Gr-Gr-Uncle’s Sad Fate

Our Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was WIDOWMAKER. I’ve never heard of this word, though I grasped the idea soon enough. Still, what might I might write in response to this prompt?

About ten minutes later our cat, Angus, came around the corner of the house with a mouse in his jaws. He rushed up the steps, intending to bring his prize inside, but that’s not allowed. The creature’s tail hung limp and lifeless, but you never know. They can fake it until the chance comes to dash under some furniture.

Anyway, my mind went back to the prompt and I thought, “Okay, here’s a tale…”

Widow-Makers

“”Quiet, children! Did you hear that sound?” Our mother trembled. Most of us froze, ears alert to the faint sound coming down through our tree stump.

Some of our siblings were still tumbling around, pulling each others’ tails. “Stop squeaking,” she hissed, reaching over to box their ears. “Everyone listen.”

The plucking, rasping sound was louder now and we all trembled a bit, wondering what it could be. She started shoving us into the corner farthest away from the door, whispering, “Don’t any of you dare squeak, or put so much as a whisker out the door.”

We all huddled in the corner until the sound stopped. Still Mother wouldn’t let us move around for a long time after.

“Mother, what was that sound,” one of our sisters finally asked.

“That, little ones, is the sound of THE CAT, a furious beast, sharpening its claws on a tree nearby. We must be silent whenever it’s near because if it hears any rustling, that monster will be over here in a flash, reaching in to snag whoever it can.”

By now we were all trembling. We’d heard many fur-raising tales about “THE CAT.”

Mother’s whiskers twitched wildly as she described the beast. “Its claws are viciously barbed. We call them widow-makers. Few mice ever escape those clutches. THE CAT has massacred dozens of our relatives.” She began wringing her hands “I do hope your father and brothers are safe. Snitching grain from the harvest field won’t be worth it if they lose their lives doing it.”

After awhile Father and our brothers came back and we could all relax. They told us all how they’d seen THE CAT and had hidden in another stump until the beast had moved on. Our brothers described THE CAT for us: a big furry monster with fiery golden eyes, HUGE paws and a long tail that it whipped around constantly. Oh, we were glad they hadn’t fallen prey to a beast like that!

But the sad news went round that evening when we mice gathered among the trees to visit our clan. We’d lost our great-great-uncle to THE CAT. Our great-great aunt is years younger than gr-gr-uncle and has perfect hearing; she shuddered as told us how she’d squealed a warning to him, but gr-gr-uncle hadn’t understood it. He’d poked his head out to see what was making that noise and spotted the cat. He’s kind of slow in his old age and didn’t duck back inside soon enough. THE CAT spied him and dived toward their hole, reaching in to snag gr-gr-uncle with its vicious barbs and carry him away in its jaws.

The mouse clan offered many sympathies to great-great-aunt, another widow in the daily battle for mouse survival. We’re all twice as cautious now. None of us want to be caught by those widow-maker claws.

Painting Pizzazz

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PIZZAZZ, and I will add my little contribution to the collection.

“Paint with PIZZAZZ,” the book instructor encouraged. “Be BOLD and BOHEMIAN! Don’t let yourself be bound by the need to render realistically.”

So I slashed, swirled and daubed bold colors on the canvas — and it was so much fun! I whipped up a sea of wild waves and whitecaps, then swizzled in a sky full of menacing clouds. Lastly I added a small sailing ship in the distance, plowing its way through this terrible fury.

I proudly showed my painting to my first art critic.
“Are those white things supposed to be fish?” he asked.
“Fish? Those are whitecaps.”
“They look like white fish trying to jump into the boat.”
Back at the easel, I tried to make the waves more realistic.

I proudly showed my stormy scene to the next art critic.
“Your ship is too level. The bow should be dipping into the trough of that wave.”
“Maybe,” I replied.

Concluding I don’t possess enough pizzazz, my next effort was a vase that looked like a vase and flowers that looked like flowers. Someday I’ll try doing the boat-on-stormy-sea again – with proper whitecaps – and dip its bow down into the trough of a big wave.

Curiously enough, that painting is one of my favorites. Maybe because it looks WILD — and was FUN. I may just do wild and fun again sometime. 🙂

Inspiring Verse

I wonder if this verse was Mr Guest’s answer to Rudyard Kipling’s famous verse, IF? Read IF here.

