365 Days of Earrings

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Birthday Past and a Present

Today I wore a pair of earrings made of broken china, blue on white, encased in decorative silver. A craftswoman sold them at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival two years ago, and I requested a pair as my birthday gift. They cost more than I usually spend on a pair of earrings, but they appeal to me in so many ways: for their simple beauty, their tie to the past, and their reuse of something old and broken.

In Social Studies I began a simulated archaeological dig with my students, sifting through layers of substrate in search of artifacts that can teach us about the past. We didn't get to the layer of colonial treasures which contains broken pottery. But we will soon see the blue and white standing out from the sandy substrate. I look forward to the first child announcing, "I see something blue!"

Today would have been my mother's 88th birthday. While she loved china, she would have disapproved of these earrings--but then she counseled me against ever piercing my ears. When I was a young teenager in the 1970's and all of my friends were piercing their ears, my mother told me, "Piercing is for gypsies. If a lady wears earrings, she should clip them onto her ears." She had been dead for 8 years before I decided to pierce my ears. I hope that if she could see how fond I am of my earrings, and how much joy I find in choosing and wearing them, she would be able to look at these objects dangling from my ears with a smile.

When I chose these earrings this morning, I thought of my mom and how she always encouraged me to find and follow my passions. And to do well whatever I set out to do. I guess my birthday gift to her is that I'm following a passion, and trying to do it well. I hope that would matter more than a couple of tiny holes in my earlobes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dance by the Light of the Moon

My son returned home from college for Spring Break today. (Spring? Not quite, at least not here!) I bought these earrings when he turned three, thinking they might help me remember his early passions.

For that whole summer, he was a wolf. At any moment, in any place, he would reach for something appropriately long and thin, and announce, "I am a wolf and this will be my tail."

One summer evening when Will was restless, his Uncle John pointed at a bean bag chair and said, "This is where wolves sleep." Will curled up and lay still for an hour, until he finally fell asleep. He was a wolf.

From the day he was born and well into his toddlerhood, I could anticipate sleepless nights by the phases of the moon. When the full moon shone through the window, he awoke ready to celebrate. He would dance and sing for an hour or two, then cuddle up and sleep.

He's home for a few days. The moon is a waning crescent and the night is overcast. Wolves should sleep well tonight, even if they stay up to see the final Oscar awarded.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

As far as I know, I own no Libyan earrings. These lizards were made in South Africa, at the opposite end of the continent. May the wisdom of Mandela reach into the hearts of Qadhafi and his sons. Events in Libya leave me speechless. The horror.

I hope that one day I will own earrings made in Libya by people who know freedom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A long and winding road

This morning when I left home I was sure that the hard part of my day would be over by noon.

I wore these earrings because they reminded me of the winding path of stepping stones that we were going to design on our 100th day of school. My third graders led teams of kindergartners, first, and second graders as they each designed a stone for our number path. All went smoothly. These inter-age groups bring out the best in all of the children--a source of great joy to me.

As I drove home this afternoon, powerful gusts of wind buffeted my car. I headed up our winding, single lane road watching the trees sway overhead. About half way up I came to a fallen tree. As darkness began to gather, I collected loose branches and threw them into the woods. I broke off the ends of the tree top, until I'd cleared enough to drive around the tree trunk, two wheels on the muddy left bank, two on the edge of the dirt road. Trusty Subaru!

A bit farther up hill, I came to a second fallen tree. Same routine, with a couple of variations. Grape vines make knots that tie the branches together, even when they've shattered in a fall. Steeper bank, tiltier maneuver.

Onward. On our drive, I met a third downed tree--more slender than the others, stretching completely across the road. I set to breaking branches. Slender, but not brittle. So I decided to lift the tree and walk it until it allowed my car to pass. I battled the tangled underbrush but eventually swiveled the twenty feet of tree, gatelike, and drove on home.

My boots were made for strolling, not lumberjacking, but I kept them on to grab a handsaw and load the chainsaw in the back of my car to meet John as he headed up the road so that we could finish clearing the drive.

These earrings were a gift from my daughter Kathe. Now they remind me of a long and winding road. Some days are like that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Historic Voyage

404 years ago a group of 144 men and boys set sail from London on 3 ships. After a journey of 144 days, they chose a site on the river we now call the James River and built a settlement they named Jamestown.

It was a miserable location, where the drinking water was brackish, the swamps bred mosquitoes, and the local people fluctuated in their hospitality. Somehow, in spite of a multitude of setbacks, the Virginia colony survived.

