A Fistful of Shadows

I am interested in how long we humans have been talking about shadows, creating things with shadows and using shadows in art.

I’ve found it has been a very long time.

About the 4th Century BCE Plato used the ‘Allegory of the Cave’ in his work, The Republic, to highlight how a philosopher is like the man freed from a cave – he can experience actual reality instead of just watching the shadows of reality on the cave walls.

Wow –  that goes way back in time.

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The light and shadow depicted  by an artist helps convey the mood or emotion of the piece to his or her audience.

Shadows appear in paintings during the 15th Century. Renaissance artists made good use of shadows to evoke mood as well as perspective.

Lorenzo di Credi ( 1459 – 1537) is just one example of a Renaissance artist who made use of shadows in his paintings.

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Ludovico  Carracci (1555 – 1619) was an early Baroque painter who also made good use of shadows.

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Jan van Eyck (1395 – 1441) was a Flemish painter considered one of the best Northern European painters of the 15th Century. He also used shadows in his paintings.

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This piece from Honore Daumier (1808-1879) uses shadow to give the figures their shape.

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Shadows have also transferred to our more modern media – TV, film and radio.

Who remembers Swing Time (1936) when Fred Astaire used Shadow dancing for the ‘Bo jangles in Harlem’ sequence?

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In some instances shadows have taken on more negative connotations.

Remember the movie Nosferatu when the Vampyre is creeping up the steps in the dark of night?

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And what about TV?

Who can forget the cult classic of the 1960’s-1970’s  Dark Shadows and its star, Barnabas Collins?

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And Radio? Remember this? “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

The opening words of the Detective Story Hour Radio Show which began in 1930 and was reborn into the show most people remember airing from 1937-1954.

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People have fun playing with shadows too. Have you ever used your hands to make shadow puppets on a wall?

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Shadows are popular in modern art too.

British-born and -based artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster make incredible shadow art from junk.

Their piece, Dirty White Trash (With Gulls) is 6 months worth of refuse plus 2 dead Seagulls.

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It looks like shadows will continue to be used as focal points in all forms of media.

It’s a good thing too, because I like them.

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It’s 2013 and I Need a Really Good New Year’s Resolution!

I thought I would start by doing a quick internet search to see what was out there, but researching the top 10 best New Year’s resolutions is harder than it sounds.

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Wow – 277 million results for the 10 best.

What the heck?

It seems like everyone has an opinion on the 10 best. There are top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for cities and states, countries and cultures; not to mention resolutions for athletes, teachers, artists and yes, even for pets.

I asked people I know for their top 10 resolutions, but couldn’t come up with any clear winners for the top 10 slots. There are many lists of the most common resolutions:

1. Exercise more

2. Lose weight

3. Eat healthier

4. Take up or restart a hobby/activity/skill

5. Quit smoking

6. Find a better life/work balance

7. Volunteer

8. Save money

9. Get organized

10. Read more books

I don’t want just the mundane… the ‘been there, done that’ resolutions. I want something really cool and totally awesome!

I kept digging into those 277 million and uncovered creative resolutions and resolutions for businesses. There are ‘green’ resolutions; bizarre and truly weird resolutions.

Why – there are survey results about resolutions. This is serious business folks. I mean Nascar, the WWE and the Federal government have all issued New Year’s resolutions for 2013!

After doing more investigating I discovered even more resolutions. Some of the more interesting are:

Visit 12 state parks this year – one each month

Turn off the TV for a month

Buy 52 cards and send one per week to someone you know

Taste as many unusual foods as possible in the coming year

Learn to text using just your thumbs

Be less of a control freak

Turn off the cell phone at restaurants

Give up plastic or paper bags

Wash and rinse clothes in cold water

Eat and shop local

I thought I would take a break from all the top 10 Best New Year’s Resolution lists and work from the bottom up so to speak.

Maybe I could start by just lopping off the really terrible resolutions; narrow my choices down until I whittled away all but the most incredible, most amazing resolutions I could find.

With that in mind, I looked up the 10 worst New Year’s resolutions:

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Another staggering 110 million results!

As I read through the selections, I realized that most articles are just cautionary tales about how hard it is to keep resolutions; mainly because we bite off more than we can chew.

The best advice I found is to start small. You can always ‘up the anty’ as time progresses.

For example, if starting an exercise routine is your New Year’s resolution, then start small by walking or working out at home (or at work). Joining a gym and planning to visit seven days a week at 5 am each morning may be a commitment that is hard to keep over time; especially if you haven’t had a serious exercise routine before. If saving money is a goal, then plan on saving a small amount of the money you make instead of banking your entire paycheck each week. Make sure the goals are realistic for you.

