365 Days of Earrings

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Gift from the Sea

I spent some time this evening looking for Anne Morrow Lindbergh's small book Gift from the Sea. I read it the summer I worked as a babysitter in Maine-- the summer that I discovered what a treasure sea glass could be.

I checked the bookshelves, then tried my Kindle. I cannot fathom why this book is not available on Kindle. For shame! I looked online, thinking perhaps I was misspelling the author or title. But no--there it was. Then I went to check the bookshelves again. And I found it, my 88 cent copy--not the one I read in 1973, which lived at that house in Maine, but one I bought later and read again.

I thought that Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote about sea glass, but my quick look hasn't found that quote. This one will just have to do:

(At the seashore, the mind)begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the unconscious mind; what perfectly round stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor... But it must not be sought for or--heaven forbid!--dug for....The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient....One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea.

I made these earrings at that class I took with my daughter at the Sawmill Center in Cook Forest, PA. The blue sea glass dangles from the shimmery metal. It was once a gift from the sea.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The inspiration for today's earrings was my visit to the unbelievable Smithsonian exhibit, "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef: Art, Science, Community." My daughter Phoebe and I saw it on January 3rd. So many levels of wonder:

  • Coral reefs exhibit hyperbolic geometry, with ruffled shapes that maximize the feeding surface area of undersea filter-feeders
  • Some crocheting mathematicians (Dr. Daina Taimina at Cornell and Margaret and Christine Wertheim at the Institute For Figuring in Los Angeles) discovered that this medium  is the best way to model the hyperbolic patterns found in nature.
  • Hundreds of crocheters around the globe participated in making reefs like the one in this photograph.
I bought a pair of earrings at the exhibit; those I'll wear later in the year, on a day when I'll see Monica Neagoy, the math consultant who is mentoring us as we implement a new math curriculum.

I decided during that visit that I finally had a good reason to learn how to crochet. I've played around with yarn, a crochet needle, and book called Crocheting School: A Complete Course. It is translated from Italian, which may explain some of the quizzical looks I've given it over the past few weeks.

This morning, I decided to try my hand at small-scale crochet. Again, I took inspiration from the hyperolic coral reef exhibit: "Living organisms are always irregular. In order to achieve natural looking corals, you need to vary the rate of increase within the model. We encourage crafters to experiment for themselves."

My irregular pair: Perfect for another day at home!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ark, aposting not adangling

When I got married, my initials became ARK. I'd always loved the story of Noah's Ark--
  • the careful measurements, in cubits;
  • building the boat in spite of the nay-sayers;
  • the animals two-by-two;
  • staying awake to care for his family and the animals;
  • the dove and the olive branch;
  • coming to rest high on Mt. Ararat;
  • the rainbow covenant
  • the continuing search for the ark

I changed my name, and gained a collectible!

I love arks--carved wooden arks with little animals, quilted arks, pop-up book versions of Noah's Ark, and, of course, earrings.

This pair was a gift from my mother-in-law some 20 years ago. They have posts, so I rarely wear them anymore.

But I still love my arks!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Scarab Miracles

The scarab beetle, sacred in ancient Egypt, was a dung beetle that rolled balls of dung into their burrows and laid eggs in them. As if by magic,having consumed the dung as larvae, the young scarabs emerged from the burrow.

In Egyptian mythology, the sun was rolled across the heavens by Khepara, the scarab beetle god.

Years ago, I bought scarab beads from a shop in Amsterdam that was full of exotic imports from Africa. After wandering about for a long time, I bought my four scarab beads.

Today, as Egyptians seeking democratic freedom poured into the streets, I made my scarabs into earrings. 

Surely these protests can find inspiration in the myth of Khepara!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Welcome to my Wonderland!
Happy Birthday, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson!
(Alter-ego of Lewis Carroll)
Only a month until the birthday of Alice in Wonderland's illustrator,
John Tenniel!

And, of course, I'm celebrating that the power is back on, the sun is out, and John is heading home, perhaps to plow if the tractor battery does its share of the work and the snow is not too wet and heavy.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  (She) he chortled in his  (her) joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.


Click for slideshow!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowday Companions

We think that our two cats are siblings. They were together at the animal shelter where we adopted them 12 years ago. Maia attracted us first. We wanted a mouser for our home in the woods, and female housecats do the hunting as do their cousins the lionesses. And her tortoiseshell coat was as lovely then as it is today. Maia is shy and retiring, rarely seen by visitors.