Each year in late February, I board a schoolbus with about 25 third graders and head to Jamestown. We journey for 3+ hours filled with snacks and iPod music and DS chat. We visit the site of the original settlement, and discover how chilly it is along the river. We imagine the Powhatan people lurking in the woods. We stop by the glasshouse, located on the sandy bank of the James River, and imagine how hard they must have worked to stoke those wood fires and heat sand to make glass.
Then we drive to the Jamestown Settlement to visit replicas of the ships, the Powhatan Indian village, and the fort. Three hours of history without snacks or iPods. Then back on the bus for 3 more hours. Quite a voyage for all of us!

I wore coins today: my Virginia quarter necklace, and a pair of Canadian 10 cent earrings.
By the time we return to school, we're exhausted from our travels. What wimps we 21st century folk have become. 144 days below decks--now there's a reason to whine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tender Soles

In 3rd grade we're writing historical fiction. Each of the children chose a European country, researched a bit to find why people emigrated, and then created characters and a plot that ends in America.

I love our discussions of what an emigrant would choose to pack if s/he only had one trunk. Traveling clothes would be so important, too, since they might be all you would have when you arrived at your destination.

Today I wore my little porcelain shoes, lovely to look at, but not so good for traveling! Shoes, I always remind the class, are important to travelers. You can endure a lot of hardship if your feet are warm and dry. Tomorrow we go to Jamestown to visit the first permanent English settlement in North America. Shoes can make or break the trip.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wishing and hoping

I went to sleep last night pretty sure that I had overplayed my hand, wearing snowflake earrings with such a small chance of snow. This morning hopes of a 2-hour delay evaporated as the clock ticked past 6:30. But then, a miraculous thing happened: the phone rang at 6:36 and announced NO SCHOOL. A whole day to catch up on my many projects. Just what I needed!

So. What to wish for next...

For now, I'm content. Although it is George Washington's birthday, and I have no earrings to praise our amazing first president. He didn't even make the top five when Americans were asked this week. I need some George Washingtons! Maybe dollar bill origami?

From my years in Savannah, I own quite a few beach theme earrings. Today, I chose a pair of fish, since I'm thinking about my Ms Frizzle costume for next week's Academy Awards of Books ceremony: Ms Frizzle will be wearing a lot of fish. But not these. They are way too tame for The Frizz.

I'm just thinking about the beach. A good thing to do during a February snow day. And I'm wishing that Americans will soon vote George Washington back into the top 5.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Galvanizing snowflakes

A couple of years ago when we went to D.C. to see Westside Story, we browsed through a holiday street bazaar nearby. I was captivated by the work of a craftsman who welded jewelry out of hardware: nails, nuts, bolts.

I requested this pair as a Christmas gift. What a great display of hexagons! Six points--snowflakes!

When I left home this morning, wearing these, the forecast called for an inch of wintry mix. Whenever anyone mentioned the weather, I tilted my head, dangled an earring, and pointed out, "I'm doing my part!" By the time I left school this afternoon, the radio advised that the area prepare for 3-5 inches of snow. Wunderground was calling for 4-6 inches west of town.

An icy mix is already accumulating here on our mountain. Now of course my earrings don't really influence the weather. But I'm just saying, when I left home this morning, wearing this pair, the forecast called for an inch of wintry mix.

I think I better have my headlamp handy, in case the power goes out. And remember to be careful what I wish for!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You are my sunshine!

I really need 3 ears for this message to work, but, alas I have only 2. 

I got home this afternoon after spending last night watching my son in a play while sitting next to my two daughters. How my heart is warmed in the presence of these three.

Once a cousin of mine gave a eulogy for his grandmother in which he gave her the ultimate praise: the grandchildren had discovered after her death that each of them was convinced that he or she was her favorite--she had made each feel so special and so loved.

But I have only two ears. My kids are my sunshine. They make me happy when skies are gray. They'll never know how much I love them. Please don't take my sunshine away. One of them is going to be sure of being the unloved one. If only Roberta had shared her secret with me before she died. How do you let them each know the myriad ways they are special, without the others comparing themselves and feeling that they are lacking?

To my sunshines, one and all! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Like eyes of piercing green

"So what do those have to do with Ajax?" asked my daughter. "Don't tell me--I'll wait and read it." To begin with, I wore these earrings because they were a gift from my son, who we had all traveled to see perform the title role in the Greek tragedy, Ajax, in a production called The Ajax Project. He held these earrings for me to take a photo.

