365 Days of Earrings

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Concert of Stars

I bought these earrings 16 years ago, I think, at a fund-raiser for my husband's music ensemble. They were specially designed to match the logo of the children's group, with turquoise beads and stars.

I wear these earrings at least once a year to a concert of The American Children of SCORE, made up of children ages 8-12. My husband arranges music for stringed instruments, children's voices, Orff instruments like xylophones and glockenspiels, and recorders. During the concert, he accompanies the group and leads them with nods and glances, building each song with layers and variations as they perform. The sound they produce is unique and glorious. I am usually brought to tears as I listen to them perform a folk song, spiritual, or gospel tune.

Today, my eyes were dry. I didn't have time to feel any emotion other than stress from my post in the sound and light booth, where I handled sound and lights as well as the video camera. Fortunately, my daughter Kathe drove up for the day and ran the PowerPoint during one part of the show, keeping me company in the booth.

I imagine that when I watch the video tape, my eyes will fill with tears when I hear The Lone Wild Bird. All of my own children sang this song in SCORE. I wish all souls could be touched by the simple beauty of this sound.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rings of hope

I wore rings today. Along with my ring earrings, I wore the necklace that I made to hold my reading glasses--it too sports a ring.

After getting up early to watch the British royal wedding along with two billion other people, I decided that today deserved rings.

I've done my best to ignore the hype about the wedding, changing channels when the reporting went on an on about dresses and carriages and reality/celebrity TV. I was surprised on Monday when I heard that today would be the day.

So why watch? Yesterday I heard a commentator say, "This is not a fairy tale. This is a marriage between two rather ordinary middle aged people."

During the ceremony, the Anglican priests talked a lot about the the ring as a symbol of the union of Christ and church, husband and wife.

I think I tuned in because I harbor a wish that this marriage of two ordinary people will last, and perhaps that it will set the tone of a new century of sensible people making wise decisions for the right reasons. Along with two billion people, I hope that this rather ordinary couple will thrive together.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fish, responding to a deluge

When I left home this morning, thunderstorms were raging and tornado warnings filled the airwaves. I drove past many overflowing streambanks and a fair amount of water streaming across the road.

I chose these fish earrings with the thought that perhaps today's rainfall would create conditions in which they'd thrive.

By noon the skies were clear. In my world, a soaking rain fell. But news of disastrous weather still fills the airwaves, with tales of horrendously damaging storms.

I remember the night some 10 years ago when I awoke to hear a train passing close to our house. I sat up, listened, and thought, "Silly me. I must be dreaming! There aren't any trains on this mountain!" I curled up and went back to sleep. In the morning, we found tall trees strewn across our front yard, and ripped up all along our mile-long drive. How lucky we were that that "train" passed by, missing our house with my sleeping family inside. 

So many people awoke today to find their lives swept away. Another day to count my blessings.

I'd never really noticed how forlorn these fish look until I posed them on this disaster photo--they'd always seemed to bright and cheerful, dangling their their hearts below as they swim. An illusion.

This is another pair that I bought from the amazing Fimo clay artist at the Sawmill Center for the Arts in Cook Forest, PA.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Luxuriant green

Lilac blossoms have burst into bloom from their weekend buds, peeking out from among the luxuriant greenery that surrounds them. I saw them last night, and knew that I wanted to wear these earrings today.

They were a gift long ago from my husband who admired the craftsmanship. The detailed veins and serrations appear on both sides, likes those on real leaves.

I once again waited until dusk to take my photo, losing the optimal afternoon light.

The camera flash exposes the beauty of the leaves, but dulls that of the blossoms.

In another month, sun will linger into the evening for these photo-shoots!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jabebo bluebirds

How I love this pair of earrings! Let me count the ways:

The two earrings share a shape; at first glance, they look identical. On closer inspection, the viewer says, "Oh! One is a bluebird, and the other is a tree trunk with a bluebird peeking out!"

I love bluebirds! For their beauty, for being harbingers of spring, for teaching humans that they can make a difference.

