I wonder how many times in my life I’ve said in response to a query from someone about what I’m doing, “Oh, I’m just killing a bit of time.” It’s a common enough expression, after all…but of course, when we kill time we are really killing a bit of our life because we only have so much time “to kill” and then we run out!
Today’s photo if of a peacock at the Hindu temple near Lilburn, GA. In Hindu belief (so I’ve learned) the peacock is considered to be a sacred bird, known as the mayura. In images of the mayura as a mythical bird, it is depicted as killing a snake, which according to a number of Hindu scriptures, is a symbol of the cycle of time (hence, “killing time” – get it!?!?!)
It is also a belief among Hindus that the feathers of the mayura are sacred and as such are used to dust the images and implements of Hindus.
I’ve always admired the beauty of the peacock, though their cries can be quite terrifying if you’ve never heard them before as they sound like a woman or child screaming. I remember the first time I heard them was when we lived near a park in Tampa, Florida. I was just a kid and my bedroom was at one end of the house away from my folks and sister. When the sound of the peacocks from that park came flying through the window, I was sure someone was being murdered. The next day, a neighbor explained what it was…and I eventually got used to it.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1885, a 19-year-old man named John Lee was taken to the gallows in Exeter, England, for the murder of Ellen Keyse, a rich older woman for whom he had worked. Although he insisted he was innocent, Lee had been convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. However, after the noose was put around his neck and the lever that would release the floor beneath his feet was pulled, something malfunctioned and Lee was not dropped. Strangely, the equipment had been tested and found to be in working order. In facts, weights used in a test run plunged to the ground as expected. The hanging was attempted two more times, but when Lee stood on the trap door, and the lever was pulled, nothing happened. He was then sent back to prison. On November 15, 1884, Keyse, who had been a maid to Queen Victoria, was found dead in a pantry next to Lee’s room. Her head was severely battered and her throat cut. There was no direct evidence of Lee’s guilt; the case was made solely on circumstantial evidence. The alleged motive was Lee’s resentment at Keyse’s mean treatment.
The authorities, mystified at the gallows’ inexplicable malfunction, decided to ascribe it to an act of God. Lee was removed from death row, his sentence commuted, and he spent the next 22 years in prison. After he was released, he emigrated to America. The cause of Lee’s remarkable reprieve was never discovered.
Condemned prisoners no longer have a chance at such reprieves. Even when there are mishaps in carrying out an execution (in one case, an executioner failed to properly find a vein for a lethal injection), authorities follow through until the prisoner has been put to death.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A dog’s shoulder blades are unattached to the rest of the skeleton to allow greater flexibility for running.