Friday Feathers

These are from David who notes:

If it’s a murder of Crows


It’s a Parliament of Owls,

then surely it must be …

A brothel of shags?


©David Brindley, all rights reserved


©David Brindley, all rights reserved


To me a s a German, English collective nouns are both a delight and a bane. I mean, a pride of lions and a murmuration of starlings?

In German it’s quite easy: If it flies or swims, it’s a swarm (Schwarm), with the exception of marine mammals (they have Schule, schools like in English). Carnivores that hunt together are a Rudel, a pack like wolves. Grazers? Herde (herd). Trees? Forest, unless you’re my husband who once famously couldn’t remember “forest” and kept talking about a “pack of trees”.

Word Wednesday.



1: Clothed with worn or seeding garments.

2a: Threadbare and faced from wear. b: ill-kept: Dilapidated.

3a: Mean, Despicable, Contemptible <must feel shabby…because of his compromises – Nat Hentoff>
b: Ungenerous, unfair. c: Inferior in quality.

-shabbily, adverb.

-shabbiness, noun.

[Origin: obsolete English shab a low fellow.]


“She stole a glance round the office – the office of the senior partner of the firm. It suited Walter Fane, she decided. It was definitely old-fashioned, the furniture was shabby, but was made of good solid Victorian material.” – Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie.

Good Trolling.

After the ever idiotic Tiny Tyrant declared the EU to be the greatest foe of Amerikka, Merriam Webster jumped in with an excellent troll:

Let’s have a look at that full definition, shall we:

Definition of foe

1: one who has personal enmity for another

<Embrace, embrace, my Sons! be foes no more! —Alexander Pope>

2 a: an enemy in war b: adversary, opponent: a political foe

3: one who opposes on principle: a foe of needless expenditures, a foe of censorship

4: something prejudicial or injurious

Examples of foe in a Sentence:

Many considered him a foe of democracy.

Good one, Merriam & Webster! The tweet is here, the full definition here.

A Quick Note To A Searcher…

For the person who ended up here searching for “fuck for brains anglicanum coitibus”, it helps to have your terminology correct.  I have posted about Opus Anglicanum, which is a type and class of embroidery. What you’re looking for is Anglicanorum coitibus. Oh, the difference a couple of letters make. There’s a wiki about Personal Ordinariates and the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of 4 November 2009 and its complementary norms. Now you can try a search with the right term. Best of luck, and I hope the irony of “fuck for brains” didn’t hit you too hard.

Word Wednesday.



1: a mark or shallow hole made by a pointed instrument.

2a: a pointed instrument or weapon b: a sharp projecting organ or part.

3: an instance of pricking or the sensation of being pricked: as a: a nagging or sharp feeling of remorse, regret, or sorrow b: a slight sharply localized discomfort <the prick of a needle>.

4: usually vulgar: penis.

5: usually vulgar: a spiteful or contemptible man often having some authority.

[Origin: Middle English prikke, from Old English prica; akin to Middle Dutch pric prick.]

(before 12th Century).

“Stone shook his head. “Rapid’s not going to be the Wild West for too much longer, girls.” I could tell Madame was included in that “girls,” and it put my back up. She had years and miles on Dyer Stone, and brains to boot. But he had a prick, and inherited money, and a prick. I guess that gave him the right to lord it over her. – Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear.

Word Wednesday.


Adjective: affectedly pious or righteous <a canting moralist> [Origin: 5Cant.]



Adjective dialectal, England: Lively, Lusty. [Origin: Middle English, probably from Middle Low German kant.]

(14th Century)


Transitive verb.

1: to give a cant or oblique edge to: bevel.

2: to set at an angle: Tilt.

3: Chiefly British: to throw with a lurch.

Intransitive verb.

1: to pitch to one side: lean.

2: slope.

[Origin: ³Cant]

(Circa 1543)



1: Obsolete: corner, niche.

2: an external angle (as of a building).

3: a log with one or more squared sides.

4a: an oblique or slanting surface b: inclination, slope.

[Origin: Middle English cant side, probably from Middle Dutch or Middle French dialect; Middle Dutch, edge, corner, from Middle French dialectal (Picard), from Latin canthus, cantus iron tire, perhaps of Celtic origin; akin to Welsh cant rim; perhaps akin to Greek kanthos corner of the eye.]




1: having canted corners or sides.

2: inclined.



Intransitive verb.

1: to talk or beg in a whining or singsong manner.

2: to speak in cant or jargon.

3: to talk hypocritically.

[Origin: perhaps from Middle French dialect (Norman-Picard) canter to tell, literally, to sing from Latin cantare.]




1: affected singsong or whining speech.

2a: the private language of the underworld. b: obsolete: the phraseology peculiar to a religious class or sect. c: jargon.

3: a set or stock phrase.

4: the expression or repetition of conventional or trite opinions or sentiments; especially: the insincere use of pious words.