They are devoted parents who work as a team to care for their young.

They eat insects. (If they ate stinkbugs, I'd invite them in!)

They nest in cavities, but are willing to move into the boxes we humans build for them.

This pair of earrings reminds me of one of my favorite projects from my science teaching years: building bluebird boxes and monitoring the nest boxes on my school's nature trail. Teaching students how to sneak up on a box, tap on the side to encourage the parent to fly out, gently opening the flap and peeking in to see first the nest, then the eggs, then the nestlings, then the abandoned nest to clean out so that the pair can start again.

If you build a bluebird box, they will come! The comeback of the bluebird from the road to extinction demonstrates that humans can find simple solutions to complex problems if they just work hard enough.

I love these earrings because they were made by a family business, Jabebo, by an artist who shares his love and knowledge of science through his art. Check them out at http://www.jabebo.com/

Oh, yes. And I love them because I love blue.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Keys to Past Lives

I loved the skeleton keys and peek-through keyholes of my childhood. At my grandmother's house there were rings full of hundreds of iron, brass, and tarnished silver keys dangling in the office. Antique desks and bureau drawers all had keyholes--many of the keys had long ago been lost or discarded. Or perhaps they still hung in Grandmother's office.

My bedroom door had a keyhole, as did all of the bedrooms in our house. But my parents collected all of those keys so that no one could be trapped inside. I've long wondered whatever happened to all of those skeleton keys.

The first key I remember using to open a door looked a lot like this drawer's key. When we were very young, my brother and I used this "hidden key" when we wanted to unlock the back door of our house. Our friends searched, but they never found the nail from which this key dangled, hidden by my dad on the back of the board that held up a shelf.

When I saw these silver key earrings at a craft fair, I coveted them, just as I did my grandmother's rings of antique keys. I wore this pair today for our first day back at school after our class trip to Williamsburg, during discussions of how our trip helped us to unlock the lives of people in the past.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bunnies and Eggs for Easter

Just before Easter some 20 years ago in Savannah, one of my kindergartners and his mom approached me with eager smiles. "You have such fun earrings," she said. "When I saw these, I thought of you!"

They have been my Easter earrings ever since, worn to egg hunts and church services, and removed as soon as possible. Cute, but lacking in comfort.

I took one photo of the bunnies romping among the baby lettuce in a pot on our deck, and another of them nestled among dyed eggs in a basket. As big as my ears!

Eggs and bunnies, ancient symbols of spring and rebirth.    

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lilacs blooming in the dooryard

When I walked outdoors to take a photo of today's earrings, I spotted lilac buds just outside our door, and into my thoughts popped Walt Whitman:

WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love
"Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
 There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim."

Whitman wrote this poem soon after the April 14th death of Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps on April 23rd?

The lilacs in my dooryard are about to bloom again.

I chose these spinning beads today after reading that this is thought to be William Shakepeare's birthday. I wanted a whimsical pair in his honor. My daughter Kathe made this pair for me.

So, Lincoln and Whitman and Shakespeare. Quite a day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hopes for a Good Earth Friday

No school today: Good Friday. I chose these earrings because they contain wood, like the cross and metal, like the nails.

No school today. Too bad. Another Earth Day passes, another year with too little progress toward a cleaner, safer planet. I chose these earrings because they contain wood, a renewable resource, and metal, a recyclable one.

I chose these earrings because they were made by a friend who lives in India, half-way around the planet. Every now and then, I look at this blog's stats, and see that someone in India, or Iran, or Australia, or Turkey, or Ecuador--so many places I've never visited--has visited this blog.

Here's hoping that this ability of ordinary folks to communicate with others in distant lands will somehow lead to a safer, cleaner planet. Happy Good Earth Friday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nails to inspire a love of history

I wore my nail earrings today for my visit to the blacksmith shop in Colonial Williamsburg with my third grade class. Although the blacksmith is in a different building, these are the same earrings that I've worn to see him for the past three years.

