Euphemistically Dead

Elephant-Ear

Humans have a real problem with dead.

Euphemisms abound to describe the state in humans.

We don’t refer to other dead things with quite the same measure of delicacy, however.

Mummy

As long as stuff stays stuck to the thing it died on, it’s dead.

When we chop it off, stick it in a vase, and bring it indoors,

Dead-as-a-Door-Nail stuff magically becomes Dried.

Roses-three-BW

I am fairly certain I never heard anybody say of a dried flower arrangement,

What lovely dead flowers!  

These roses are the newest of the dead stuff.

Yucca-on-Table

I kept a fair number of dead things for years.

I still have this Yucca fruit.

Most of them got too dusty and were thrown out, however.

The oldest dead thing I have now is an open cotton boll.

Cotton

It looks exactly as it did the day I broke it off in the field

Some twenty years ago

I figure I saved it from a rather inglorious end

 In Q-Tipdom.

Seed-Pod-Sepia

And, of course, there is the seed pod sarcophagus.

The mummy inside is a bit fragile

But the empty sarcophagus will survive for years

Assuming that some over-zealous housekeeper

Doesn’t mistake it for rubbish.

(I chuckle to think of the comparison to archaeologist-grave-robbers, fancy coffins, and dried corpses)

Egg

A friend gave me this little Silkie chicken egg.

I kept it in the refrigerator for several years.

One day, I discovered that the chick inside had apparently mummified.

Now, when I shake it, the inside rolls around like a large marble.

Stamen

These stamens probably won’t dry into anything recognizable

But, unlike all the fuss surrounding Napoleon’s shriveled part,

Nobody will care one whit.

This post was inspired by a book I am reading that chronicles

The misadventures of famous dried, uh, dead people.

Rest in Pieces, The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

By Bess Lovejoy

🙂

Note:  This post was published in The Woven Tale Press

 

55 Comments on “Euphemistically Dead

  1. What an interesting post and striking photos. Love the whole dead/dried motif! Our photo editor recommended you; I’d love to use this post in our upcoming issue of The Woven Tale Press. You can see our most recent issue here: http://thewoventalepress.net
    You can email me at editor@thewoventalepress.net Hope to hear from you! Sandra Tyler

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    • Thanks, Sandra. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Use anything you like from my blog. It’s free. Chuckle…
      I like The Woven Tale Press. Just visited and enjoyed.
      🙂

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  2. Gives new meaning to the thought of liking my eggs well done! Love the cotton ball and the roses though 🙂 I saw a cotton field in Greece once but it was next to a military base and we were told that stopping meant risking getting shot at … so I *still* haven’t seen a cotton ball close up. Darn… another place another chance one day I hope.

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  3. I was enjoying the ‘macabre’, George, till I got to your poor little chick! 😦 Stunning images, love!
    I’ll stick with the happy survivor- the cotton 🙂

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    • HI, Jo! Actually, I think its a yolk, perhaps fertilized, but certainly not a chick. She gave me the eggs to eat. 🙂 Thanks for stopping in to visit. I appreciate that. 🙂

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  4. Indiana Jones and the Silkie Egg of George. 😀
    Excellent sequence. Thought provoking & beautiful. Reminded me of ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner.

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    • Hi, Joseph! You know, that deathlike rose room in Miss Emily’s house might just have something to do with my aversion to the smell of roses! That and early childhood sensory memory of funerals. Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

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  5. Yes, I like dead flowers, as my daughter often points out to me… there are things dead that have an aesthetic appeal. But not all dead things. Some are bizarre, or cold… or threatening. It’s a very basic instinct of human beings to hang on to life… very scary to a lot of people, the thought that our existence in this world is temporary. So we often soften the words or the sentences, avoiding the thought as much as we can.

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    • Yep. Sometimes, I think our softening of reality is kind. Sometimes, it annoys me. When death comes unexpectedly or tragically, I think it is particularly difficult for us to comprehend or accept. I am thinking here of expected, and therefore acceptable, death as part of the life cycle. Yes, humans have tried desperately to immortalize themselves. With not a great deal of success. Chuckle. I am always reminded of the line from Ozymandias, “…the lone and level sands stretch far away”. Somehow, that line is reassuring to me.

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  6. Love this post, George! Funny, and oh so true. I like the way you processed your images, too. Perfect for your commentary. The book sounds really interesting. I’ll have to see if I can find it at my local library. 🙂

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    • Hi, Robin. Glad you liked the photos. Yes, the book is interesting, easy to read, short episodes, good for killing time, and trivia. I downloaded it on the Kindle and read while I wait here and there. I have a rather black sense of humor, but I’m glad nobody seems offended by it. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to chat!