All in all resolutions can be good things if we don’t get too stressed out over them. They help us set goals and remind us to take better care of ourselves and each other.

Give yourself a reward for each success – no matter how big or small, and if you slip-up don’t give up – get right back on track and keep going.

Happy New Year!

The Roman Legion, The Teutons and Gobbler’s Knob

What in the world do these things have in common?

Not a lot, you  might reply, yet oddly enough all three relate to shadows, and our fascination with them.

Gobbler’s Knob is in Pennsylvania.

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Yep – right down at the bottom of Jefferson County.  Don’t worry if the name doesn’t ring a bell – it will. You see, Gobbler’s Knob is where one of the most famous shadow-chasers of all, the beloved groundhog Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby, emerges from his home and predicts how much longer winter will last.

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How does he predict this? With his shadow! That’s right.

Each February 2nd, Phil emerges from his den and checks his shadow. There will be six more weeks of Winter if he sees his shadow, but if Punxsutawney Phil  does not see his shadow then Spring will come early.

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All right, so what has this to do with the Roman Legion?

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Legends say that the Roman Legion used the weather to look for signs of more Winter or the coming of Spring. Now the Roman Empire was a vast place and some of its myths and legends were handed down to the people they conquered, among them the Teutons (Germanic Peoples of the Jutland).

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Although the Teutons were virtually wiped out at the battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BC, some survived and were eventually Christianized. Their culture celebrated the Christian ritual Candlemas, an early ritual of blessings by distributing and lighting candles – lights in the dark so to speak.  The Pagan Imbolc festival is very similar in nature.

There is an old German saying,

“For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.”

At some point, the Germans decided that an animal would be the best way to predict the change of the seasons. I guess they looked around and decided the Hedgehog was the best predictor; If he came out  of his den and saw his shadow, there would be a second Winter. And if he didn’t see his shadow? Well then spring was coming soon!

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So how do Gobbler’s Knob and Punxsutawney Phil tie into an old German tradition?

Time passed, the American continents were discovered and populated by many European cultures including Germans.

Pennsylvania  was settled by large numbers of German immigrants. I guess they wanted to continue their weather-predicting traditions and thought the Groundhog was a suitable replacement for their beloved hedgehogs.

The first modern Groundhog Day took place at Gobbler’s Knob in 1887. And if you look at Punxsutawney Phil ‘s stats,  he is correct about 39% of the time (as of Feb 2011).

And us humans? We gather at Gobbler’s Knob by the thousands to wait and see if Phil will see his shadow or not. It’s just another way we show our fascination with shadows.

Shadows, Haunts and Charles Dickens

Each Christmas I make it a point to watch A Christmas Carol to get my creepy holiday fix. I love the Dickens’ tale, especially when Scrooge’s partner Marley pays a visit and announces the three visitors Scrooge will encounter on Christmas Eve.

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Late at night when I hear the wind rattling the eaves of the house and floor boards creaking unexpectedly I get to thinking about Jacob Marley and his chains and how Charles Dickens thought of such a ghostly image.

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It seems as if Dickens was more than just intrigued by spirits; His collection of stories, novellas and novels show he was fascinated by ghosts, hauntings and the occult, even if he considered himself a skeptic. Within weeks of his death in 1870, spiritualists in America claimed to receive messages from him dictating the ending of his last unfinished work – The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

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So what has this to do with shadows and haunts? I am always making weird connections – kind of like drawing dotted lines from one thing to another – reading between the lines. It makes me think about paranormal phenomena and Shadow people in particular. What are they? Why are they here? And why do we find them so fascinating?

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I have read a lot about shadow people over the years. They usually appear in silhouette and seem to be very solid and typically black – not  reflecting light in any way. People often report glowing red eyes and human outlines. Oddly enough, Fedora hats are often associated with Shadow people.

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When I think about ghosts, I envision spirits floating through the air with ethereal white  mists trailing behind them.

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People who encounter shadow people often report movements that are quick and jerky – definitely not floating. Some witnesses also say they feel bad feelings or dark thoughts when they have a personal experience with a shadow person.

No one has a clear cut answer that proves exactly what shadow people are; time travelers? Negative energies? Inter-dimensional beings?  The spirits of people having out-of-body experiences? Perhaps just human imagination?

I guess the answer is still out there.

Meanwhile,I will just enjoy the holidays with Charles Dickens!

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The Electric Eye Radio Show | Step Right Up!