Two of my students want to be blacksmiths in our upcoming wax museum; two will make candles; two will be apothecaries, curing ailments with horehound and even rock candy.

A couple of weeks ago the Obamas were supposed to visit Williamsburg but a crisis intervened. Libya? The budget? I don't recall. But I do remember a pair of news anchors on CNN joking that Sasha and Malia must be relieved: history was not a vacation. "Roller coasters are a vacation," quipped the woman. As they belittled Williamsburg, my heart sank.

For some of us, history is the best vacation. I loved visiting Williamsburg on a family vacation as a child. I enjoyed roller coasters, but visits to President Eisenhower's childhood home, to the Liberty Bell, and to the House of the Seven Gables were my favorite trips.

What could be more fun than to enlist in the colonial militia under the guidance of a drill sergeant? I hope that the Obamas reschedule their vacation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blue bolts of lightning

I think my group of 4 girls is settled for the night after a morning on the schoolbus, an afternoon of touring Colonial Williamsburg, dinner in a tavern, and a swim in the heavily chlorinated hotel pool.

We really enjoyed our visit at the wigmaker, learning about styles of wigs, the painstaking process of making them, and the products used to maintain them.

But my guess is that this group will say the highlight of their trip was climbing trees.

They spent half and hour in a tree after lunch, and then another after dinner climbing in a different grove of trees until a costumed interpreter came and asked that they not climb so high.

How happy I was that the thunderstorms forecast for today have yet to materialize, and we were able to wander the city and climb its trees.

I chose these earrings as talismans against the lightning, and I think they did their job! My blue lightning bolts chased away the electrical kind.
So here I sit in the hotel, trying to keep light and sound at a minimum so that my girls are ready to greet the dawn.

My daughter Kathe made these earrings for me. She made this trip with her 3rd grade class 16 years ago.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Something from nothing

Tonight I'm scrambling to finish the many tasks remaining before I load my class of 3rd graders on the school bus in the morning for our overnight trip to Williamsburg: notebooks, pencils, fanny-packs, name tags... oh, yes, packing an overnight bag. With socks and all of the other essentials.

I chose today's earrings in honor of my school's Trashy Fashion Show. While I didn't strut across the stage wearing duct tape, candy wrappers, or Doritos' bags, I did wear some paper clip earrings made by my daughter Kathe who can make something from any kind of nothing.

Now back to packing. Socks. Don't forget the socks.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Paper clip math

Like most teachers, I spend time on Sunday preparing for the coming week. As I read over the math lesson for today, I knew that I had to wear paper clip earrings this morning.

Paper clips are sold in boxes of 100. Todays math problems were about piles of boxes of paper clips, from which teachers took paper clips for certain projects.

So, to prepare for this lesson, I made these paper clip earrings yesterday. They helped keep the mood light, as we figured out how many paper clips were left from 11 boxes after 153 were used to make wire sculpture.

Imagine 153 paper clips dangling from my ears!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Frame of Fronds?

As my husband headed off to church this morning to "be Jesus" in the Palm Sunday service, I chose these earrings. This year, Easter and Passover fall in the same week, as they did the year that Jesus died.

I'm not sure why these earrings seem so appropriate to me. Although they don't represent any of the symbols I think of during these holidays-- palm fronds, a joyful parade, unleavened loaves, marked doorways, the parting of the Red Sea-- I felt they suited the day.

This is the third pair that my sister-in-law gave me a few years ago, having bought them to support a craftswoman she knew. At Easter and Passover, I always think of the sorrows and joys of motherhood. Teardrops blocking the doorway. Perhaps that's what I saw.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"What if...?"

"What if...?" So many projects begin with those words.

"What if I pull this spiral open, and put some beads on it?" asked my daughter K├Ąthe during one of those summer afternoons when we sat at the picnic table in the shade of the white pine tree.

I love earrings that change as the day goes by. When I put these on, I move the beads to the top of the spiral. Over time, as I move, the beads find their way back down. When I think of it, I take them off and reverse the spiral, sending them on their way again.

