Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cadger, Coot, Codgers

Blogger has a feature called "Blogs of Note". On my dashboard it lists blogs that someone in the dark reaches of the sub-basement at Blogger decides to highlight as worthy of mention.

I enjoy reading new blogs singled out on Blogs of Note because it gives me contrast and comparison. One blog I most identify with is a recent pick-"Throw Grammar From The Train". The writer writes that she's a reformed nitpicker. At last someone's interested in the vagaries of the English language. There's a subtle sense of humor behind the musings of the nitpickers.

Our former town clerk prided herself as a kind of amateur editor. When I ponied up some friends to donate a few dollars and time to publish a town newsletter, she jumped in to nitpick. Trouble was, she had a nasty side, almost a literary form of terrorism. The newsletter was abandoned when the town chairman decided it was safer for him avoid the snarling menace who had a cubbyhole in the back of the steel shed that is the town hall. Rather than confront her about letting us use the town's donated laser printer, he offered several excuses. Making hand gestures of a snarling tiger, he says, "I don't want her to quit." In a curious turn of events, the next town clerk became the town chairman's real nemesis. In an argument at the town dump, the two elders get into a tussle and the town chairman throws the town clerk to the ground. "I lost my cool," he later tells the judge at a court hearing. I guess nitpicking can be dangerous.

All of the above is a reaction to a picture I wanted to take of myself and Mandy May. When I saw the picture, the word codger comes to mind. Before I get to the meaning of codger, I have to point out that Mandy is afraid of the camera. At least when I pick up my digital Canon, she shies away. It made it difficult to get the image I wanted. Remember the words to a song by Crosby Stills and Nash? I forget the exact title. It may have been "Almost Cut My Hair" . In the song David Crosby says he wonders why he's letting his "freak flag" fly. To protect my skin from the harmful effects of the summer sun, I grew a beard. On any given day I spend 75% of my time outdoors. Since last Dec. I've had a beard. In the middle of the summer the itching got to me. I shaved the beard to a goatee. Now the goatee is long enough to tie a ribbon around like some of the bikers I see parked in front of the corner bar. Part of the "freak flag" experience is competing with Johann who has a perennial mountain man look. When you have to haul water from a spring shaving is of lesser importance.

So, with a cat stretched out on the table next to me and the dog on the carpet chewing on her blankie and a reticence to get going to this morning, I mull over growing older. I think it's a form of stalling, since I'll hit the door running once I get out of the shower. Picking up a bushel of apples, more yard work, nasty wood stove maintenance in the basement-the usual. Yesterday I got hit with the realization that its been a long time since I've had a truly create moment that didn't involve carpentry, dirt, canning or animals.

Codger, my Oxford English etymology says, is a stingy old man. Since it's become a familiar appellation it has been abbreviated to just old man, fellow or chap. That's a bit nicer. At the end of the entry is the reference to cadger. Looking up cadger I find it to be of unknown origin, first used to mean carrier and later itinerant dealer. Dawn's sisty ugler, an opinionated and ill tempered bitch, questioned Dawn's choice of an English etymology book as a gift. So as a retort to the nasty beaacch I'll point out that the codger entry has a pressed mosquito between the pages. I left the back door open for the kids to come and go as they please. An inquisitive mosquito made it to my office where I slammed the book open to codger on his skinny little body. So there, Miss Nasty Donna. There's more than one way to research etymology.

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