Reviving Ophelia: An Interview with a Modern Day Pinner

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From the pinterest boards of Ophelia’s Renaissance

“And for your part Ophelia, I do wish

That your good beauties be the happy cause

Of Hamlet’s wildness; so shall I hope your virtues

Will bring him to his wonted way again…”

– Queen Gertrude from Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Poetic, romantic, cinematic, storied these are just a few words that Ms. Jeannie would use to describe one of her most favorite pinners on Pinterest – Ophelia’s Renaissance. Beautifully melancholy, just like her namesake, the picture boards of Ophelia’s Renaissance tell a million timeless stories.  From board titles like …

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Picked and pleasantly arranged…

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and

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to the actual images themselves, Ophelia’s Renaissance is an incredible example of a well-curated theme. Part literary, part history, part high fashion and part dark art, this week we’re stepping behind the screen to learn about a prolific pinner and what inspires the brain behind the boards.

From the board Let's Find A Place Where We Don't Care
From the Ophelia’s REnaissance board Let’s Find A Place Where We Don’t Care

Ms. Jeannie Ology: How long have you been on Pinterest?

Ophelia’s Renaissance: Approximately four years, I believe.

{Ophelia’s Renaissance at present includes over 75 boards and over 100,000 individual images. Clearly this is not something built up in a weekend! That is the wonderful thing about Pinterest and pinners like OR – they represent an exercise in intuition performed in small steps over vast time. It’s putting together a gallery of personal tastes and possibilities. It’s a cultivation of ideas and aesthetics, of conversation and curiosities. It’s a veritable art gallery of thoughts and emotions view-able by anyone anywhere around the world.}

From the board All The World's A Stage
From the board All The World’s A Stage

MJO: What are three words that describe your style?

OR: Elegant, classy, and traditional.

From the boards of Ophelia's Renaissance
From the boards of Ophelia’s Renaissance
From the board For the Home
From the board For the Home

MJO: What do you look for in a pin-worthy picture?

OR: It needs to be visually appealing, or provide some insight.

From the board: Libraries
From the board: Libraries

{Naturally, Ms. Jeannie is drawn to the library photographs!}

From the Board Libraries
From the Board Libraries

MJO:  Tell us a little about yourself (anything you like) work, hobbies, etc.

OR: I am a high school English teacher who enjoys reading and writing. I also love to decorate.

{Pinterest is so inspiring that way! You can gather ideas, dream the day away or simply just pause for a minute and admire  a moment in time captured by a camera. Whether spur of the moment or staged, photography requires thought.}

From the board
From the board

MJO: Of your own boards, which is your most favorite at the moment?

OR: “Resuscitating Ophelia and Virginia” or “Nascent Phase”

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Resuscitating on the left, Nascent on the right

(Okay, Ms. Jeannie confesses she had to look up the word nascent which means just coming into existence or beginning to display signs of future potential. A fantastic word! Nascent is O.R. children’s themed board. So clever. This is exactly why Ms. Jeannie is such a fan!}

MJO:  Regarding other people’s Pinterest accounts – which board or person do you most admire?

OR: I honestly don’t have a favorite. I look to different boards for different interests. If I am scrolling through Pins and I am not finding anything, then I revert to those I consider my favorites.

From the board Evoke
From the board Evoke

MJO:  How does Pinterest influence your daily life?

OR: Before I was on Pinterest, I would look forward to receiving my home decorating subscriptions such as Veranda, Traditional Home, Southern Accents, Martha Stewart, Country Home and Country Living. I would escape into these beautiful rooms and cut out pictures so as to try and emulate the designs that caught my eye. I would create binders, so I could remember what it was I wanted to create for my living space. When I was really young, I would cut out beautiful pictures from magazines and post them on my closet doors. Pinterest offers the same escape and allows me to gravitate towards things that I find visually appealing. It also affords me an opportunity to post everything else I enjoy such as books and music. It is just my preferred pretty hang-out when I need to rid myself of stress.

From the board: Evoke
From the board: Evoke

{So well said. In our modern day and age, Pinterest is everyone’s closet door. It’s an escape like Alice in Wonderland’s looking glass or Dorothy’s tornado dream of Oz. It transports you to places you naturally want to go. And just coming off an introspective study of The Artists Way, Ms. Jeannie understands that Pinterest can also serve as both a catalyst and a definitive of who you are and where you wish to go.}

MJO: What’s the story behind the name Ophelia’s Renaissance?

OR: I always wanted to own a store and imagined this as the name. Ophelia, is one of my favorite characters in Shakepeare’s Hamlet. There is something about those who are driven to commit suicide, either in life or fiction, that disturbs, and simultaneously intrigues me. So here, on Pinterest, I have created the rebirth or revival of one of my favorite characters.

From the board Resuscitating Ophelia and Virginia
From the board Resuscitating Ophelia and Virginia

MJO: If you could fall into any Pinterest picture and spend some time there which one would you choose and why?