Check out My friend’s Beezle’s blog and radio show. The show airs Saturdays from 1-3 pm on InsightRadionetwork.com, but you can catch up on past shows by visiting the Electric Eye Radio show site and looking under ‘The Vault’

The Electric Eye Radio Show | Step Right Up!.

Oh The Joy of Shopping

I do most, if not all, of my shopping online. I find it so much more relaxing then driving to malls and shopping centers; no traffic, no lines, no roaming around aimlessly searching for items that aren’t there.

I am living the Life of Riley when I am shopping on-line.

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But, I decided to brave the highway today so I could get my pups some special Santa Christmas treats from the pet store.

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I hopped on the highway and came to an immediate stop. The surface streets may have been a better option for the next 5 miles; I was driving 0-5 miles per hour on a 65 mph highway.

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 What was I thinking?

Ah well. I stayed in the slow lane and turned up the radio. The music was good, and I was singing along in a happy holiday mood. The car or two that cut me off didn’t bother me in the least bit; those drivers must be in one HUGE hurry to cut into the slow lane.

I reached my turn-off. I had to drive on the berm to get into the correct lane. I was fortunate I was turning right instead of left at the end of the exit – the two left turning lanes had cars backing up on the highway. I slowly followed the line of cars ahead of me, braking all the way up that eighth mile ramp, and found out why it took three lights and 25 minutes to reach that turn; Cars in the right lane were trying to save time by cutting into the left hand turn lane.

Oh the joy of the holiday season.

I didn’t let that ruin my day. It’s Christmas for Christ’s sake. I made it to the store, and found a parking spot – I only had to circle like a vulture three times before I found one. Now I was ready to shop.

I was looking for some Kong toys and some special treats made in the USA. I didn’t want any treats made in China since they are making dogs sick, so I took my time maneuvering through the aisles until I found exactly what I wanted.

That’s when I found out the line to reach the 4 cashiers started at the rear of the store. God Almighty – this is a BIG pet store, not some airline check-in full of holiday travellers!

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It was okay though; there were lots of cute pets waiting and nice people to talk to – I reached the front of the wait line in about 20 minutes.

Right about then a woman came in through the front door and excused herself past me to go into the aisle we were standing in front of. I didn’t pay too much attention. I could see the four cashier lines and knew I was next to get in one of those lines.

Number 4 looked short, but it was farthest away; Numbers 2 and 3 had several patient shoppers still in line. Number 1 only had three people waiting… and it was only two steps away, so I decided to go there.

I unloaded my cart and saw the woman who had walked in before come out on the far end of the aisle. She looked right, then left and proceeded to step into the #4 checkout line, bypassing all of the customers standing so politely…and for so long in the wait line.  The gasps were audible behind me; kind of like when you’ve just witnessed a most amazing landing….except it wasn’t awe but anger I heard in those groans.

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I wasn’t fazed.

I paid for my items and left the store. During the drive home I realized my little shopping trip had just reminded me about why I started shopping on-line. I turned up the tunes and smiled.

Yep – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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Merry Happy!

Another Apocalypse Bites The Dust

This morning I was happy to wake-up and find the Earth was still here.

YAY EARTH

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I am interested in Pre-Columbian cultures – I always have been. Over the years I have read several books about the Mayan, Aztec, Mixtec, Olmec and Incan cultures, but this year, I admit, I spent time researching the Mayan calendar and the doomsday myths surrounding it.

I remember reading how the 2012 doomsday was based on the Long Count Calendar and two phrases in the Dresden Codex meaning “black sky” and “black earth”. The Dresden is a Pre-Columbian Maya text known for its accuracy of recording lunar and solar eclipses.

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And sure, there are thousands of people all over the world who used this text like a Mayan compass pointing towards our impending doom.

 

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But me? I take it all with a grain of salt…although I did watch a lot of Ancient Aliens on The History Channel to my son’s chagrin. I wound up doing my own number crunching.

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Which was quite a bit different from Terrence McKenna’s TimeWave Zero Theory – although I find it fascinating.

 

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And, I am so glad that Zecharia Sitchin was wrong about Nibiru slamming into the Earth when Enki and the Anunnaki come back to claim us.

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Not to mention all those Prepper and Conspiracy shows I’ve been watching about biological and chemical weapons.

 

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Heck – even I want to know what to do in disastrous situations.

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I sure don’t want to end up being outplayed, outwitted and out lasted by some apocalypse!

 

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I just want to keep on keeping on. Living in Kentucky and celebrating the Holidays.

And the Mayan 2012 prophecy?

Well all I can say is another one bites the dust.