“You could certainly call it that,” said Cornish. “Pompous, canting old hypocrite!” he went on. “Everybody’s got it in for him. Throws his weight about, ultra sanctimonious, and neck deep in graft for years past!” – The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, Agatha Christie.

Word Wednesday.



1: secrecy

2: confusion, muddle

[Origin: one of a number of similar-sounding reduplicated words in use around this time and meaning much the same thing, including hucker-mucker, which may be the original of the bunch if the root is, as some think, Middle English mukre “to hoard up, conceal.”]



1: secret

2: of a confused or disorderly nature: jumbled.

-hugger-mugger adverb.

“No, her book would hold a dark mirror to such conceits. Since Mother Eve’s day, women had whispered of herb lore and crafty potions, the wise woman’s weapons against the injustices of life; a life of ill treatment, the life of a dog. If women were to be kicked into the kitchen they might play it to their advantage, for what was a kitchen but a witch’s brewhouse? Men had no notion of what women whispered to each other, hugger-mugger by the chimney corner; of treaclish syrups and bitter pods, of fat black berries and bulbous roots.  – A Taste for Nightshade, Martine Bailey.

Word Wednesday.



1: serving to alleviate pain.

2: not likely to offend or arouse tensions: innocuous.

[Origin: Latin anodynos, from Greek anōdynos, from a- + odynē pain.]



1: something that soothes, calms, or comforts.

2: a drug that allays pain.


“Well,” I said, “look at this way. Some collectors are only interested in things that are like new, factory fresh, mint in the box. If something looks like it’s had a life before they got their hands on it, it loses its value. But then, other people believe that an object’s worth more if it’s been used for whatever it was designed for, so a stamp should have been stuck to an envelope and posted to somewhere a long way away, and a comic book is meant to be read and enjoyed, not sealed in a protective case and never opened, and an old racing car should be scuffed and grimy and—” with no particular emphasis “—scarred. And it’s the same with people. How much time do you think you’d want to spend with Barbie and Ken? Anodyne, by definition, is not entertaining.” – Normal, Graeme Cameron.

Book Note: This was one of the weirdest books I’ve read, a slice of life story, with the main character being a serial killer. You never know his name, and he’s never described. The book is filled with black humour, but the casual cruelty of the character is never disguised in any way. This is also a story of how everything starts to go wrong in his life, in a very big way. The book is written in such a way that the main character is often amusing, and finds himself in a situation you can sympathise with, which makes the reading a bit uncomfortable. Altogether, it’s an engaging and entertaining read. There are a number of different cops involved in the story too, and the second book is just fresh out, centering on Detective Sergeant Ali Green, who was very present in Normal. That one is called Dead Girls. I haven’t finished it yet, but there’s considerably more tension in the second book.

Word Wednesday.

Lurid / Roué



1a: causing horror or revulsion: gruesome; b: melodramatic, sensational, also: shocking.

2a: wan and ghastly pale in appearance. b: of any of several light or medium grayish colours ranging in hue from yellow to orange.

3: shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke or cloud.

-luridly, adverb.

-luridness, noun.

[Origin: Latin luridus pale yellow, sallow.]


Note: I have to say, this held surprises for me. I have never considered lurid to be light, let alone pale yellow! Lurid has always come across as very bold to me; daring and/or scandalous simply doesn’t scream pale or pastel to my mind. I never pictured it as a person being wan or ghastly pale, either. “His face was lurid.” Nope, that doesn’t sound right at all.

Are my expectations possibly getting a little lurid? she wondered. Not really. After all, there is someone out to get me.” – The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman.



A man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure: Rake.

[Origin: French, literally, broken on the wheel, from Medieval Latin rotare, from Latin, to rotate; from the feeling that such a person deserves this punishment.]


Note: I found the origin of this fascinating.

“Don’t be,” Vale said, his tone as caustic as he could make it. “I hardly enjoy the experience. Your are one of the most notorious roués in London.” – The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman.

Z Is For Zinnia.


Zinnias make for wonderful summertime garden flowers, attracting all kinds of pollinators and many birds which feed on their seeds. Snails (and slugs) also seem to like them, not only the flowers but especially the seedlings. It’s kind of a spring tradition for me, sow zinnias and hand-pick snails and slugs around them every night until they grow to a certain stage or until snails estivate. This photo was taken in November, when snails are active again, and some zinnias are still standing.

Oh, what a poignant and beautiful photo! Click for full size.

© Nightjar, all rights reserved.

X Is For Xerophyte and Xerófito.

Xerophyte. Xerófito.

Xerophytes are drought-adapted plants, commonly found in environments where water is scarce.  An example is the cactus Opuntia ficus-indica. The fruits, seen here, are delicious but harvesting and peeling them can be quite tricky because of all the small spines, it is almost guaranteed that at least one will find its way into your skin no matter how careful you are (speaking from experience here). Bonus wasp!

The wasp looks so tiny! Click for full size.

© Nightjar, all rights reserved.