We didn't intend to adopt two cats. But Hermes put on such an acrobatic show that we were all charmed, and Phoebe, then six, began to plead for a cat of her own. He has been her devoted friend ever since. We named him after the Greek god of mischief, and he has lived up to his moniker. Today, as I tried to pose these cat earrings for a photo, Hermes prowled around until I moved them to a lampshade. He loves to sit on the back of an easy chair, swishing his tail at whatever human dares to share it with him.

On a day like today when we are home together, Maia snuggles on my bed while Hermes picks up pencils on the table, leaps against the window in pursuit of a bird on the other side at the suet feeder, and pushes his water bowl around the floor until I refill it with fresh water.

Two cats, siblings we believe.
One shy, one bold.
One patient, one demanding.
One tortoiseshell, one tabby.
Gentle Maia, moonlit huntress.
Playful Hermes, brother of the sun.
Snowday companions.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today in History

I added something called Today in History to my iGoogle homepage. Turns out today was quite a day. I've been trying to cut and paste the information onto this page, but I think I must be breaking some sort of blog rules, because it deletes every time. So I'll try another tack. I'm going to type the dates listed in a different order than they appear on the homepage:

Some of them, I studied in school.

1890: United Mine workers formed.
1919: League of Nations founded.

And I think I might be related to one of the leaders of this one: 1787: Shay's Rebellion. Henry Gale (my early Gale ancestors settled in New Jersey and then in Vermont... just like Henry)

And I read lots of Virginia Woolf, both in school and out. Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own. Today would have been her birthday. 1882. She'd be 129 today!

But here's where I began to feel a bit out of touch. Today in 1958, the ALGOL committee met for the first time. I've never heard of ALGOL. Turns out it's a computer language that is the basis for many other languages. First time I ever heard of it!

And then there's St. Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers and sick animals in Wales. I've always been proud of my Welsh heritage, but I've never heard of Dwynwen or her lover Maelon. One of them drank a potion and one of them turned to ice. No one is sure which. But Dwynwen died a hermit. Who knew?

But this was the biggest shock to me:
LOTR Gandalf falls in Moria. On January 25?!? And when did Lord of the Rings become history?

So, I decided that if Tolkien could write history, so can I: I wore these lovely earrings today. They were a gift from my daughter, who bought them in Lafayette, LA. I think they contain Elvish writing. Written before Gandalf fell in Moria, and foretelling that event.

History has once again been made on January 25th!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shining Bright

Today my baby turned 19. She's off at college. For the first time in 19 years, we won't be sharing chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Last night, in anticipation of her birthday, I checked my earring collection. Nothing jumped out at me. So I went to my craft box and began pulling out my boxes of beads and jewelry findings (jargon for wires and fasteners and what-not used to make jewelry). There I found some cut glass pyramids/prisms, once part of a crystal chandelier. 
Thinking back on summer days when sun streamed through a prism dangling from  our kitchen window, I murmured to myself, "The power of the rainbow!" My youngest child is named Phoebe, Greek for bright and shining. I made these earrings last night, and wore them today for her.

On my way to school this morning, I pressed the CD button to avoid listening to a news story on NPR. Carole King began to sing...

Although you see the world different than me
Sometimes I can touch upon the wonders that you see
All the new colors and pictures you've designed
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

You don't need direction, you know which way to go
And I don't want to hold you back, I just want to watch you grow
You're the one who taught me you don't have to look behind
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

Nobody's gonna kill your dreams
Or tell you how to live your life
There'll always be people to make it hard for a while
But you'll change their heads when they see you smile

The times you were born in may not have been the best
But you can make the times to come better than the rest
I know you will be honest if you can't always be kind
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine,
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes, sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine

Love you, love you,
child of mine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Call of the Dolphin

       A little more than week ago, a teenager I’ve known since he was very young lost control when snowboarding and crashed into a fence. He’s been in a medically induced coma ever since. I read his family’s blog each morning and admire their strength. While Forrest was never in my class, our lives have intersected often. I taught his older brother Austin, who loved exploring the natural world. Their mother funded a summer ecology program I attended in Bermuda, including an afternoon spent at her dolphin project. And Forrest played Jem to my son Willem’s Atticus in a youth theater production of To Kill a Mockingbird.
    This morning on their blog, I listened to members of Dolphin Quest singing to Forrest. Dolphins sang on the recording, too. I have no doubt that Forrest has spent many hours in the company of dolphins at his mother’s facilities.
    Today, before I went to school to get ready for the coming week, I put on this pair of earrings. I think I bought them for myself in celebration of my favorite animal, but honestly I don’t remember. I wore them today for Forrest, hoping that hearing those dolphin calls might summon him back to his family.
    When I looked at this photo, at first I thought it was too dark. But I kept it, the dolphins circling, as if bathed in moonlight.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I spent today writing narrative reports about each of my 3rd grade students. As I sat nestled beside the woodstove to stay warm, I pored over portfolios of student writing and math work, looking for examples to flesh out my comments so that my knowledge of these children might come alive through my words.

