to get all these birds to and from the castle – and how?  A device called a cadge was invented (See above photo).  It’s like a small end table with no top, and upholstered rails for birds to cling to.  It has shoulder straps to support the weight when a person stands inside it.  10 to 20 birds, at three or four pounds each, can be quite a load.

Strong young men were better employed for other uses.  It was usual for older men to tote this thing around.  Dictionaries are not sure where the name cadge came from.  Some feel that it originally might have been ‘cage.’  Others, (which I agree with) feel that it’s a development of ‘carriage.’  The poor lout who got burdened with it became known as a cadger.  Pronunciation drift eventually changed that to codger.

So, that’s the story of how I came to be what I am – a flighty old man, forced to help support and train a bunch of bird-brains.  I come by my title of Grumpy Old Dude, honestly.  😉

’20 A To Z Challenge – D

A To Z ChallengeLetter D

Death

I am the God of Hellfire and in this episode of the A to Z Challenge, I bring you

D’EATH

(deeth)
This little-known English word is almost as uncommon as the imported surname. The D’eath family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D’Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Middle English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder.

Families with the name D’eath might know where it came from and what it meant. The word’s other reference is to the rather sketchy occupation, whose bundles of firewood sticks known as faggots, have deteriorated into a modern insult for homosexuals. To the superstitious, this, and its similarity to the word ‘death,’ make them uneasy when they encounter it.

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey DSO is the fictional protagonist in a series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers (and their continuation by Jill Paton Walsh ). A dilettante who solves mysteries for his own amusement, Wimsey is an archetype for the British gentleman detective.

In one book, the hero investigates a suspicious fatality at a company doing sensitive government work. He poses as the man’s replacement, under the name Peter D’eath, telling the manager that he hopes it will startle the guilty party into somehow revealing himself. It was an amusing but needless literary device, because the author goes on to show that it was a prank of a mail-room teen with a slingshot – an English ‘catapult’ – which caused the man to fall down a flight of stairs.

Small Town Reality

Small Town

A recent humor post about small towns elicited some comments, questions, and not-necessarily-good memories. For those with curiosity, or defective nostalgia, here’s the real low, down.

Baskin-Robbins only has three ice cream flavors.

Corporate America has still not reached my little Canadian town. There used to be a couple of independent, Mom-and-Pop convenience stores that hand-dipped ice cream, before pre-packaged treats became available. Now they subsist by selling lottery tickets to folks dreaming about having enough money to get out.

You had to step out of the village limits in order to change your mind.

That’s a trick question. Nobody in my town changes their mind.

The nickname for the city jail is amoeba because it only has one cell.

Hah! Our town jail has two cells. One for drunken white men, and another for drunken Indians from the adjoining reservation.

McDonalds only has one Golden Arch and the nearest one is 15 miles away.

The nearest one is in the next town, 5 miles closer to the nuclear reactor, and the only source of employment left in the area.

Instead of a 7-11 they have a 3.5 – 5.5.

See ‘no corporate America’ above. 3.5 X 5.5 refers to metres – 20 by 30 feet sized convenience stores.

The New Year’s baby was born in April.

With all the screwing that’s going on, some of it even by people who are married – to each other – you’d think this would happen earlier in the year. All praise free birth-control information on the internet.

The “Welcome To” and “Thanks for Visiting “signs are front and back of the same sign.

The town has a lot of long-term summer residents – rich city folks who own expensive cottages. Neither they, nor the residents, really want transient, stay-at-a-tourist-camp visitors. There is no ‘Welcome’, or ‘Thanks’ sign. It was left to the Department of Highways to identify where drivers were with a generic sign.

You have to go to the next town to find 2nd Street….

At least there’s nothing as bland as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Street in my home-town. We have a British-type, High Street, which I was born on, as well as street names like Morpeth, Anglesia, Grosvenor, Grenville, Landsdowne, Breadlebane, and Augusta.

A “Night on the Town” only takes about ten minutes.

There are bars in two hotels on High Street, a block apart. White folks drink at one. Indians drink at the other. If you drink too long at either, your ten-minute ‘Night on the Town’ could stretch to 72 hours in the appropriate comfortably-appointed jail cell.

The Subway restaurant that serves foot-long sandwiches cannot fit within the village limits.

See ‘no corporate America’ again. There is a French-fries/hamburger/ hot-dog take-out building on the highway, behind the bank. It limps through the winter months, and produces retirement income during the summer.

You do not bother using turn signals because everyone already knows where you are going.

Laid out by British surveyors, the town has good sight-lines, and broad streets. It is one of two towns in Canada with a 100 foot-wide main street – most have 66. If you do manage to cut off a local resident, they feel free to tell you where to go.

