Spring is near... 2014

Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
 ~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.”
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young


Indian Summer...

"The gilding of the Indian summer mellowed the pastures far and wide.
The russet woods stood ripe to be stripped, but were yet full of leaf.
The purple of heath-bloom, faded but not withered, tinged the hills...
Fieldhead gardens bore the seal of gentle decay;...
its time of flowers and even of fruit was over."

-Charlotte Brontë

Harvest Moon, September 2013

Shine on, Harvest Moon: Strange facts about tonight's full moon

Elizabeth Howell, Space.com

The Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, the equinox falls on Sunday, and the moon reaches its full phase in North America overnight from Wednesday to Thursday.

This full moon is called the Harvest Moon because many fruits and vegetables tend to ripen in the late summer and early fall in the Northern Hemisphere. In the days before electricity, farmers relied heavily on this moon's light, working late into the evening to harvest their crops.

As it rises for several nights in a row at or near sunset, the moon will appear larger to observers near the horizon than it does high in the sky — a much-discussed phenomenon that is sometimes called "the moon illusion." Our minds and eyes, used to seeing distant clouds on the horizon and closer ones a few miles overhead, tend to perceive objects on the horizon are much farther away than objects higher in the sky that have the same angular size. Since the moon is actually not farther away on the horizon, we may think that it appears larger — even though its angular size is the same.

This trick of the mind is true for the moon all year round, but it's particularly pronounced with the Harvest Moon, because this full moon's path around Earth creates a particularly narrow angle with the horizon. As a result, the moon rises only 30 minutes later every day around the fall equinox, far below the average of 50 minutes.

Sometimes the moon turns orange, just like a fall pumpkin, because of clouds and dust in the atmosphere close to the horizon. So the Harvest Moon may hang low and large on the horizon, like a colorful lantern.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org


Flowers for Cindy...

In loving memory of
Celinda Louise Allyn Lockwood

Gone too soon my niece
We miss your strength and beauty
Angel, rest in peace.

©2010 Photographs property of Jan Boults Photography


Magpie Tales Photo Prompt No.10 "Celinda's Time"

"Celinda's Time"

Today I saw time
End the battle and allow
The eyes to show truth

Time for her to go
Refusing our denial
She is strong waiting

In time I will stand
At her grave, time will be still
Grieving the life lost.

Haiku Poem, ©2010 Janice Stiles-Boults
For my first niece in Stage 4 Cancer, nearing the end.

This week's photo prompt reminded me of
The Persistence of Time
by Salvador Dali

The Persistence of time is also sometimes known as The Persistence of Memory, Melting Clocks, Soft Watches and Droopy Watches. Officially however, it is known as La persistencia de la memoria.

Created in 1931 by Salvador Dali and owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York since 1934, this seminal work of surrealistic art is certainly Dali’s and the Surrealist movements most recognisable icon. The painting represents Dali’s thoughts on softness and hardness, which was a theme of much of his work during that part of his life.

The imagery of The Persistence of Time is often read as an illustration of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, where gravity can be seen to distort time.
Watch photograph courtesy of Willow @ http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/
Willow, of "Life at Willow Manor", began Magpie Tales in February. Every week writers sign up and then post a poem or fictional story to go with a photograph prompt that Willow provides. Check out http://magpietales.blogspot.com/ to join in the fun!
Dali photo and information courtesy of Google Search and Images


Magpie Tales Photo Prompt No.9-"Cherries in the Snow"

Cherries in the Snow

I took one look at her and thought, oh no, that isn’t right, Jeesuus Chriiist, I’ll have to do it myself! The one time I didn’t do the hair and makeup, and on such an important occasion. I’d done the same old hair routine hundreds of times; wash, color rinse, roller set, dry – that stuffy old lady blue-haired tight curl, like the queen of England. And the lipstick was wrong too; she had used the same color since Revlon came out with it in 1942, Cherries in the Snow, or some such name.

I set to work, chatting to her the whole time. The blue outfit won’t work either, it makes you look too washed out; how about the peach pantsuit you wore to the fiftieth anniversary? Yes, that is much better, as I laid the jacket against her chest. Those finely tweezed arched eyebrows that were almost gone, needed the little pencil line she would draw in everyday. I then applied the dark lipstick over lips that refused to relax, and whispered it’s the best I can do Ma under the circumstances.

The hair was the problem - I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it dry. I didn’t have the big hooded dryer with me; the one she liked to sit under, having a cocktail, on our weekly ‘spa day’ visit. There was a blow dryer in the ladies room that did the job just fine. I told her all kinds of stories that day, as we prepared for the afternoon appointment. I was no cosmetician, but all in all, she looked much better when I was finished.

I held her hand, I did not cry. This was an ending and a beginning, of changes to come, new paths to journey forward upon. I said goodbye as the sound of Pachelbel’s Canon reached my ears, and drifted through the hushed quiet of the funeral home. Beautiful, gentle music by the harpist and organist we had hired to play her favorite songs would comfort us during the long hours of her wake.

©2010 Janice Stiles-Boults
Photograph courtesy of Willow
@ http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/
Willow, of "Life at Willow Manor", began Magpie Tales in February. Every week writers sign up and then post a poem or fictional story to go with a photograph prompt that Willow provides. Check out http://magpietales.blogspot.com/ to join in the fun!