I did some laundry; created some teaching materials for next week's lessons; cooked a yummy salmon, brown rice, and green beans with almonds dinner; and then made a ballot box for a new project, our Academy Awards of Books. On Monday, the children will nominate categories of books. Best Book? Best Character? Best Beginning? Best Plot? Best Layout? Only their top three categories will earn awards.

At 8 PM I realized that I had worn no earrings today. I headed up to my bedroom in search of a pair that I've never worn, and will probably never wear again. I didn't find this green mesh bag immediately, but when I did I knew that it was perfect: A 3rd grade boy gave me this bag a few years ago. He bought it at a church fair to support a craftswoman half a world away. His mother told me that he spent his own money, knowing that I loved earrings, and that I didn't own a pair like this.

"Look at those little orange beads, they're like circles of flame!" I exclaimed when I first opened the bag.  And then with a huge grin Rooney handed me a pair of earrings that he had made for me: Dr. Seuss' Thing One and Thing Two. I wear that pair every year. I'm saving them for another day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lovely Blues

The first person who made earrings for me was a young woman from Calcutta who lived with us while she attended art school at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her father owned a jewelry business but as a daughter she could not train as a jeweler or work with him. While in school, she worked in a bead shop and made me several pairs of earrings. This pair, she said, would bring out the blue in my eyes.

This morning I was feeling a bit blue. To perk myself up, I dressed in blue from head to toe, including my favorite soft sweater. And these earrings, blue like Bermuda's bays.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This morning I chose black corduroys and a white sweater, then began to search for earrings. Black and white. I pulled out my egg carton of birds. Penguins.

I used to teach about penguins at this time of year. Our first grade visited every continent in Social Studies. I popped in to teach science. In Antarctica, we studied penguins. 

One Christmas, my children offered to make me earrings. What would I like? My list was long, full of science projects: African elephants, pandas from Asia, paper airplanes, Monarch butterflies... What fun I had on Christmas morning opening all of those tiny boxes of homemade earrings!

First thing this morning, a little girl in my math group looked at my ears. "I know why you wore those! They go with the multiplication problem that I wrote about the two iceburgs that each had 11 penguins on them!"

"Perfect!" I replied. "We'll start with your problem! Everyone write the equation for Hannah's problem. How many penguins would that be in all?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Of Cycles and the Moon

For quite a few years, I knew that the tiny box sent me each birthday and Christmas by my brother's wife would contain my new favorite earrings. Ann frequented museum gift shops such as the one at Atlanta's High Museum and unique boutiques with names like "Transitor Sister" where old radio parts became jewelry.

About five years ago, I stopped wearing those treasures after Ann broke my brother's heart, announcing one day that she was leaving him for his best friend. I found myself eying those earrings with fury. I left them dangling on my racks: wearing them would be disloyal. After a while, my brother fell in love and remarried. He adores his lovely, creative wife, and she adores him back.

Gradually, I began to wear Ann's gifts again. I wore this pair today. To me they have always symbolized the balance of opposites. Curves balance angles. Green balances purple. Yin/yang.

The circle is round like tonight's full moon, but as dark as a new moon's night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snowday Shrinky Dinks

Even before I knew that today was be our first full snowday of the school year, I had read the Writers Almanac and discovered that Jan. 18, 1882 was the birthday of A.A. Milne. Hmph, I grumphed, I have no Winnie-the-Pooh earrings. As soon as I discovered that school was cancelled, I decided on one snowday project: Shrinky Dinks to honor A.A. Milne.

Knowing full well that Milne did not draw the illustrations, I made an extra pair, and a bonus necklace (well, really I made it first and discovered that the plastic did not shrink quite as much as expected and the resulting dangler was too big to hang from my ear).

Now I just have to remember to wear my other pair to honor Ernest Howard Shephard (10 December 1879 – 24 March 1976) later in the year.