I posed them on the cast iron reindeer that stands atop our wood stove. April 16th, and I fired the stove again to take the chill out of the air during today's deluge.
"What if I leave them there, on the stove?" I wondered, "Will the beads move?"

Swaying in the convection currents, the beads wound their way down the spirals, toward the warmth.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A historic trail, and turtles

I loaded a bike on my bike rack this morning and headed for the Western Maryland Rail Trail which parallels the Potomac River, the C & O Canal and its towpath, a CSX Railraod, and I-70.

As I rode this 11 mile stretch of beautifully paved path, I was repeatedly struck by the tremendous human effort that has been exerted to transport people and goods along this route. Abandonned canal locks are still striking feats of engineering.

I rode from the Big Pool Trail Head to the small town of Hancock, Maryland, once a bustling center of commerce on this major artery of early America. Now, most of the storefronts on Main Street are empty. I'd hoped to spend an hour browsing and enjoying lunch in a fun eatery. I wandered through town past the vacant shops and For Rent signs, and ate at a picnic table next to Burger King.

On my return ride, I detoured onto the C & O Canal towpath--a far bumpier ride where I never saw another human being. But I saw a great blue heron, some green herons, a pileated woodpecker, a 4 foot long black snake, a groundhog, a pair of mallards, and hundreds of turtles, all sunning themselves on fallen trees. Oh, and a pair of white tailed deer and I surprised each other--they ran and I missed one more attempt to get a photo of turtles sunning themselves on a log.

Turtles must be very photo-shy, or they must all be in witness protection. No sooner did I spot a log covered with turtles, stop my bike, and raise my camera, than the log was empty. Not one turtle. What predatory creature does the turtle fear? Who moves so fast from bank to log?

This gang disappeared within moments of this photo. I rode with the lens cap off and the camera ready, and still missed quite a few attempts. 

I left home without earrings. When I returned, I chose this pair and posed them on my bike wheel. At least this pair stayed still long enough for me to snap a picture!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In the pink, and purple

I bought these purple beads at a yard sale one summer about 10 years ago. I've never used them. They're so shiny, and... purple. I made this pair of earrings over the weekend--a syncopated series.

This morning I put on this pink sweater in celebration of a gloriously sunny April day. My 3rd grade Writing Workshop was outdoors today, children scattered about amidst the daffodils and dandelions.

I rarely wear pink. My daughters persuaded me to buy this sweater a few years ago, to break out of my blue rut. So today I wore shiny purple beads and a bright pink sweater. If April can get out of its rainy rut, then I can break out, too. For a day, anyway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Turtles all the way down

A phrase popped into my mind this morning as I chose these earrings to match my pale turqoise shirt: Turtles all the way down.

As I recalled the anecdote, a philosopher gave a lengthy speech describing his theory about the origin of the universe. 

At the end of this presentation, an old lady rose in the audience to say, "I don't believe a word of it. The world rests on the back of a turtle."

"My dear woman, on what does the turtle rest?" the scientist responded, amused.

"It's turtles, all the way down," she stated.

Since I first heard this tale, long ago, I've loved the notion of the infinite regression, with one baseless idea resting upon another, carefully stacked in convincing fashion to make a believable theory. Believe what you want, but be willing to accept that the beliefs of others are equally valid. And understand that what can be believed is different from what can be tested and proved.

When I looked on the Internet, I discovered that the story may well be what my dad would have called "apochryphal." In some stories the philosopher is William James, in some Bertrand Russell, in some Thomas Huxley.

So I guess I cannot prove whether this encounter between the old woman and the philosopher ever took place. But I can still find joy in the notion of "Turtles, all the way down." My four pair are a pretty good start!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rorschach earrings

Most people have to look at these earrings for a while before they see an image. Take a look, then read on.

This morning one of my students arrived at school with a "talking thumbnail." Last night a pitching machine threw a softball that mashed her thumb against her bat. After Marina told the class about why her thumb can look like it's talking, another girl said, "Oh, is that what your earrings are today? A smushed thumbnail?"