Magpie Tales Photo Prompt No.7-"A Year of Mourning"

A Year of Mourning

My heartache is renewed by a fresh pierce of pain
How will we ever face Christmas without you?
The season holds precious memories
This time is the hardest of all.
We will miss you more
Than one could imagine
As we approach the final stage
Of our first year of mourning.
January saw our tree slowly dying
As it lay neglected on the porch
Something you were spared
Your death not comprehensible.
Spring brought me daffodils from bulbs
You gave me that very last fall,
When they appeared, I cried out loud
And lay down in all that golden glory.
Mother's day shattered my emotions
While pounding the ground for your garden
A gift that would help to heal my soul.
Summer was long and steamy
I spent a week wandering
Old halls, calling for your ghost.
Autumn brought splendid colors
Sprinkled throughout my yard
I found I could not cope, it was just too hard.
Winter came with a sudden burst
Brilliant snow white, shining clear
That made me hurt for that last day
Of your last year on Earth.
New Year's eve descended, suddenly we were there
The anniversary of your death
We did not hurt any less
At the end of this year of mourning.

There was no doubt in my mind when I saw the lovely daffodil photo that I would have to use this poem. Daffodil bulbs were one of the last gifts I received from my mother in the Fall of 1994, and of course when they came up in the spring, after her death, it was the most amazing gift from heaven. I cannot look at daffodils without this memory. So, thus the reason for not writing a new poem for this Magpie. Thanks!
©Janice Stiles-Boults, poem, "A Year of Mourning", page twenty-four from the book "A Year of Mourning", previously published©1996, 1999, 2005.


Magpie Tales Photo Prompt No.6-"Nails To Feathers"

Nails to Feathers

It was becoming rather tedious, but it was a good paying job, and I still had another year of grad school, so beggars can’t be choosers, right? My job was to lie on a bed of nails, which I did in a staged performance five days a week and weekends at the Museum of Science in Boston. I also did my “act” several times a month in the labs at M.I.T. for the students majoring in Physics. There were mistakes and injuries in the beginning; it took many hours of training and a calm patience. I didn’t have many friends, they couldn’t quite grasp what it was I did, and for the most part, they thought I was weird. Yes, it is an unusual practice, but one that has been a cultural tradition for meditation and relaxation in India for thousands of years.

One might think of the freak show at carnivals or the circus; that dark ominous tent, full of the strange and bizarre, but it wasn’t anything magical or mystical at all. Most of those acts were exaggerated to be shocking, but were totally phony. Changes in entertainment led to the decline of these human sideshows, and some states banned or outlawed them all together. The exhibition of human oddities, “freaks of nature”, can be traced back for centuries. Strong man, tallest, oldest, shortest; then there was the elephant man, spider boy, camel girl, the bearded lady of Geneva – and, the man who sleeps on a bed of nails! This act was to express bravery and lack of pain, when in fact, it was a simple physics demonstration on the principles of pressure.

Freak shows were popular in the United States between 1840 and the 1970s, and in many states one can still find them. In the 1630s, Lazarus Colloredo, and his parasitic twin brother, John Baptista, who was attached at Lazarus' sternum, toured Europe. The early 19th century brought Chang and Eng, "the original Siamese twins", to an exhibition in America. P.T. Barnum arrived in London with Tom Thumb, the famous midget. Coney Island was the sight of the World Circus Sideshow,” operating from 1922 to 1941 by “Professor” Samuel Wagner, known as “The Godfather” of the Coney Island Freak Show. These bizarre anomalies were eventually scientifically explained as genetic mutations or diseases, and so-called freaks were no longer feared, but given sympathy instead. Lying on a bed of nails, however, wasn’t all that freaky, it just took practice, and it was actually beneficial to the body.

In Russia, in the 1980’s, physicians found that the effects of the bed of nails showed great results for the immune system, metabolic rates and decrease in stress levels. Psychological changes also occurred; with aggression levels decreasing, alleviation of depression, and a sense of well-being developing.

The trick is getting on and off the bed; my technique was to roll onto the bed in one quick motion, once the body weight is evenly dispersed, there is no risk of injury. If you try to sit, or put a hand down, that area will receive the brunt of pressure and cause the nail to puncture your skin. In early training, three pieces of plywood are set on top of the nails; once I am stretched out, an assistant removes each board from under me, and I remain balanced on the nails. Other methods have beds with railings, so you can slowly lower yourself onto the nails. I have a few scars and puncture holes here and there, but I have it down to, well, a science, and rather enjoy the stimulation, my body very accustomed to it now. Overall, I rarely have emotional issues, being quite calm and balanced, and I don’t suffer from any health problems, so I would recommend the bed of nails as extremely therapeutic.

This job has helped me earn a living while in college, a “hit the nail on the head” kind of idea, because I will soon earn my doctorate in Physics after eight long years of studying. It has been hard as nails, I’ve bitten my nails, I could have spit nails at times, and of course, it's been a real bed of nails. When I go home each night to my single dorm on the top floor of an old brownstone, the one item dominating the room is a giant featherbed!

©2010, Janice Stiles-Boults
Information courtesy of Google Searches & Wikipedia
Photograph courtesy of Willow
@ http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/
Willow, of "Life at Willow Manor", began Magpie Tales in February. Every week writers sign up and then post a poem or fictional story to go with a photograph prompt that Willow provides. Check out http://magpietales.blogspot.com/ to join in the fun!