When he first appeared on stage, Ajax was drenched in blood after committing slaughter. As he looked up toward the balcony where we sat, his piercing green eyes shone out from the splatter of red that coated his face, hair, and clothing. 
Green piercing eyes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I opted for butterflies today. Time to start anew. The weather tried to convince me that spring is here. But I have some snowflake earrings still on reserve, just in case.

I spent the day researching, gathering supplies, and making a few test model stepping stones for our  100th Day number path project at school.

I'd never mixed concrete before, which amazes me because not a day passed in my childhood without mention of concrete. My dad was passionate about lightweight concrete. His workshop was full of perlite and vermiculite, Portland cement, and concrete testing methods. Our family vacations always involved stopping to see new concrete roof decks and attend meetings of the American Concrete Institute or the American Society for Testing and Materials.

I'm very proud of the mold I created: two segments of garden edging that form a 14 inch circle. I followed an online recipe and mixed the concrete with water until it had the consistency of brownie mix. (I don't think my dad would have approved. Very unscientific!) How cool it is that the aggregate (that's the term for the sand and gravel mixed with cement to make concrete... I knew that before I could read)
... the aggregate sinks as you trowel the concrete, leaving a smooth, flat surface. 

I guess memory works in much the same way, as life washes over us, leaving the past hidden. So much lies just below the surface.

Now I wait to see whether glass and tile adhere to the concrete without special bonding agents. Concrete needs time to cure. Time heals all, or so they say!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finding Solace in Ritual

Today, I went to church for the "Celebration of the Life" of six-year-old Hugh who died a week ago today. I wore silver stars and a silver angel dangling from a silver chain. The usher led me to a seat in the choir, just a few feet from the string quartet, the organ, and the soloists. It was a musical feast for my soul. The wooden choir stalls, the limestone, and the Episcopal ritual reminded me of my childhood Fridays at chapel in the National Cathedral. For the beauty of the earth... he leadeth me beside the still waters... The purple headed mountain, the river running by, the sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky.

The stars link back to my post from a week ago today: http://yearring.blogspot.com/2011/02/when-heaven-opens.html, to the Inuit proverb, "Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."

The angel was a gift from a student named Andrew some 17 years ago. I've treasured it in my holiday drawer all these years, and smiled a hello as I see it several times a year.  Andrew died in a single-car crash a couple of years after he graduated from my school's 8th grade. Today my thoughts were full of Andrew, of my cousins Brad and Ben, and of others who died too young. My cup runneth over?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


My son gave me this pair of earrings for Christmas this year. We had wandered independently through a street market in D.C., and from among the thousands of earrings on display, he chose these. "They are different from any you have," he said when I opened my gift. "I think they are lanterns."

Christmas day, I set about finding out what they said. I looked up alphabets from around the world until I found one that contained these symbols.

"I think it's Tibetan," I announced after some searching.
Fortunately I was looking for the most famous phrase in the Tibetan language, the phrase on every prayer wheel, Om mani padme hum.
"The mantra Om Mani Päme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.
"So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?"
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones[8]

For me, Wednesday is yoga day. Today I wore my prayer wheels. Om Mani Padme Hum. Six syllables. Six perfections which require a lifetime of devotion.

A lantern to guide my path, given to me by my son. Hum.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Power of Discovery

A few summers ago at a gallery in Berkeley Springs, WV where I like to stop and browse when I'm driving without pets, male companions, or deadlines, I saw some very beautiful earrings made of bent wire and thin beads. Unwilling to pay $50 a pair for bent wire and beads, I went home a tried to make some. I decided I should buy thinner wire, and try again. But I kept the earrings, and wore them today.

Early morning chatter in 3rd grade:

"We must be doing something with squares."

"Or maybe circles and squares."

As math class began, I wrote the word QUADRILATERAL on the board. "Does anyone know that word?"

"Nope, but I bet it has to do with squares," said Grayson.

"Hmm." I replied. "A square is one type of quadrilateral. Does anyone think they know another?"

And so we continued, discussing and describing and drawing and building four-sided figures.

Why name triangles for their angles and quadrilaterals for their sides? Why not trilateral and quadriangle? Why not name a shape for the number of vertices? More history mysteries!
"Maybe one of you will discover a something new, a planet or a new power source or a life-saving medicine. The discoverer gets to choose the name! Just like the Roman who named the quadrilateral thousands of years ago!"