DUTY

by Edgar Guest

To do your little bit of toil,
to play life’s game with head erect;
to stoop to nothing that would soil
your honor or your self-respect;
to win what gold and fame you can,
but first of all to be a man.

To know the bitter and the sweet,
the sunshine and the days of rain;
to meet both victory and defeat,
nor boast too loudly nor complain;
to face whatever fates befall
and be a man throughout it all.

To seek success in honest strife
but not to value it so much
that, winning it, you go through life
stained by dishonor’s scarlet touch.
What goal or dream you choose, pursue,
but be a man whatever you do!

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

The Essential E

Rye Regular
and conclude that the letter E holds pride of place in the English language.

You can’t SUCCEED, PROCEED, or even ENTER without it! Yes, the lowly E is NEEDFUL, REQUIRED — the KEYSTONE, EVEN, for most English words.

Fans of cryptograms can tell you that the letter E, and the combo of

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are the first things they look for when setting out to solve the puzzle.

That said, did you know “English” started out milleniums ago meaning a fishhook?

The Angles, a West Germanic people who immigrated to the British Isles, hailed from the Angul district of Schleswig, which is just south of modern Denmark. Their homeland, part of the Jutland peninsula, was shaped somewhat like a fishhook so its inhabitants used their word for fishhook to refer to their country. When they sailed across the sea they brought this name along, plus the words angler and angling. They weren’t the only Germanic people who came and decided to stay; the squeezed-out locals tarred them all with the same brush: Anglo-Saxons.

An Ethnic Legend:
We have a friend whose parents immigrated to Canada from Denmark. When she was young, her father told her that the original inhabitants of Britain couldn’t talk; their only communication was grunts and squeaks. He claimed the Angles were the ones who taught the British how to talk. I’m not sure where he learned this bit of history, but we took it with a grain of sea salt.

The Dreadful D’s

Today we’ll dither over

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Thinking about this letter brings to mind a host of depressing words:
Degenerate
Degraded
Demented
Depraved
Depressed
Detest
Dissipated
Dissolute
Drivel

This clever image is by Piyapong Saydaung — Pixabay

Looking on the bright side,

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Words like DAYLIGHT, DAPPER, DARLING, DEAR, DECENT + DELIGHTFUL
help to balance the scale. One of the more appealing D words that comes to my mind is…

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Image by Radoslaw Ciesla — Pixabay

And then there’s

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Which can mean…
Academic, bookish, cerebral, civilized, cultured, enlightened, erudite, highbrow, intellectual, informed, knowledgeable, lettered, pedantic, polished, refined, scholarly, schooled, skilled, trained, versed, well bred.

Pixabay image

In other words, don’t ask DIDACTS to explain what they mean unless you have a lot of time to hear them out.

To Be- or not to Be-

Today let’s take a look at the letter

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This letter brings forth a bounty of delightful words, some very plain like BETTER and BEST, some more intense, like BANDITTI, those dreadful BUSHWHACKERS. And then there are the be- words like BEHEST, BEGET, BEGONE, BENIGHTED, BERATE, BETRAY, BETOSS, BETRAMPLE, BEWARE. You can probably think of many more.

And BI- words…And BY-words.

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Image by Capri23 Auto — Pixabay

Did you know that the word BRUSQUE is derived from the name of an unpleasant spine-covered shrub called “the butcher’s broom”? The Latin name, bruscum became the Italian brusco and the meaning morphed into sharp , tart, or sour. The French adopted it as BRUSQUE, and understood it to mean fierce or lively. We Anglophones kept the French version, but added an adaptation of our own for good measure: the word BRISK.

And now a lively little verse that I penned on Saturday, when FLAMFOO was the prompt at Word of the Day..

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I’ve never been a flamfoo,
just do enough to pass;
a shower and a shampoo,
bedecked in simple class.

Never tried to look bepranked
in duds that gleam or flash,
nor as a fashion-plate be ranked
I’d rather bank my cash.

Wash and wear” is my one speed
and minimum my taste;
bedizenments I don’t need,
those primps and perms a waste.

You may lament my brusquerie,
berate my spartan leaning,
but I’ll bypass the frippery,
let others do the preening.