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  7. valuable thoughts and images, we are odd with ‘dead’ aren’t we … I even wonder what it means … since there is still ‘stuff’ there after ‘life’ has departed … great post 🙂

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    • Thanks, Christine. Yes, we have a whole body of unwritten social rules of speech and behavior surrounding death and dying. I think we are not sufficiently evolved spiritually to treat either in very healthy ways. You might enjoy reading “How We Die” by Sherwin B. Nuland. Thanks for stopping by to chat. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

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  8. I enjoy riding on your coattails! So many laughs, and interspersed with really good photographs! The cotton boll and the 2nd are my favorites – so funny about saving the cotton from Q-tipdom. Thanks for the entertainment!

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    • And, thanks for the visit, Lynn. I admit that I have a very strange sense of humor. Black Humor. I didn’t figure that cotton would make it into a fine shirt since it didn’t grow up in Egypt… Chuckle… Glad you liked the photos too. I just encountered some really fine poetry on your blog. Images too!

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  9. This post makes us think about dead in a different way with amazing photos to illustrate your thoughts. Dead flowers are always rather sad but I tend to keep them until they really are gone. I must get a copy of the book you are reading as it was mentioned on a blog that I follow that is all about cemeteries. Death is mostly in black and white to me. Well done! Enjoy your reading while picking up Charlie!

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Jo Nell. I don’t have a “thing” about death and dying or dead things. Including people. Comes from my old social worker days, I guess, and living pretty close to the bone. I never liked cut flowers, but I’ve enjoyed Kelli’s dying and dead roses and tulips! 🙂 You’ll enjoy the book. I downloaded it to the Kindle and read a snippet or two while I wait wherever I am. It’s really good for that. I can’t recall what I read fifteen minutes later, but I have enjoyed the stories. Some interesting stuff about where these people are buried too. Cemeteries abound in it, of course… 🙂 Thanks for the visit, Jo Nell. Yes! It’s warmer. Maybe spring really is here!

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  10. You’ve done it again, George! These mono photos are just wonderful – I love the medium of course, but I equally love the wonderful images you’ve made with it. I can’t pick a favourite because several are near that, but the second and third photos down in particular attract my gaze.

    And I so agree with what you’ve written, we certainly do have a problem with dead, be it humans or anything else. As a culture, we Westerners have been unaccustomed to death, uneasy in its company, and we seek ways and names that will soften it, that will make it seem like something else. A good example is right here – badly injured racehorses are never killed, or even humanely killed, in the UK, there are always “put down” – which doesn’t seem so bad, which makes us feel that little bit better about it all.

    And when people talk of their own deaths, others don’t want to hear, saying that that’s far off, not wanting to contemplate it – and I’m as guilty of this as anyone else – but I was struck when I broached this topic with my daughter during general conversation – it was almost as if I’d said something very distasteful.

    So write and photograph on, George, I’m always enthralled and delighted by your posts – and this one is no exception! Adrian 🙂

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    • Ah, Adrian. You are so nice to me. Glad you liked the mono. It’s hard for me to convert color to mono since I am a color person. Well, death has been such a part of my professional life as well as my personal life that it has lost its sting. We talk about the practical implications of death in my family. People are “dead”. We don’t say they have “passed away”. There are many things to be done about dying and death for everybody. Since nobody escapes it, plans and arrangements should be understood. Actually, few people just drop dead. Death is more likely to follow serious illness. We all have to deal with that. It’s simply much less painful and frightening if we deal with it and talk about it openly. Death is a part of life. So is dying. It is very sad that we deny both. That cultural attitude leaves the dying person in a terrible isolated place just when he needs to talk about his situation. Oh well, I’m an old social worker. I realize that not everybody else views life or death in the same way that I do. Chuckle…

      I don’t know how to write anything except what I see and what I think, Adrian. And, that will have to do. 🙂

      Thanks for the visit and the good conversation. I always look forward to your visits.

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      • Are you really a former social worker, George? I was in social services too, tho on the statistics side, not as an actual social worker. And you just keep on keeping on, lady, writing about what you see and think, because I can honestly say that your’s is the most enthralling and downright human blog that I know – it is a breath of fresh air, a breath of life, and I look forward to every post. Take good care, my friend! Adrian

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    • Hi, Peaches! I am so happy that you like the photos. I am experimenting with black and white. I have to admit that it’s very hard for me to convert color to black and white. I know the mono has its own appeal, but my soul requires color, I think. Thanks for stopping by to visit. You always make me feel good about my posts! 🙂

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  11. My Mother-in-Law gets quite put-out if someone is referred to as being “passed away,” they’re DEAD, she exclaims! I think you would like her. You do have a gift with words, George, and sooooo funny! Sorry I’ve been under the radar, haha, or should I say GONE! I’ve been visiting our daughter in Los Angeles….very challenging to focus on blogging out there!! (Your blog was my first stop.)

