Category Archives: Cartoon
I can’t believe how fast the month has flown by! Life took over – more like, it grabbed me by the neck and took me for a wild ride – and writing took a back seat; it sat back there, observing, taking notes, and waiting for the first opportunity to grab the wheel again.
Meetings, challenges and dealing with the messy bits that make up a full life took most of my time this past month. English classes; singing students; somewhere in there also comes housework and grocery shopping. Our church held a bazaar, and I was counted on by the organizers to bring a variety of crafts (I have a bit of a reputation). I spent two days baking with a friend; I spent nearly two weeks organizing and supplementing my crafts to sell, including deciding on prices for each (and we all know how easy that is…). I had dozens of Scherenschnitte (some in frames, some without); plarn (= plastic yarn, made from upcycled plastic bags) purses and baskets (including two baskets made out of an old air mattress); each plarn bag, including glazed cardboard buttons, has a unique tag recording how much time was spent, and what materials each is made of. I also had beaded bookmarks, wine charms, tin embossed Christmas ornaments, a bowl full of surprise gift bags, and three kinds of cookies (Spitzbuben, Bretzeli, and savoury cheese cookies). The crafts also required props – tags, packaging cards, a hanging display rod, and a display bowl and wine glass (both paper-maché), etc. etc. Whew. You can see why it took me two weeks! I now have a few special orders that were sold at the bazaar which I need to make and get sent off in time for Christmas.
Somewhere in that busyness, someone moved in with us; she’ll be with us for at least the next three months, and I’ve been helping her deal with the official business of moving (deregistering from Zürich, registering here in our town, etc.), and also settling in as far as finding her way around the town, public transport, and our home.
All the while, in the back seat, writing has been breathing down my neck; but it’s not the only thing, and it hasn’t been the loudest by a long shot. I have responsibilities in our church that require phone calls, organisational meetings, organising people who have lives of their own, too, leading the church services (two per Sunday morning) at least once a month, and sometimes getting things pushed uphill – empathies for Sisyphus.
I have dozens of ideas to share with you; it comes down to eking enough time to do a topic justice. But life is slowing down a bit more once again, so I look forward to letting writing climb back into the front seat! I’ve started working again on my next novel, and keeping an eye out for a topic that wants undusting. Keep your eyes open – I’m back!
Did you know that a group of vultures has a sense of humour? Or at least the people who decided to name them did (likely back in the 16th century, when a slew of collective nouns emerged): While hanging out and doing nothing, vultures are called a committee. When feeding, they’re called a wake. There’s irony in them thar’ varmints.
Some collective nouns are common sense, and others simply common, such as packs of wolves, flocks of birds or herds of cattle; but did you know that lice flock, and sea urchins form herds, too? If I say swarm, you might think of flies or gnats or even minnows; but you could use the same word to describe a group of eels.
Worms bed, dotterels trip, cheetahs form a coalition, and Hippopotami bloat. Rhinoceroses either crash or form a stubbornness, while skunks stench and squirrels scurry. Jellyfish smack, brood or fluther, while oysters bed and goldfish glint or create a troubling. Butterflies flutter, swarm or kaleidoscope; caterpillars army, while grasshoppers cloud.
There are some fun combinations: Crows murder (they also gather as a storytelling or a parcel), Flamingos flamboyance, guillemots bazaar, gulls screech (don’t they, though?), and hawks kettle (flying in large numbers) and boil (two or more spiralling on an updraft). Hummingbirds charm, as do Magpies (unless they murder), and owls and rooks hold a parliament – I’d trust them to do so more than most politicians. Peacocks muster, ostentation and pride, while penguins tuxedo or huddle (I kid you not). Young penguins gather in a Créche, just like human toddlers, and seagulls squabble.
Starlings form beautiful murmurations and chatterings, while swifts scream and tigers ambush. I’d love to see a zeal of zebras, but not so much a prickle of porcupines. Whales pod while trout hover and stingrays fever; snails walk, frogs knot and, believe it or not, rattlesnakes rhumba! Elephants gather as a memory, while deer gang and bucks clash, and gnus form an implausibility. Running into a mob of kangaroos might be quite pleasant, but not an intrusion of cockroaches!
There are hundreds more such collective nouns; English is an ever-changing language, but some things are just too good to allow them to go the way of the Dodo, so add a few more colourful expressions to your language, and enjoy the idiosyncrasies of English!
I’ll just add that, by now, my grammar-checking program is having a nervous breakdown.