While I've read that both Christopher Robin Milne and Ernest Shephard felt that Winnie-the-Pooh had overshadowed their whole lives, I still love the whimsical world of childhood that Milne and Shephard created. On this day off, I hope imagination is inspiring many North Pole Expotitions and Woozle hunting parties.

"Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."     -A.A. Milne

Monday, January 17, 2011

 Long ago when my children were small, we watched the creator of this pair of earrings molding Fimo polymer clay. She started in the center of her design and laid the different colors of clay down in a tube, working her way to the outside of the design. What boggled my mind was that the resulting tube of clay was about two inches in diameter and maybe eight inches long. Then she began to roll the tube. When it was about an inch in diameter, she cut off slices to hang on necklaces. Then she kept rolling until the tube was about a centimeter in diameter, like these earrings.
Finally, before our eyes, she sliced the clay into circles. Sure enough, her design had shrunk to make a tiny, perfect version of her original image.

I bought this pair in honor of our Basset Hound, Rosie. She had no interest in posing with them, and even knocked them out of my hand as she rolled over to avoid the camera's flash.

I wore them today because I had planned to have my students write a narrative about an animal they know. Another lesson intervened. Now what shall I wear tomorrow when I really introduce the Animal Character Sketch?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Crafty Days

I spent some time today knitting, inspired by my daughter's newly completed infinity scarf. I got to thinking about crafts that we've done together over the years, and found this pair of Sculpy earrings from a bead making weekend some 15 years ago. I guess my palette hasn't changed much over the years...

Today is day 16; 349 pairs of earrings left in the year!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Present for Dr. King's Birthday

I opened a drawer in search of a pair of earrings to wear in honor of Dr. King, and spotted this tiny green present given to me by sister-in-law Charlene who knew the struggles the craftswoman faced. When I opened the box and saw the tiny white crosses, I decided that these would be perfect for today.

I love Bryan Collier's illustrations in Diane Rappaport's picture book Martin's Big Words, so many of them framed in stained glass.

"Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."

Friday, January 14, 2011


Yesterday, 8 of our 25 first graders were out sick; five with fevers. The day before, one of my students made history with the most violent stomach bug anyone in the front office can recall; the green of his skin has earned equally effusive descriptions.

Some years ago, when I studied pond life with my 8th grade science students, I bought this pair, one amoeba and one paramecium, from a young entrepreneur-artist named Jabebo who I saw annually at a science convention. I sometimes used these earrings as extra credit identification questions on a lab exam. (Check out Jabebo at http://www.jabebo.com/)

Today, I used them to start a conversation about germs. None of my 3rd graders knew what I had dangling from my ears today. After a series of wild guesses (Monsters? Fried Eggs? Paint palettes?) they began to zero in: Fungi? Plankton? "Now you're on the right track," I whispered. "These living things are so small that you can't see them."

"Germs!" said Addie.
"Germs," I agreed. Then we discussed the importance of washing our hands. I'm glad the weekend has arrived. I hope that the germs will have been washed away by Monday.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today as I scurried about to get ready for my day, I found myself preoccupied with health concerns. Not mine--those of my father-in-law, of a friend, and of my country. In my hurry, I grabbed this scarf, given to me by my in-laws this Christmas, and chose a pair of earrings whose colors tied it to the sweater I'd already donned.
Today, doctors implanted a pacemaker in my father-in-law's chest. Today, our friend Rob remained in ICU after surgery to repair his torn aorta. And today, Americans discussed how to avoid senseless shootings like those in Tucson on Saturday: Improve mental healthcare? Improve gun/ammo control? Rethink the value of civil discourse? Try harder to respect those who espouse opinions with which we disagree? 
Today, my heart ached with sadness for the nine year old girl, shot on Saturday and buried today.
These lovely earrings took on a new meaning today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This morning I went downstairs, started a fire in the woodstove, poured my coffee, and sat down to enjoy my two hour delay, still smiling about yesterday's Hoping for Snow earrings. I glanced out the window, and there on the railing, on the birdfeeder, and on the snowy deck, perched six puffed-up cardinals enjoying their breakfast of sunflower seeds. I noticed the three males first, their red feathers so striking against the snow. And then I saw the females, whose colors blended in with the redwood stain on the deck.

I guess that today the birds chose my earrings: pewter cardinals, given to me one Valentine's Day by my husband John. Perfect to wear with another of my favorite winter sweaters on this chilly morning as I waited for the fire to warm me in my chair.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whenever snow is forecast, we teachers feel the same excitement as our students. Snow day? Could it be? Today's forecast was a tricky one: maybe yes, maybe no. Another big storm for the south and east, not much headed our way. So as I gazed at my collection this morning, it took me a while to choose. I have a couple of pair of tried-and-true snow earrings. But with predictions of 1 to 3 inches, I opted for a pair that somehow seemed to me to wish for snow.