OR: Again, there are so many pictures that provide a lovely escape, I would find it difficult to pick one.

{Understandably so! The boards of Ophelia’s Renaissance are not for the fly-by-nighters who have just one second of free-time. They are boards meant to be explored and discovered, appreciated and enjoyed.}

Like Hamlet’s tragic heroine, Ophelia beautiful both inside and out, knew the right time – her own time – to make the story her own. Centuries later her quiet impact still inspires.  A fantastic thumbs up to Shakespeare for creating such an indelible character and for modern day English teachers for keeping her spirit alive! Never underestimate the power of pinterest!

From the board The Effect of Fairy Tales
From the board The Effect of Fairy Tales

If you are not familiar with pinterest, Ms. Jeannie highly encourages you to take some time and poke around the site here. Take a little tour around Ophelia’s world here. Find Ms. Jeannie’s pinterest boards here.

From the boards of Ophelia's Renaissance
From the boards of Ophelia’s Renaissance

Do you have a favorite pinner on Pinterest dear readers? If so, please share links and thoughts below!

From Shakespeare To Central Park – The Flight of the Starlings

A family of european singers has moved in with Ms. Jeannie!

Ms. Jeannie’s new roommates – the European starlings.

Tucked into the side porch – they chose to reside in a rotted out hole on the underside of the roof eave. Ms. Jeannie didn’t even know there was a vacancy there until she heard these vocalists warming up one morning.  It started with two of them, but soon after came three babies chirp, chirp, chirping.

All black with bright yellow beaks and iridescent feathers, Ms. Jeannie identified these singers as European starlings with her handy bird book.

European Starling

They are one of the most common birds found in the US, with over 200 million of them occupying all 50 states.

Interestingly enough, starlings were first introduced to America by Eugene Scheifflin in 1890. Eugene, a lover of all things Shakespeare, wanted to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to America.  The starling is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1:

“I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak
Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him
To keep his anger still in motion. “

Eugene released all the birds in Central Park in 1890, but only the starlings survived.  Wondrously 30 pairs of starlings turned into 200 million just a hundred years later. Simply amazing!

If you want to read more about Eugene, a great book about his life and membership with the American Acclimatization Society is detailed in Tinkering With Eden: A Natural History of Exotic Species in America by Kim Todd.

Tinkering with Eden by Kim Todd

A fascinating documentary was also done by Penny Lane about Eugene and his flight of fancy, called The Commoners.  Here’s a clip from youtube…

Some people think that starlings are irritating because they are so vocal and can mimic many different types of birds. But Ms. Jeannie loves her new roommates. They can be destructive in the garden- pulling up newly planted seeds, but luckily Ms. Jeannie’s garden has remained untampered with so far.

The average lifespan of a european starling is 5-7 years but the oldest one on record in the US was 15 years old and in the UK, 22 years old. In general, they can lay up to 10 eggs a year.  The babies get kicked out of the nest when the mom deems it appropriate so that they can learn to fly, forage and protect themselves on the ground for up to 5 days before they fly off.

Both parents teach the babies how to survive during this time. Not all babies make it though. Since they can’t fly yet when they are kicked out of the nest they become vulnerable to the initial fall, predators like snakes, house cats, etc or they succumb to dehydration or malnurishment. It is definitely tough to be a baby bird. Knowing this information now, it seems EXTRAordinary that birds ever even make it to adulthood.

Once starlings reach maturity, they are acrobatic flyers, reaching speeds up to 48 miles an hour. They can be aggressively territorial and dive bomb other birds if they feel threatened.

Male starlings choose the nesting sites and then go in search of a mate. The male starlings are also the primary nest builders, but the females like to come in at the end of construction and look the nest over before settling in. The females will even remove certain types of nesting materials if they don’t suit!

The poet, Mary Oliver, wrote this beautiful poem called Starlings in Winter…

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Ms. Jeannie found some gorgeous starling art on Etsy. Take a look…

Starling Bird Painting by Frances Marin
Wire Bird Sculpture by wireanimals
Flying Starling Print by KSGtextileart
Starling Oil Painting from tintabernacle
Starling Greeting Card by thenothcountrygirl

Starlings are cavity nesters. If you want to attract some starlings in your yard, Twig & Timber offers several styles that starlings would love…

Modern Birdhouse by twigandtimber
Craftsmen Birdhouse by twigandtimber
The Camera Shutter Birdhouse by twigandtimber

Or if you want to start identifying the birds in your yard, these items might be helpful…

Vintage Audubon Bird Caller from VintageHoneyBunny
Vintage Book of Songbirds from Fishraven
Vintage Summit Binoculars from MysticLily
Birding Journal by QuailLanePress

If you have any starling pictures from your yard, send them in. Ms. Jeannie would love to see! Until then…happy birding!