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Day of Serendipity and Mystery

How serendipitous that today, Valentine's Day, when I needed to teach that triangle lesson I missed last week, I could wear my hearts dangling from triangles. But look, those shapes are not really triangles! There on today's math worksheet was that very shape--minus the heart, which my students drew on it along with the notation that this shape has too many sides, too many angles, and too many vertices to be a triangle. I wonder if this lesson will ever fall on Valentine's Day again?

I love the fact that the origins of this holiday and of its symbol are among the mysteries lost to history. Which of the three St. Valentines are we celebrating? No one knows for sure. Is the heart shape really based the seed of an extinct plant, an ancient method of birth control? Do we really care? Or do we just want a day to celebrate love at this time of year when winter lingers on and we anticipate that spring is just heartbeats away?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Spanish Zebro

Today I learned about the Zebro, an early horse that some believe still lives in Spain, in the wild Sorraia Mustangs. Cave drawings in Altamira, dating from 30,000 BC, show horses that share features with the modern Sorraia.

I am researching horse evolution for our Spanish cultural study program next month, a process that takes me exploring in many directions.

As I explore, I encounter fascinating people who devote their lives to trying to prove intriguing theories. One quote that pops up again and again is this:
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
Paleontologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and creationists all seem to espouse this notion as they seek to prove their points about evolution. Absence of evidence is just reason to keep looking for evidence!
And so I wear my painted wooden zebra earrings, purchased long ago at Neptune Beach in Florida just because they were so fun--and ridiculously inexpensive, as I recall. I've worn them before during African culture studies and when Z was the letter of the week in my kindergarten classroom.
Long live the zebro!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eqypt's Sun, Reborn

This morning I awoke to the news that Egypt was continuing to celebrate freedom in this new day. I heard an interview with one of the great heroes of this liberation movement, Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who helped organize the peaceful protests online--on his anonymous Facebook page, named We Are All Khaled Said in remembrance of a man who was killed while protesting in June. 

I found this photo of Ghonim's January 27th arrest in today's Huffington Post. He didn't emerge from prison--where he was blindfolded and kept in solitary confinement--until Monday, Feb. 7. What a joy it must have been to discover that his peaceful revolution was still alive.

Today I wore the second pair of scarab earrings that I made on January 28th when this protest movement was still so fragile. I thought about saving them for Egypt's election day, but decided to have faith that this freedom movement will continue to grow.

Tonight on the news I watched crowds of people cleaning Cairo's Tahrir Square, and thought again of the amazing metaphor of the scarab, the dung beetle that patiently rolls balls of waste into its burrow, then lays eggs in the dung. The larvae hatch, feed on the dung, and young beetles emerge, as if magic. The ancient Egyptians saw the rising of the sun each day as part of this same magical cycle, and said that Khepera the scarab god, was rolling the sun across the heavens.

I think that this pair looks like newly emerged beetles, still sandy from life under the desert floor.

They have much work to do before their shells will shine in the sunlight.

But how much they accomplished while hidden underground, working quietly to prepare for this moment when they would emerge to undertake their real work.

Perhaps on election day, I will remake these brighter beads into a new pair.

I hope that Egypt has many Wael Ghonims who are ready to help Egypt's sun to rise each day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Like Leaves in the Wind

Today I wore triangles, and never got around to that geometry lesson. My class had a long discussion about the first grader who died yesterday, about cancer and sadness and loss. We talked about how hard it must be for Hugh's brother and his mom and dad. And then all of the children made cards for the family with messages like, "Remember how Hugh liked to laugh."

How lucky we are to live in a time and place where the death of a child is rare, unlike our not-so-distant ancestors and the residents of developing countries for whom childhood illnesses remain deadly threats.

These earrings were a gift from my mother-in-law who bought them to support the work of the Lutheran Church in Tanzania. They were made by hand of gourds and homemade beads. All day the tiny metal leaves dangling at the bottom jingled faintly as if moved by a gentle wind. Remember. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Heaven Opens

As I drove to school this morning listening to songs that my daughter Phoebe burned on a CD, I blurted, "Triangles!"

I had grabbed these earrings after thinking about my non-eventful, 92nd day of school: field trip cancelled due to cold; get to school early to tear out worksheets for the geometry unit; make sure we had enough straws for making triangles; prepare for nominating Best Series for the Academy Awards of Books; have materials for pop-up cards since Valentine's Day is on Monday; spelling activity; Thursday newsletter ideas... 