Big social events are scheduled around when the high school gym floor is being varnished.

The local Legion is big enough to handle most ‘big’ social events. The local high school was closed in 1955, because of lack of students. The couple of dozen per year are bused five miles to the 350 student ‘District’ high school.

You call a wrong number and the person who answers can give you the correct number for the person you are trying to call..

While this was once true, the internet has become a boon, since the big Don’t-Give-A-Damn epidemic hit town.

There is no point in high-school reunions because everyone knows what everyone else is doing anyway.

This is true of those too dumb to get out. The ones who leave, just tend to disappear.
“Do you remember Bob?”
“Bob who?”
“We went to school with him.”
“You mean Rob?”
“Maybe….”
“I got no idea where he went.”

School gets canceled for Provincial sporting events.

No-one in my town was good enough at any sport to qualify for Provincial meets. Senior elementary classes are sometimes bused to District events.

It was cool to date someone from a different high-school.

It had to be from the same ‘District’ high school, but at least you could date someone from a different town – or a farm girl, who could show you alternate social uses for the hay-mow in the barn.

The golf course had only three holes.

There’s a quite-nice golf course, 2 miles out of town, where the old highway wisely bypassed this social morass, a century ago. More recently, a developer included a tournament-worthy course as a perk with his new housing subdivision, on the other side of town, right next to the Indian reservation, whose residents are wisely not allowed to be members. They are both 18-hole courses. Amusingly, just 2 miles away from my current, big-city house, is a course that the city has grown out and surrounded. It is a par-3 course.

Anyone you are looking for can be found at either the Dairy Queen or Wal-Mart, over in ‘The Big City’.

I remember when I thought that it was the cultural center of the Universe, with all of 10,000 residents.

Directions are given using the one and only stop light as a reference – after they finally installed one.

Even after they redirected the highway through the town, instead of past it, the intersection with the main street was a 4-way stop until the Department of Highways insisted on a traffic light in 1955. It’s still the only one.

Weekend excitement involves a trip to the grocery store.

1955 was a year of excitement. A Canadian-based supermarket came to town to challenge 3 little independent grocery stores. While considerable excitement can be had with bananas and cucumbers, the entire town was agog when they imported coconuts.

Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.

My Dad was a Johnny-come-lately, carpet-bagger, non-native. My Mom left in her early teens during the dirty-Thirties, and returned as an adult. None of the teachers had been inoculated, or developed a resistance to me.

The best burgers in town are at the four-lane bowling alley.

Our bowling alley had the best burgers and 8 lanes, but was an unheated summer-only, beach bowling alley, only open from the end of May, till Labor Day. The next town down had a year-round, 4-lane alley, but no lunch bar. The best burgers were next door at the owner’s A-frame, chalet diner.

Tell us about your tiny home-town…. or the unfortunate section of big city that you grew up in.

WOW #16

Beer Can

The Word Of the Week, if you can remember it when you sober up, is

Cannikin

Definitions for cannikin

a small can or drinking cup.
a small wooden bucket.

Origin of cannikin

Cannikin comes from Middle Dutch cannekijn, Dutch kanneken “small can.” The cann-, kann- element comes Middle Dutch kanne, Dutch kan, and is closely related to German Kanne, Old Norse kanna, Old English canne, and English can, all from Germanic kanna meaning “tankard, container, can.” It is possible that this Germanic word is a borrowing from Latin canna “reed, reed pipe, flute, cane,” which itself has a very long history going back through Greek kánna “reed, cane” to Semitic, e.g. Assyrian qanū “reed.” Nouns ending in the diminutive suffix -kin are not common in English, and most of those (e.g., catkin, gherkin, firkin, manikin) are of Dutch origin and date from the mid-16th and mid-17th centuries. Dutch -kin is related to German -chen, as in Liebchen “sweetheart” or Häuschen “little house, cottage.” Cannikin entered English in the mid-16th century.

Now that you’ve learned more English word-history than you really wanted, this post is about the different ways that Americans and Canadians buy beer, and go about getting drunk, soused, high, pissed, lit….etc., etc. English has a seeming infinity of words to describe intoxication,

If a Canadian, or at least one from Ontario, wants to buy beer, he buys a case – 24 beer at a time, and usually in bottles. Based on very limited personal research, mostly in New York State, Florida, Ohio and Michigan, I find that most Americans don’t buy beer by the case.  Even when they purchase 24 at a time, they get them in 4 sissysix-packs.  Damned amateurs, no real commitment.  At least most of them don’t drink it with a straw.

Canned beer generally outsells bottled. They don’t break when you drunkenly accidently drop one at a tail-gate party or Barbecue, and they won’t flatten your ATV’s tires later, when you fling them out your pickup’s windows.  When you’re fishing and drinking, be kind to the environment.  Don’t just toss the empties out of the boat.  Fill them with water, and sink them to the bottom.

