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A-Z Reflections, year 4....

A-Z blogging challenge for 2014 has come and gone, seemingly without my realizing it. And, though I fell behind once or twice toward the end, I finished this year's challenge right on time. Really, I can't believe it's already over. I feel like I just finished my post for letter A...

Year 4, for this blogger, was a far cry from the tortured state of despondency that was most of Year 3-- I'll not mention the irony of this year's focus on death being easier to blog about than last year's foray into supernatural creatures, we'll leave that for my therapy sessions *ahem*
As always, A-Z brought with it, not only 26 days of unbridled and far-reaching knowledge (disguised as entertaining and thought-provoking blog-posts), but a chance to connect with new faces while reconnecting with familiar faces--who had perhaps drifted away--from A-Z's past. 
I am always amazed by the ingenuity and inspiration that comes from lumping a couple thousand folks together all wi…

Z is for...

... Zoonosis


The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe



Ending this year's A-Z on a morbidly good note, I introduce to you, Zoonosis!

This cool little name is given to the process whereby humans contract certain diseases from other non-human animals or where non-human animals contract diseases from humans....since we learned all about sharing in preschool----

And, boy, do we know how to share! In a review of over 1,100 pathogens, an incredible 61% were Zoonotic. So, for all those elitists out there who declare humans 'above' animals, looks like we're lumped right in with them when you're talking about exciting things like disease control.

I'm not going to list all the crazy diseases out there that we share with our furry, and not-so-furry neighbors. The list is depressingly long, and though this month's blog is all about the morbid/macabre, I rea…

Y is for...

... Yew Tree (Taxus baccata)


The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe




The Yew tree fits in the morbid/macabre ranks for a couple of reasons. First off, it's toxic. Most parts of the plant are deadly, but most deadly is the foliage--- especially if the foliage has been dried, this increases its lethal potency.

Secondly, the Yew is often connected with cemeteries. In fact, it's often planted in cemeteries throughout Europe and many older Yew trees have had their trunks carved out to open the tree up as a chapel in the cemetery. It isn't exactly known if the connection of Yew trees to cemeteries arose from the trees naturally long life or because its toxicity made it a symbol of death. Regardless, there are probably very few European cemeteries that don't have at least one Yew tree.

It's hard, though, to treat the Yew as an emblem of death when it is so l…

X is for...

... X-Ray


The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe



For most, X-rays are fairly innocuous---at least as far as the procedure goes--- there is of course an added risk of cancer that comes from being irradiated repeatedly (but, what in this world DOESN'T cause cancer?)

So, you're probably asking why would I use X-ray in a blog whose theme is devoted to the morbid/macabre.

Why?

 First off, it is a tad morbid that we can see our insides without being opened up. We are at once presented with all the bits and pieces that make us up and that make up our neighbors and our enemies---we aren't too different when you break everything down on a cellular level. When you're talking about X-rays in terms of broken bones or torn ligaments or other such painful things, we are reminded (when we see the shards of bone pushing through skin) that we are made of a very "bre…

W is for...

... Wallingford Ghost, George Inn--Teardrop Room



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe


Okay, so letter "W" is hard. This really isn't so much a morbid/macabre story as it is a dark/sad story---but, quite a few people find dark/sad synonymous with morbid/macabre, so I'm taking poetic license...or whatever it's called.

The story of the Wallingford ghost is a sad one, like all ghost stories. At the George Inn in Wallingford, England there is a room colloquially known as the Teardrop Room. This 16th century coaching inn, still a functioning hotel today, has its share of ancient ghost tales surrounding the building. But, one in particular draws quite a bit of sympathy.

A few hotel guests staying in the Teardrop Room have reported waking in the middle of the night to find a very life-like young woman with tears streaming down her face. The only movement…

V is for...

... Vrolik Museum



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe




How about a morbid museum?

Still used by the medical faculty and students at the University of Amsterdam, the Vrolik Museum is a unique collection of odd bones and skulls, pathogenic specimens, and an assortment of anomalous embryos.

The collection was amassed by Dutch anatomist, Gerardus Vrolik (1775-1859) and continued by his son, Dutch anatomist and pathologist, Willem Vrolik (1801-1863). And since Willem's death, various donations have expanded the collection even further. Most specimens are human, though a few zoological specimens have trickled into the collection. Preserved remains, plaster casts, and various models show an assortment of congenital deformities and malformations.

This is one of those places that isn't for the faint of heart---certainly not for those who are easily moved or triggered by…

U is for...

... Underground



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe


Nothing more morbid than talking about funerals, right?

So, let's talk about the "after funeral", you know, the part where you get lowered into a 4-ft deep hole, covered with dirt, and left for eternity (if underground burial is the route you wish to go and your city/town/state/country allows it). Assuming there isn't a dig-your-relative-up-after-60-years mandate, like there is in South Korea, or a grave re-use clause in your burial agreement, and assuming no future land developments disrupt the cemetery grounds centuries after the "cemetery" is forgotten, this will be the final resting place for your physical form until the Sun Supernovas and the universe starts over again.