I almost didn't purchase these amazing recycled 16-pointed folded paper orbs at my favorite summer craft spot, Cook Forest PA's Sawmill Center for the Arts. I thought that they looked too big, and I worried that I would never wear them. Much as I admired the tiny origami, I didn't want to buy a pair that I would never wear. But when my daughter pointed out that they only cost $1, I decided to risk the purchase. They have been lying in a drawer for a few years, unworn. But today I think more people commented on my earrings than on any day in recent memory: students, colleagues, people I passed in the halls at school. My response, "I'm hoping they will help bring on the snow."

Hardly a flake fell all day. But just a few moments ago, my husband John announced, "The snow is really coming down!"  I only took them off long enough to take this photo. I'm still hoping.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Global Teaching

On my left ear, I wore the Americas and on my right ear Europe, Africa and Asia. Most maps show the world differently, in accordance with that notion that our hemisphere is to the west of the other. But of course it all depends on where you split the globe to lay it flat on paper.

We're beginning our 3rd grade Family History Project in which each of my students tries to learn about their ancestry. I ask, "Who brought your name to America?" and "Who was your earliest immigrant ancestor?" What fun it is to point out that even those of us with Cherokee or Lakota or Tlingit ancestors are the descendants of immigrants, since "Native Americans" emigrated from Asia! And we all could trace our ancestry to Africa, if only families kept better records...

Most years, I wear this pair of earrings several times. But this year, only once. The stress of matching each pair of earrings with the right day is mounting!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Birds for an Empty Nest

My nest has emptied again; with Phoebe’s departure for her second semester of college, the bustle of winter break comes to an end. After she drove away, I realized that I had yet to choose today’s earrings—how better to distract myself from the sudden silence. I wandered upstairs, thinking of fledglings leaving the nest. From among my many pairs of birds, I selected one that has lain unworn in a drawer for several years. Although they are now a drab gray, I chose to buy these carved soapstone birds because they were a brilliant blue, perfect for the two-week nature study unit on Eastern Bluebirds that I used to teach every spring. They look nothing like they did 12 years ago. But then neither do my offspring, who have once again taken flight; and neither, for that matter, do I. All of those other birds, I’ll save for days when I venture away from this empty nest. These little gray birds need some space to fly once more.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One Week Old Today

2011 is one week old! On Day 8, I wore a pair of earrings that I'd never worn before, one that my daughter Kathe bought at the Home Body shop in Blacksburg, VA, to give me for Christmas. The owner travels the world, buying Fair Trade goods to support local craftspeople.

I wore this pair tonight to a Twelfth (well, 14th, but who's counting...) Night celebration led by my husband's church choir. In honor of Epiphany, the choir throws a party for the church with food, fellowship, and song, and their friends brave the wintry wind to gather together with them. I have no earrings of gold, frankincense, or myrrh (although someone recently gave my daughter Phoebe a box containing all three; maybe, by next Twelfth Night...) so I opted for a regal-bling sort of look. Many strands of royal-purple beads.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.                        -J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, January 7, 2011

This morning, I focused on my coin earrings. I have pennies and nickels; I have coins from the Virgin Islands.  Those will have to wait for another day: today I chose a pair given to me by one of my first 3rd grade students.

Isabelle went to Guatemala on vacation. She missed school. And when she returned she strode up to me, practically dancing with anticipation, and handed me a gift. When I opened the tiny box, I gasped. "How lovely!"

"They are Guatemalan coins," she announced with pride. "You taught me how to make change."

"And look at the green beads, your favorite color!" I replied. "Coins with green beads! I will always remember that you gave me these earrings."

Why did I want coins today? Today my class and I calculated how to allocate the $2,845 that we raised for the non-profit organization Room to Read. Should we pay $125 to commission a children's book in a local language in Laos or Zambia? $1000 to send a girl to secondary school? $500 to train a library teacher? How many of each choice? We sold our own handicrafts items at a holiday craft bazaar in December. Fleece hats, clay ornaments, festive headbands, baked goods. We earned $2,845. Through our own labor, my 3rd graders and I are sending money to promote literacy in developing countries. Coins, like the Trick-or-Treat for Unicef of my childhood.