Mind your Ps and Qs.  The British still drink beer by the 20 oz. pints and 40 oz.quarts.  It’s getting better, but quarts don’t get warm while you drink them, because much of the beer they serve is still unrefrigerated.  If any of you Americans want to see how beer is really drunk (and the patrons are really drunk, too) c’mon up to Kitchener during our Oktoberfest, and watch it guzzled from one-liter (wimpy 32 oz.American quart) steins.  The beer has a head tonight.  You’ll have a head tomorrow.

Hans Haus

WOW #7

Dictionary

The Word Of the Week is a totally new one to me, and quite useful, psychologically.  It is

PARALOGIZE

To draw conclusions that do not follow logically from a given set of assumptions.

Paralogize entered English from Medieval Latin paralogizāre, from Greek paralogízesthai meaning “to reason falsely.” It’s been used in English since the late 1500s.

I’ve mentioned that the examples given, often do not relate well to the chosen word. One example for this word is;

“A brick,” he retorted, “is a parallelogram; I am not a parallelogram, and therefore not a brick …” “Charley Lightheart, you paralogize.” Stewart Edward White and Samuel Hopkins Adams, The Mystery, 1907

I would like to object that the conclusion drawn is valid, but must admit that the authors are British, and members of a group which uses the word ‘brick’ in a very different sense.

Brick – a decent, generous, reliable person (1830s+ British students)

So it is the assumption which is at fault here, although I can’t imagine why Charlie would object to being called one.

Like the ‘No True Scotsman Theorem’, this is a term that I can use to label the Religiously Restrictive, when they play the ‘Who’s Going To Be Saved’ game. They claim, “I’m Christian, and I’m good! You’re not Christian, therefore you are evil!

This is like Super-paralogizing.  Neither any of the assumptions, nor the conclusions, are valid.

This week’s candidate was caught associating with the likes of; whiffler, muckrake, bonzer, juggernaut, and troglodyte.

Flash Fiction #66

Widdershins

PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman

WIDDERSHINS

He must be late! Everybody was coming back. Bloody British, they don’t know if they’re coming or going, but do it on the wrong side of the road. Everyone else had passed to the right on medieval trails, to keep the sword-arm free.

Not the English! No Sirree! At least they hadn’t passed this aberration on to Canada or the USA, although they’d led 50 other countries astray – if you didn’t look too hard at the definition of the term ‘country.’ Turks and Caicos Islands, and Vendu. Vendu?? There were sunglass kiosks in the malls that were larger than Vendu.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple website and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

What Canada Isn’t

Canada is a great country, whose one identifying characteristic is, that it doesn’t have an identifying characteristic. Those of us who deal with non-Canadians, spend great amounts of time and effort explaining to the rest of the world, what Canada isn’t.

We are like the middle child in a family. We have to explain to the Americans, that we are not English. We have to explain to the British, and the rest of the world, that we are not Americans. We explain to the French, that even the Quebec portion isn’t French. Vive le Quebec libre somewhere else, monsieur DeGaulle. De gall of dat man, heh?

We are not a colony anymore, and we are not ruled or led by a European county. We are an independent democracy, but we are not Jingoistic about it. We provide socialist support for our citizens, but we are not communist. Although we are a country of large geography and small population, and have acquired the reputation for being a well-mannered Mr. Niceguy, we are not a pushover. Anyone who saw the movie Argo, viewed a piece of American-made hype, but got that message.

We aren’t equipped with a huge set of Armed Forces, but we aren’t afraid of getting our hands dirty, and the job done, to the point that we aren’t often called on to prove it.

One of our home-grown comics, who moved to The States because we aren’t rich enough to afford to pay our best performers what they deserve, said that Canada is a subtle flavor – like celery. But remember, celery is strong and crisp, with lots of fibre….and so are we.

Some of our Provinces, Territories and areas have their complaints and demands, as the siblings in any family do, but we are not coming apart at the seams as the Balkans, and other SSRs did. Canada is not a country which imprisons, executes or oppresses social, ethnic, political or religious minorities.

Canada is not perpetually covered with ice and snow. It is not inhabited by toque-wearing lumberjacks, living in igloos. Canada is not an exporter of wars, aggression, terror or ideology. Canada is not a bucolic backwater, because Canada is not afraid or incapable of adapting to rapidly changing, social and technological climes.

Canada isn’t a troublemaker, or a creepy neighbor, partner, or ally. All in all, what Canada isn’t….is a bad place to live, work or visit. Y’all come now, y’hear?