 

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Fireworks, Alcohol and Homeland Security

I live in Kentucky, and I am proud of it.

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I do say y’all and Lou-a-vul. I have eaten squirrel and rabbit and deer; Tasty.

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I wave to people in my neighborhood even if I don’t know them, and I say ‘hey’ when I am walking down the street greeting others along the way.

Believe me – I have heard all kinds of jokes about Kentucky…and for a long time now; I have never been on the Jerry Springer Show – although I’ve heard he scours Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi for ‘guests’.

 

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This past September, Homeland Security was beefed up because of the 911 anniversary, and me and my neighbors found out just how serious the authorities in our small little city felt about it.

 

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It was late. It was Saturday night…not exactly the anniversary date, but close enough I guess.

I put my pups to bed; put hubby to bed, and I am in the kitchen watching TV and drinking a beer while I ice my knee down and enjoy the breeze from the open window.

I hear an explosion; then a sizzle like someone is letting off fireworks… It’s 1:30 AM people!!!

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My dog Frankie freaks out and runs under my legs, but I don’t think much about it – I live in Kentucky where the farmers often hold target shooting parties with bonfires and fireworks.

About ten minutes later I see the flickering red, white and yellow lights of a heavy rescue vehicle coming down the street… no sirens… that’s odd.

I step onto the back deck and watch them turn around in the cul-de-sac circle and head up the street. I go back inside. An Independence Police car comes down the street right after – blue lights flashing and parks in the turning circle.

Next thing I know there are three heavy rescue trucks and a ladder company engine complete with firemen filling my entire street.

What the heck?

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I go outside my front door and notice they are all out of their vehicles and walking up the hill to my house.

Did I hear anything?

Did I see anything?

What direction did the sound come from?

All the neighbors are coming out of their houses and being asked the same questions.

Police and firemen search around the houses for about 20 minutes asking everyone questions. Then they leave.

Afterwards, a neighbor admits he was having a few drinks while setting fireworks off in his backyard.

I guess he didn’t ‘get the memo’ about the heightened security.

The street I live on probably isn’t classified as a highly desirable target by terrorists, but it is nice to know how fast my local police and fire departments respond to dangerous situations.

Willie

Willie

Willie

A little over a year ago we got a call about a three week old puppy thrown behind a dumpster near a restaurant. My husband had just got home from the hospital, and I wasn’t looking for a puppy, but I took one look at him and knew we would be his forever home. I brought him home and hubby fell in love immediately.

Willie is the first terrier mix we’ve had in our household. I would not recommend terriers to a first-time dog owner. Terriers are willful and stubborn and full of energy. Get past the first 4 months… just when you think you can’t take anymore shenanigans, and terriers are smart and loving and protective; they are happy fun and energetic dogs.

Terriers need a job to do. We keep a lot of toys around the house with plenty of opportunities for play time in the yard and long walks outside.

One thing I’ve learned is that terriers are masters at digging holes. They are tenacious mole hunters. We have plenty of holes in our backyard to prove it.

And I wouldn’t change one thing about Willie. He is a joyful ball of love and energy in our house.

Frankie

Frankie

Frankie

My husband found Frankie wandering around a parking lot where he worked. He noticed Frankie had cuts on both shoulders and felt sorry for the poor little thing. He started feeding the dog bits of food, and by mid-morning most of my husband’s lunch had gone to the dog.
By late afternoon, Dale decided to bring Frankie home.

Dale stopped at the vet to have the cuts checked out. Both the vet and my husband were shocked when they discovered huge infected abscesses on Frankie’s shoulders; the vet cut them open to drain and noticed more infected spots that traveled along his spine and ended at the base of his tail. The vet looked at Dale and told him it looked liked the dog had been severely burned.

Dale called me from the vet and said we had a new dog.

“Frankenstein is what we are naming him,” Hubby declared.

“Why Frankenstein?”

“You’ll see why when you get home from work.”

I was shocked when I opened the door. Frankie was shaved from withers to tail. He had stitches and bandages and ointment all over him. He looked up at me with his sad brown eyes and my heart just ached for him.

It took weeks for Frankie’s wounds to heal. We bathed him in special solutions two times per day and applied ointment to the burns in-between.

We’ve had Frankie about 8 years now. He is such a loving dog. Frankie has given us love and joy and tenderness. He has kept the secrets my kids told him when they were little, dried their tears and brought them love and comfort as only a dog can.

We have been blessed to have a wonderful dog like Frankie in our lives.

Frankie shows me that dogs can be forgiving; I think he knows that we humans do not always bring pain and fear – we also bring love and comfort and healing.

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