"Why didn't I wear triangle earrings?" I muttered to myself. Driving alone to school and back seems to make me more prone to talk to myself aloud. "Oh, well. Some other day."

It wasn't until I took out my earrings to photograph them this evening that I thought about them again. I bought them long ago from the Pennsylvania artist who makes her own Fimo clay beads. I thought the purple center looked like a protostar surrounded by stars: The birth of a new star from a giant molecular cloud.

This afternoon a member of our first grade class died after battling cancer for almost two years. Throughout, Hugh was surrounded by the love of his family and friends.   

I think that now these earrings will always make me think of Hugh and of the Inuit proverb, "Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."

Sometimes, when I am alone in the car on a starry night, I talk to some of my lost ones, and bask in the shine of their love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter Comforts

This week in Social Studies, I set up some exotic islands and sent my students sailing the high seas, island hopping and recording what they found on graph paper maps and in naturalist journals. They learned to use map coordinates by following the ceiling tile grids on their travels. Today, the ships returned to their home port, and I hired the crews to create illustrated maps and guidebooks that we could use to encourage other people to travel to those islands. I paid my staff in hot chocolate.
We Virginians expect some cold spells. But we also expect some stretches of temperatures in the 40's. Not this winter. So today I pulled out these earrings that my friend Linda gave me years ago. And I served hot chocolate during Social Studies. When another teacher asked my student Grace what had gotten into me today, serving hot chocolate during class, Grace replied, "I guess she was just feeling all cold on the outside and warm and fuzzy on the inside!"

I photographed my earrings on top of the woodstove that warms my outside each evening. The comforts of winter are not lost on Folly who dozes next to the stove.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ice Queens

Today's weather forecast was bleak. Cold and getting colder and windier through the day. I chose my warm gray sweater and my iciest looking earrings. I worried that I might look a bit like the Ice Queen, so I tried to lighten my mood with a bit of blue--my pottery shard necklace from the now defunct Red Door in Upperville.

My best student comment of the day: "Wow! I was just reading a biography of Queen Elizabeth and she was wearing those same earrings in a picture!"

Queen Elizabeth I has always been a hero of mine, a strong woman who survived and thrived against all odds. Who knew that we shared a taste for similar jewelry? If so, she would have loved shopping at the Sawmill Center in Cook Forest, PA.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Of Storks and Slings and Paper Chains

I chose my pin first this morning. It was a gift I received when my daughter Phoebe was born and I've always loved it as a memento of her arrival in Savannah. I wore it as a birth announcement for my colleague Cate whose baby Niamh Ellen was born on February 5th. Cate was a student of mine when she was in 8th grade, and has now returned to our school as a first grade teacher. She and her husband Michael plan to return to Ireland where they met and where this Gaelic name will be right at home. What a lucky baby!

I thought these earrings matched the pin--not just because they are also tarnished silver. They remind me of a baby sling in which to carry a baby close to your heart. I made such a sling for Cate out of soft flannel.

The background is folded paper, ready to make a few more valentines. At this time of year I make and decorate paper chains of animals to give as valentines. I've strayed from traditional pinks and reds, trying to make for each of my students a chain in a color I know they love. Blue foxes, fuschia monkeys, green ponies. All cut out and ready to decorate! Valentines Day is a week away!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy 4709!

First thing this morning I heard that traffic will be a mess in DC due to the Chinese New Year's festivities--So I got to wear my Chinese Zodiac earrings after all!

As I thought about how to photograph them, I considered searching for something Chinese, something my father or his father or his father before him had brought back from a trip to China. My dad lived in China from 1946 to 1949, working with UNRA on construction projects. His Fa was a missionary with Yale in China. My great-grandfather traveled around the world in his youth, and brought many treasures home. I closed my eyes to think of where to look... something Chinese. And the ensuing grin spread from ear to ear. I'm surrounded by stuff that was made in China!

Here is my quick assemblage of Made in China: silk from China, cotton from Hong Kong. I thought I'd found yoga pants from Taiwan, for polical balance. But they're from Thailand. My dad lived there (it was called Siam then) after he left China. But I feel guilty for not trying harder.
So here's picture of a family artifact from China before the revolution, a carving on a trunk that one of them used to transport some of his purchases. Temples and junques and an overhanging forest of bamboo.