The next time I see Isabelle, who must be almost 15 by now, I hope I'll remember to tell her how much those earrings mean to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

4 X 4 Array

Today's earrings are an interwoven pattern of many threads of my life. Blues, the colors that sooth my soul. Geometric balance, squares on squares, so pleasing to my eye. A multiplicative array, 4 x 4, touching on the topic of today's 3rd grade math lesson: perfect squares; 16 a square number, 17 a prime. And closest of all to my heart, they were bought for me by husband as a gift for his parents, aged 84 and 89 to give me this Christmas. My mother-in-law and I share a love of blue. My father-in-law loves geometry and design. Earrings and a matching scarf. Such a gift to treasure.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some of my favorite earrings are made of recycled cardboard, like this pair that came from a craft fair.  After wandering through the entire fair, I decided to spend my earring budget on this pair with colors I love together. The artist had made hundreds of pairs, in a myriad of color combinations and a tantalizing array of shapes and sizes. Craft fairs offer that delicious opportunity to admire, to covet, and then to make a choice. One pair from among thousands.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A True Posting

Only rarely do I wear posts rather than dangling earrings. But after seeing ammonites at the Museum of Natural History yesterday,  this morning I sought out this pair that I bought at a National Science Teachers Association convention in Boston 10 or 15 years ago. (How I used to laugh at my dad when he made estimates like that, when 10 years was my age, and 15 years was half again as much!) After a childhood spent avoiding my dad's enthusiasm for rocks, minerals,and fossils, I have come to love exploring geology. These stone spirals were once homes to squidlike animals-- hundreds of millions of years ago!

Why dangle rather than post? My ear lobes were prone to infection, which posts seemed to breed. My family doctor once told me in no uncertain terms that I should let those barbaric holes close up if I wanted to be free of infection. Instead, I stopped wearing posts.

My ammonites are resting on another ancient relic: a sweater I knit of Icelandic wool some 30 years ago. I pull it out of the cedar chest to wear every year on a chilly winter day. As I aimed the camera, Maia kept nudging my arm aside. When she finally lay down, I snapped this photo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Preserved in Amber

I started teaching middle school science just after Jurassic Park was released in 1993, and I bought my first pair of amber earrings at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History the next spring. Dinosaur DNA provided a great hook for my students; I search for earrings that contain the wings or legs of insects to wear when talking about fossils and evolution.
Today I am heading to DC to visit the museum again, this time to see the display about the evolution of the horse, in preparation for my school's cultural study of Spain this spring. The Spanish reintroduced horses to the Americas in the 1500's. But those horses are descendants of equines that evolved on this continent during a time that horses became extinct in the Old World. Our horses migrated back across the Bering land bridge to repopulate Asia and Europe. I love the opportunity to explore the themes of immigration, evolution, and climate change with children.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One summer, maybe 10 years ago, Käthe and I took a one day jewelry class at the Sawmill Center in Cook Forest. I had bought a pair of delicately balanced earrings at the craft market ($5, I think; someone's labor of love) and I wanted to try to make similar ones myself.

Our creative and knowledgeable instructor, who sadly lacked tact or good humor, thought my efforts only slightly less futile than my purchase was foolish; over lunch I reminded Käthe of my granddaddy Bedell's admonition: Be kind to those who offend; their shoes are most likely too tight.

Blueberry beads,
fruits of a long ago summer,
worn to match a sweater
knit with love
for one who outgrew it
even longer ago.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Collection

How did I come to own so many earrings? At some point in the last twenty years, I started seeking earrings that correlated with topics I teach. Science teaching offered such a wealth of inspiration! And as my collection grew, contributions followed.

Although my husband John often sighs, "You have enough earrings...," it is now said in playful anticipation of my reply, "I could never have enough earrings." For me, earrings have become symbolic of the fullness of life. Through each pair, I remember the giver or the seller; I recall where I received the gift or made the purchase. Almost daily, someone (often a student) asks about my earrings, allowing me to reminisce about lessons taught, about field trips and vacations, about students, friends, and family members.

Today, my choice was a challenge, since today I am at home and have no plans to venture out. I don't want to wear a pair that some other one of the year's 364 days would merit. Today is 1/1/11; I briefly searched for vertical 1-like earrings. Then my gaze alighted on a wavy pair punctuated with aqua, blue and purple seed beads, made for me by my daughter Käthe one summer afternoon when we sat together in the shade of a white pine at our picnic table. They dangle from my ears, each a thin wire that meanders, dotted with my favorite colors, hopeful emblems of the year ahead.