Canadian Flag

 

But ……………………………Canada Kicks Ass

The preceding political message has been brought to you by a Citizen and booster, as proud of the many things that Canada isn’t, as the many exemplary things that his country is.

 

You Don’t Say

While English is the only language I speak, I have done a lot of study of other languages where words or phrases have entered ours.  English is, at the same time, a complex language, and yet dead simple.  I prize it for the fact that, with some study and understanding, it is capable of producing subtly nuanced meanings.

An American politician in the late 1800s stated that there should be no dictionaries, because no two words in the language mean exactly the same thing.  I have heard and read people who ask, Why are there so many synonyms in English?  The answer is that there are a range of words which allow the user to choose the exactly desired meaning.  The right word, and the almost-right word are not the same thing.  As Mark Twain explained, “There’s a mighty difference between lightning, and a lightning-bug.”

Interestingly, (to me) the language also has a whole range of words which allow the timid to not say exactly what they mean.  Many Muslims will not write the name Allah, because they then have to respectfully get rid of the paper it was written on.  Burning it while praying is the accepted practice.  So too, many Jews will not write the Hebrew word for Yahweh, or even the English word God, for the same reason.  Many people, non-Jews included, write only G*d, thus escaping the ritual.

While respect for God, and the name of God, is admirable, it is a man-directed mental state.  The Biblical commandment is to “Not take the name of God in vain.”  This actually means not to bug God with trivial stuff, or ask for things you don’t really deserve….in other words, most prayer.

Reticent speakers/writers use a wide range of euphemisms, expressions which state clearly what is intended, while pussyfooting around actually saying something which often isn’t really offensive.  The first time I ran into it was in a “Tammy” movie, in the late 50s.  Sandra Dee, playing Tammy, had something go poorly, and firmly stated *Amsterdam!*  Amsterdam? queried her rooming house hostess.  “Yes, and Rotterdam, and all them other damns!”   So she’d clearly pronounced the word, and everyone knew what she meant, but she hadn’t really said it.

Many of the strange Britishisms that you may have run into, center on not saying God.  Egad refers to (the) God.  Gadzooks were God’s hooks, which he used to create the Universe.  Od’s bodkin was God’s bodkin, a spike-like fabricating tool, used to create….  By Jove is just the use of the name of a god believed not to exist, in place of the name of the one believed to exist.

The Australian, strooth, is a reference to “His truth.”  Bleeding and bloody both refer to Christ, on the cross.  The Cockney, cor blimey, started as the expression, “God blind me, for I am not worthy of seeing Your glory.”

Since it is God who would have to do it, many folks also have trouble with the word, Damn.  Dash it all, darn it, and dang, often fill in.  It’s a little dated, but even dagnabit is still uttered occasionally.  Gosh, taken from the Bible, Land of Goshen, often takes the place of the name of God, gosh-durn, gosh-darn and gosh-dang.  The prefix –gol produces the same I-didn’t-say-it effect, with gol-durn, gol-darn and gol-dang.

Dr. Spooner had a speech defect which had him inverting the initial sounds of following words.  For him, a shining wit was actually a whining shit.  Doc Spooner’s inversions are used to bring us Yosemite Sam’s “Dag-gummed”.  Reversing that reversal quickly shows what the Hays Commission wouldn’t let our little cartoon character say.

You can shoot the shit, unless you can’t face saying it.  Then you just leave out the s**t, and say, Oh shoot, or shucks.  My father described the verbally repressed by, “Wouldn’t say shit, if he had a mouthful.”  The first words you learn in another language are often the profanities.  When I was in the Adult Education, with accent on Adult, one of the English-speaking men came out with “scheisse”, German for shit.  A younger, German-speaking female shockedly asked, “Does he know what that means?”  I would imagine he does, although, in an English-speaking class, that’s another euphemism.

The concept of sexual intercourse is another whose solid, Anglo-Saxon descriptor is often replaced, in *polite* conversation.  You’re big kids.  You know what I’m talking about.  Because of a bureaucratic mix-up, a local single mother and her five-year-old son spent a cold weekend when their delivery of fuel-oil didn’t arrive till Monday.  She managed to get some warmth from the stove and an electrical heater, but was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “It was frigging cold.”

Some blue-nosed Bible-thumper complained that the paper had printed that word, especially on the front page, “Because we all know what that word really means”.  You damned, strait-laced fool, that’s what euphemisms are for.  Frigging actually has a dictionary value of, “meaningless intensifier”, unlike similar words like fricking, freaking and fracking.

So, to those of you without the intestinal fortitude to call a spade a spade, or who are surrounded by audiences full of sensitive ears and feelings, you can be happy that you have a language which allows you to use speech so tactful, that you can tell some asshole to go to hell in such a nice way that he’ll welcome the trip and enjoy the stay when he gets there.