Graveyards became established around the same time that physical buildings of worship were constructed--as early as…

T is for...

... Taxidermy



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe




Few things are more morbid than the stuffed remains of an animal...especially for display purposes. I can understand the specimens used in teaching facilities (I've actually preserved a few reptiles myself while working my way through my Biology degree) or in museum settings. The "animals" in these instances might be the only chance you have to see such a creature up close. But, the collection of stuffed animals for any other reason, is slightly disturbing----

The art of Taxidermy (for it TRULY is an art when done well) has been around a while. There has been evidence of preserved animal remains since early Egyptian times. Though, this wasn't true Taxidermy, it was mummification. But, the theory was headed in the right direction.

It wasn't until the lovely, yet highly morbid, Victorian Age that T…

S is for...

... Scold's Bridle



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe

So this was a lovely little device, primarily used on women, as a means of torture or public humiliation. It was essentially a human muzzle. It was fixed around the woman's head, with a 2-in bridle-bit that projected backward so that it rested inside the woman's mouth---specifically atop her tongue. The bit was studded with spikes, which left a lovely impression on a woman's tongue if she were to try and speak.

Apparently, this was the "in thing" to do during the 16th and 17th centuries when a woman spoke her mind. Let a woman be declared a nag or a gossip or a "scold" and she could face being walked through town with a metal plate strapped to her face with a piercing bit in her mouth. It was not unheard of for churches to be gifted inscribed bridles, "to curb women's t…

R is for...

... Rubinke (Maria Rubinke)



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe



Maria Rubinke lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. She's a lovely young artist known for her grotesque ceramic sculptures---- in other words, she's a girl after my own heart. I'm not going to say much more on this post. I think I'll let Ms Runbinke's work speak for itself-----

Please, go to her page and appreciate all the beauty. She has a website which is currently under construction. Hopefully it will be up and running soon.

In the meantime-----

Just click on the pics below to enlarge for all the glorious detail!









































All art and photos are credited to the artist, Maria Rubinke.

The only thing I take credit for is introducing you to the loveliness that is Maria Rubinke and her delectable art.... you're welcome!



Q is for...

... Quicklime


The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe


Yeah, so today's morbid/macabre A-Z post is a bit of a stretch...but, hey, it's letter "Q", what can you do?

There really isn't anything remotely morbid about Quicklime ----but, it's been used in some pretty morbid circumstances, so it fits...sort of.

Calcium oxide is just an ordinary-looking white powdery substance that packs a bit of a bite. Let this stuff get in some water and the resulting chemical reaction puts off quite a bit of heat. Which is why it comes with the "handle-with-care" warning---just imagine the lovely burns you'd be sporting if you picked some of it up with sweaty palms....

But, I digress...

No, the morbid "quality" of quicklime is that some criminals, over the years, have gotten it into their heads that, because calcium oxide is caustic, it must …

P is for...

... Poveglia Island


The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe


A sunny little spot off the coast of Italy, just the perfect vacation destination for those interested in a cozy private island....that no one in their right mind should even think about visiting---

Poveglia Island has been billed the most haunted island in the world. Tucked away in Northern Italy, nestled in the Adriatic Sea, and sheltered from prying eyes by the distance afforded it from Italy proper, this island has played host to some extremely morbid and dark past-times over the years.

When the Black Plague swept through Europe, the 17-acre strip of land took on the role of quarantine location. Small ships would carry those infected by the disease onto the island to try and reduce the number of those getting infected.

Doctors during this time, would strap on their ominous-looking "bird masks," stu…

O is for...

... Overtoun Bridge



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe

This one is a bit of a morbid mystery-- a depressingly morbid mystery. And, that's saying a lot, coming from me...

In West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, a 19th-century estate, Overtoun House, sits on a hill overlooking the River Clyde. The large, 2,000-acre estate is split by a waterfall on the Overtoun Burn. To connect the two sections of the estate, a road was built and the Overtoun Bridge erected.

Overtoun House is gorgeous, the estate picturesque. One would think a more heavenly place couldn't exist---but, all this beauty hides a dark secret--------- Overtoun Bridge is a killer! And not just your run-of-the-mill opportunistic killer either, nope this bridge is a serial killer with a penchant for canines.

Aptly-named, the-dog-suicide-bridge, Overtoun Bridge has developed a reputation for being the final
w…

N is for...

... Necropolis (Glasgow Necropolis)



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe







The word derived from the Ancient Greek word, nekropolis--literally meaning, City of the Dead--a necropolis is, by all rights, a cemetery, but, it is laid some distance from whatever town/place where its future residents currently dwell--instead of in the city proper, the way many modern cemeteries are laid. It was typically an ancient practice, to lay the deceased in a monument-filled "city" far enough away that the area was silent and reverent enough so noises from the "living" towns would not disturb.



A more recent necropolis, however, that I think deserves equal attention for its solemn beauty is the Glasgow Necropolis. Established in 1832 and some distance east of St. Mungo's Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland, this Necropolis is home to some 50,000 residents.


The cemetery…