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    • Ah, thanks, Elisa! I’ve missed you. I figured you were in Los Angeles. I’m glad you enjoyed my tongue-in-cheek post. I’m afraid I do share your mother-in-law’s view of the dead. Chuckle… I hope you came home with lots of images to share. Thanks for stopping by to visit! 🙂

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      • Ha, thanks George! It’s good to be back and away from all the traffic…although I’ve just hopped from one gridlocked city to another. I do have some photos to share, but not too many. It’s just so darned sunny out there all the time, everything starts looking the same. The visiting was the good part! 🙂

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        • I know you enjoyed the visit. I’m glad you’re back home, too. Atlanta is a gridlocked city, for sure. I used to drive through there on the way to NC. It wasn’t so bad thirty years ago, though. 🙂

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    • What a great compliment! Thanks so much, BD. I’m glad you liked the photos! 🙂 And, thanks for stopping by to visit. I appreciate it.

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  12. I’m so glad to see this post. You’re absolutely right about dead and humans not liking dead. But your images of dead are fantastic. 🙂 It’s a great collection. The second shot is my most favorite. I just love that one. And I really like the reshoot of the cotton boll. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Lemony. I’m glad you looked at the photos and made me reshoot the cotton boll. I can be sloppy and lazy, you know. 🙂
      I knew the umbrella leaf would be your favorite. It reminds me of old iron ornaments. Humans do have a real problem with death. We should just get over it. 😉

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    • Thanks, Ray. I’m glad you liked it. I’m able to reply quickly now since you fixed my Chrome misbehavior! Thanks for logging in and working your magic! 🙂

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    • Thanks, RoSy. I don’t really collect anything. I just happened to have some dead stuff lying around… Chuckle… Have a great weekend! 🙂

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  13. Loving your post – interesting book to read too – ha! I use to be really into this in my teens and now I collect rocks, sea glass, sand dollars and sea shells. Happy Weekend:)

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    • The book is something I read in spurts when I am waiting to pick up my grandson. Short stories about famous corpses. It’s amazing what happens to the famous dead. I don’t really collect anything. This stuff just happened to interest me so I kept it. Thanks for stopping by to visit! 🙂

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  14. Ha … you’re the best George … what a wonderfully irreverent post … totally love it! I love it when folks tell it like it is. More power to ya. Encore please. D

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    • Thanks, Farmer. I’m glad you enjoyed the BS. 😉 I have a very black sense of humor, I’m afraid… The kind doctors enter on your chart as “exhibits inappropriate humor”. Chuckle… Believe it or not, I try to restrain myself here. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

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  15. I loved the photos. As you know, I have always liked dried things like seed pods, found things of all sorts I guess. I’m not quite as charmed by death discussions since I’ve achieved my 75th year!!!! I’m sending an email to you about my photo.

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    • Thanks, Linda. I’m glad you liked the photos. Ha-ha! Yeah, we’re uncomfortably closer to the end than to the middle. It seems impossible that we’re this old! 😉

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  16. I read this to my wife, sitting just one recliner from me. She had a genuine laugh out loud. You are as clever as you are wonderful. I’m pretty sure I love you George.

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    • Ha-ha! I’m glad you and Judy got a laugh out of it. I have a very macabre sense of humor. When I used to tell Dean to be careful since I needed him around, he’d tell me to just stuff him and stand him in the corner! It became a stock joke between us. He ended up in his urn on the fireplace mantle beside Lucy (Mom). I couldn’t imagine Dean standing in a corner anywhere, dead or alive. Chuckle… I’m pretty sure you are about as lovable as a guy gets. 😉 Thanks, Mike.

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      • That’s interesting because I tell Judy to keep my ashes when the time comes. I don’t want them scattered, I want them to be close to her.
        You are a good one George. Love to Cheeky.

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        • Before Lucy died, I asked her if she wanted to be cremated and stay at home with me. That was a great comfort to her at the end of her life. Dean’s beloved dog died a couple of years after he did. I had her cremated and her ashes put in his urn. All of us have some symbolic thing we want to do at the end, I think. Cheeks sends a peck…

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    • Thanks, Colline. I’m glad you like them. I’ve been experimenting with black and white recently. These were fun. Thanks for stopping by to visit! 🙂

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  17. Loving your dead things. I have a collection myself but, mostly, I prefer stones. I have jars of stones everywhere, collected from all over the world and kept, much to Commando’s annoyance. There is alabaster picked up from the ground in Egypt, a round pebble from Agadir, granite from France, a ball of larva from Lanzarote to mention just a few. It feels like I’m keeping a little part of each place with me though. Funny the things we collect.

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    • Yes, people do collect odd stuff. Your collection is beautiful, I know. You should photograph and post them. Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you liked my “dead stuff”. Chuckle…

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    • Thanks, Naomi. I’m glad you got a chuckle out of it. I’ve always been a little amused by our attitudes about death and dead stuff. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to visit!

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    • Thanks, Carissa! I’m glad you like the photos. I’ve been experimenting with mono lately. Not my thing since I love color, but I kind of like black and white sometimes. I thought about this as I was reading the funny stories about the fate of famous corpses. That book is funny and interesting. 🙂

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