Happy Year of the Metal Rabbit: 4709!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My World Encased in Ice

This morning my world was coated in ice--even the air looked hoary. When I persuaded myself to step out into the chilling mist for a necessary trip to Battery Mart to replace my failing car battery and climbed the treacherous hillside to the car, I considered the possibility that the car and I might not make it safely to the foot of the mountain and that I might have to abandon the car and walk back home.

I painstakingly negotiated the slippery slope back to the porch to get my snowshoes and poles, then clomped back up to the car. With snowshoes, I feel free from fear. I know that I can walk over deep snow and up icy slopes. When I returned with my new battery and my carefully calibrated pair of shopping bags filled with food and supplies, I clomped back down over the ice, so glad to be wearing my shoeshoes.

My earrings remind me a of world encased in ice. My daughter Käthe made them for me once upon a time. Tonight I made her potato broccoli soup recipe--comfort food against the cold--and then discovered that she had cooked it tonight, too. The thermometer reads 32˚F outside, 65˚F in my kitchen. Snowshoes, soup, and a woodstove. And earrings to tie the story together! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hyperbolic Eccentricity

Today I wore the earrings I bought at the Smithsonian’s Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit last month. Having not studied the hyperbola in 40 years (9th grade Algebra II), I enjoyed exploring it a bit on the web. The word origins are especially delightful to me:

Hyperbola derives from the Greek word uperbolh which means “excessive.” We call deliberate and obvious exaggeration hyperbole. What’s excessive about a hyperbola?

Well, it turns out that Apollonius of Perga, the Greek who wrote about Conic Sections in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, compared other curves to the circle. All points on the circle are the same distance from its center. The circle is defined as not having any eccentricity; other curves are rated for their eccentricity. How wonderful is that? I come from a long line of eccentrics, myself, but I hadn’t thought about how that means we are pushing the curve out of its circular orbit. We’re not square pegs trying to fit into round holes. We’re actually stretching the holes to fit us!

So. A circle has zero eccentricity. An ellipse has an eccentricity between zero and one. (In Greek, ellipse means deficient!) A parabola has an eccentricity of one. (In Greek, parabola means comparable.) And those crazy hyperbolas are the most eccentric with their eccentricities that exceed one. (How excessive can you get?)

My earrings clearly fall into the excessive category with those swirls of crocheted green and tufts of teal jutting out from the lilac base. They were made of recycled cashmere and silk yarn by Sandy Meeks who sells her wares at www.meekssandygirl.etsy.com.

To make hyperbolic crochet that curves eccentrically, you just add stitches at regular intervals. How does this connect to my day? Today our math consultant Monica Neagoy visited my classroom. Watching her teach is an inspiration! She taught the culminating lesson in our investigation of repeating patterns. Hyperbolic shapes form when you follow a repeating pattern of increase. QED.

Addendum: I think mathematicians should examine curly hair like that of Apollonius. Hyperbolic? Truly!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I googled arkadangling today, and found my blog postings. And there, in their midst, was this one, translated into a language that I don't know.

I'm pretty sure the blog is about scarab beetles.


I'd say what the date of the posting was, but I don't read the language. I think it's Jan. 31: 31 Ocak 2011 Pazartesi

Postage Française

Today I was torn. Chinese New Year (my Chinese characters say monkey, not rabbit, which is this year), or 3rd Grade Strings concert?

I opted for my French postage stamp earrings. A perfect choice since my students argued at length about whether my earrings picture a violin, a viola, or a cello (the three instruments that they play), or whether the two halves represent two different instruments, since the colors of the two earrings don't match precisely.

Playing before their entire school, the children took such pride in what they have learned in a few short months. Students in higher grades remember their concert. Younger children look forward to theirs. Tradition. It's a big day--worthy of an earring tribute!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Two together

Today is the 85th birthday of my remarkable mother-in-law, Marian, who has taught me so much in the close to 30 years (well, 29 years and 3 months) since we met in the fall of 1981. With kindness, laughter, and patience, she has welcomed each new arrival into her growing family and made each of us feel that we are loved and valued.

Today I wore this lovely pair of silver earrings that Marian gave me a few years ago, along with the scarf she gave me this Christmas. Today is 2/2, which suits these 2 earrings with their 2 orbs each. This date has always seemed like a perfect one for Marian. Whoever she is with, family member, friend, or stranger, she seeks to share of herself and to create a common bond. Two, together, is where she finds her joy and where she has brought joy to many lives.