"This is a tricky pair," I said. "People see lots of different things.

I've owned these earrings for over 20 years. I bought them at the Oatlands Sugar Cane Festival near Savannah Georgia, an annual event that I visited with my children each fall while we lived in Georgia. The first year, Kathe was 2 and Willem was an infant.

While I admired the many clay earrings on display, Kathe stared in fascination at the artist who made them. Braided into her long, greying hair were beads and feathers and... maybe not bones and snakeskin, but that's what I seem to recall. I bought a pair of earrings or a pin from her each year. This pair was on sale.

I've had to learn not to get suckered into great deals. I wish I'd spent the extra five dollars to get a pair that I would love, and that everyone would see and admire.

But this pair is almost like a puzzle. So many guesses. Two snakes? A crab? A long-eared, long-nosed creature? A monkey with small eyes? Eventually, someone usually says, "Two birds! Like flamingoes, with long beaks and curved necks!"

"No, it's snakes," someone else will reply.

"It's a crab! Look, those are its claws!"

But I don't think anyone has ever thought they looked like smushed thumbnails before.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Among the earrings that I made yesterday, is this pair. As I made them, I played with the balance of round and square, long and short, aqua and green.

Tonight as I photographed them, I struggled to balance dark and light. This flashless photo dulls my pale teal fleece, but shows the colors of the beads.

This second photo shows hue of my fleece, but the flash reflects off the surfaces of the beads, hiding their subtle tones.

Too late for natural light, I took them outside to the plum tree, and hung them among the blossoms. How they shine against the darkening sky, illuminated by the camera's flash.

None of these pictures shows them as I saw them, with my eyes, bathed in sunny morning light.

I worry that our society is failing to teach its citizens to look at the world through many lenses, from many angles, illuminating their thoughts with understanding of many viewpoints.

What do these earrings really look like? I wish you could see them with your own eyes, and tell me what you see.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

100 Days of Earrings, with thanks to the givers!

This weekend, I stayed home. I accomplished many tasks, including laundry, finishing our tax returns and filing financial records--lots of filing, lesson plans for biography writing, adding more ancestors to my on-line family tree, and trying out the chicken pot pie recipe from a lovely cookbook that I gave John for Valentine's Day, What to Cook & How to Cook It, by Jane Hornby. Yum.

And I made a few pair of earrings. As I finished each pair, I wore them for a while. But I took them upstairs and put them away for other, more public days.

In my top dresser drawer lie some never-been-worn pairs that I won't ever wear--gifts from people who must have thought, "Earrings, Amy likes unusual earrings. I hope she'll like these." 

Usually I wear gift earrings the next time I see the giver, bobbing my head in thanks. But some, I just put in the drawer.

Here is such a pair. Mismatched in size, color, and texture, one barely attached to its findings. I put them on briefly today, bobbed my head in the mirror and thanked the giver aloud, then put them back in the drawer.

I'm glad I kept them safe, to become my 100th pair of the year. Only 265 pair to go!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Moons of Saturn

This morning I was pondering the news that Titan doesn't have cryovolcanoes after all.

("Of course you were," I can imagine one of my colleagues muttering fondly.)

Fortunately, the same data from the Cassini spaceprobe shows that spurts of gaseous salty water--like Perrier!--do erupt on another of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. Cryovolcanoes!

So, of course, my thoughts turned to planetary earrings. None. As I rifled through a catch-all bowl in search of a paperclip, I came upon a pair of spirals. Ah. Now for some beads.

 Rings of Saturn earrings-- minus Saturn and many of her moons.

It's conceptual, not realistic.

Every time I take them off, the beads are in a new arrangement as the rings and beads find new balancing points.

Today is the 99th day. On to triple digits tomorrow!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Aqua agua

This morning I found myself surrounded by a circle of 8 and 9 year old girls admiring my earrings.

"I love that color!"

"Where did you get those earrings?"

"They look like little turquoise lights... And they match the colors in your outfit!"

"I love them, too," I replied. "I bought them at a store called April something-or-other. This morning, I was thinking about how April showers bring May flowers. I thought they looked like aqua drops of water."

"Aqua agua!" said Addie.

We talked about the many names for greenish-blue--or is it bluish green? Then, as a spelling activity, we played Ghost with color words. Aqua, turquoise, blue, green. Glorious words for a rainy April day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Buddha's Spring Dragons

Here is the segment of this morning's Writer's Almanac* that inspired my earring choice:

And it is Buddha's Birthday, also known as Hana Matsuri in Japan. The story goes that when the Buddha was born, dragons flew down from heaven and poured fragrant water over the land, like a sweet rain, and all the flowers on land and water bloomed simultaneously. So on this day, statues of a young Buddha are decorated with flowers and carried to temples in procession, and children in Japan take turns pouring sweet tea over the Buddha's head. It is a day of gratitude.

"How great is that?" I thought this morning at 6:15. So I chose these dragons in honor of Buddha's birthday.

This afternoon, I mentioned my dragons to a Buddhist friend who said, "I don't know that myth. And Buddha was born on the 5th full moon of the year." She proceeded to tell me a long Nepali tale about Buddha's mother and a dream about an elephant, lotus flowers, cesarian section, snakes that are depicted as dragons, and spring.

I just read that Buddha's birthday is April 8 or May 8 in China and Japan. Whew.

The cherry tree and the daffodils in my yard are definitely looking like sweet rain has fallen from the heavens, causing them to bloom simultaneously.

My dragons seemed to enjoy their frolic among the flowers. The beads shone blue in the sunlight!

*The Writer's Almanac provides daily inspiration. A poem, literary biographies, and fascinating snippets of information about topics that inspire writers. Check it out at http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/
I sent a donation. My mornings are richer because of The Writer's Almanac.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Color of My Eyes

Some mornings, I can't think of any part of my day that inspires me to choose a certain pair of earrings. Today was one of those days. I was already dressed in blue and lilac, with this sweater blending the two together. My eyes settled on this pair that I bought years ago at the Sawmill Center for the Arts in Cook Forest, PA. Today people told me that my eyes were very blue. Some days they are almost as blue as my dad's pale blue eyes, other days almost as green as my mother's. I still wonder how this can be. And those days when they are gray... how can that be?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Two Thirds

This morning I had fractions on my mind. Hmm. Fraction earrings. In third grade, it's fraction season.

When nothing that dangled on my earring trees seemed to shout, "Fractions!", I thought of pattern blocks, the math manipulative that we were going to use today. Yellow hexagons, red trapezoids, green triangles, blue rhombi... Yes!

A blue rhombus is one third of a yellow hexagon. A green triangle is one half of a blue rhombus. Fraction earrings!

And so beautiful. Stained glass, turquoise, tiny leaves reaching upwards towards the light. One of my Delaplane Strawberry Festival purchases, chosen after wandering among the thousands of earrings being sold. One year's special pair, perfect for today.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Frogs a-Leaping

During the years that I taught weekly units about each of the classes of vertebrates, I acquired some great amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal earrings. Often I could use them somehow as extra credit on a quiz or a lab practical. Frogs have long legs for jumping. Toads don't leap. They have shorter legs.

Today the weather forecast spring, with winter to make another comeback tomorrow. One pair of my third graders chose frogs for their poem with two voices. I knew that peepers would be peeping when I returned home this evening. So I chose these leaping frogs today. Leaping into Spring.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sighting of a Flight

This morning I looked out the window and saw a great blue heron flying past. I don't often see them on our mountain--I hope we have a pair nesting near our pond.

I love herons for their grace in flight, their long-legged elegance, their patient diligence, their ability to blend in with the branches along the shore. I admire them as the most purposeful of birds.

I've owned this pair for a long time. I'll probably wish I could wear them this summer at the river where I greet herons as I paddle. I may need some more herons. (That's a hint!)