365 Days of Earrings

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Gift of Green Leaves

I awoke to a lush, green world on this last day of May. This Virginia creeper originated on the ground below our 10 foot high deck. The vine's tendril crept up the downspout some 18 feet to find its place in the sun. This basketless hanging basket dangles above the grill where John barbecues almost every night of the year--even in the sleet, even under the broiling sun.

I tried to take a photo of today's earrings amidst the Virginia creeper, but their green provided too much camouflage.

So I wandered down to the berry patch, looking for another photo op. There in my path was a bountiful crop of poison ivy.

Leaves of three, let it be.
Leaves of five, let it thrive.

Two vines, three-leaved poison ivy and five-leaved Virginia creeper.

I slipped past it and the stinging nettles, and hung my leafy green earrings among the green blueberries that dangle, ripening in the warm sunlight.
These, like many others in my collection, were a gift from a student years ago, a child  who bought them with her own money while on a vacation with her family. When she saw them, she thought of me. That warms my heart, as the sun warmed this last day of May.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Running through the finish line

This afternoon I sat down with my bead box to see what might inspire me. I found myself making legs, running legs.

Why, I wondered?

Ah, yes. Running through the finish line. That's the goal that our former headmaster used to encourage his faculty to reach... Run through the finish line. So here are my legs, with 8 more school days to run before the finish line. Short, action packed days.

But wait! After school is over next Thursday, I have another week of meetings the following week. Another five week days to keep running before I reach the real finish line.

That top runner, the one with the big feet, is facing the wrong way. I sure hope I'm the bottom runner. Or that I get myself turned around before the starting pistol sounds!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not all those who wander are lost

My family spent six months driving across the country and back during the summer that I turned 9. Whenever we were lost, my dad would say, "Lost? We're not lost! We're taking the scenic route!" And then we'd study the map.

One of our stops was the world's largest copper mine in Utah. For years afterwards, I planned to wear only copper jewelry.

About ten years later, when I read The Fellowship of the Ring, I fell in love with the line,

"All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost."

I've never been a fan of the glittery; I treasure much that seems dull on the surface. I tend to take a meandering path, the scenic route; I believe in finding my own way.

Yesterday at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival I spotted this wiggly copper ring. I own a copper bracelet that I sometimes wear when the arthritis in my fingers flares. Why not a copper ring?

Then I spotted these squiggle earrings. I love their irregular meander. Copper that wanders. To me, it's golden!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Festival Earrings

Memorial Day Weekend has arrived. For my family and the tiny Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Delaplane, VA, this weekend is about attracting visitors to Sky Meadows State Park, selling them strawberries, entertaining them with music and children's games, and doing whatever needs doing to help raise the funds that the church donates to local charities.

We scrounged about for our strawberry paraphernalia to wear today: caps, earrings, t-shirts.

My daughters have owned a variety of Delaplane Strawberry Festival t-shirts over the years: white ones, red ones, and tie-dye; bearing just a logo, and proclaiming slogans:
"The sun always shines on the Delaplane Strawberry Festival;" and "Don't let life pass you by! Delaplane Strawberry Festival."

My husband and son were always content to just wear the Strawberry Festival Volunteer vests and a ball cap.

I wear the earrings that my daughter Kathe made me 6 or 8 years ago. And sometimes the Mardi Gras strawberry necklace that I bought in New Orleans in March of 2010 when I went to visit

This morning Kathe and I wandered through the craft vendors. I chose some new earrings, as I do every year, and Kathe bought me this bowl, a clever storage container for a month's worth of earrings.

Tomorrow we will head back out again. What to wear?

Friday, May 27, 2011

New meets Old

I've enjoyed making earrings with these new hooks. The beads just slide on, no need to make hooks or twist wires.

New to me, anyway.

Tonight I shared my grandmother's amazing geneology book with my daughter Kathe who is here for a visit. She pored over it, commenting on names, dates, and places that our ancestors had lived. Psyche? Ethics? Eyre? 946!!! Switzerland! "I have Swiss blood on both sides!"

News to her. And such fun to watch her enthuse over each discovery.

I hung my earrings on the Seth Thomas clock that sits on my dresser. Throughout my childhood it stood on the living room mantle. One of my parents wound it every day. It worked for many years, with occasional trips to the repair shop.

This clock is from my dad's family. One very much just like it stood on the mantle of my mother's childhood home. To me, it is a treasure that connects me with times gone by, with people I know through the names and dates inscribed by my grandmother's tiny script in the geneology book.

Treasures, old and new.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lessons on the Track

No school today, so that our younger students could watch their older siblings, friends, and mentors compete in the annual Track Meet against other local independent schools. For my own children in years gone by, this day was hugely important. They worked hard in the weeks before the meet(only 3 weeks, but intense ones of running and jumping and throwing). They arrived early, cheered for friends, ran their races, jumped their jumps, and threw their throws, taking time in between to cheer for their friends. I spent the day doling out sunblock and water, encouragement and solace. They pretty much always came home with ribbons: blue and red, mostly, from distance running, mostly. 

Today I just showed up for the relays at the end of the day. This morning I discovered once again how much a person can accomplish on a day off in the middle of the week: DMV, oil change, banking, groceries, vacuuming, laundry. Oh, and then I polished off another batch of those narrative reports that I had to write before tomorrow. 

I dressed in aqua, and wore earrings made of glass beads decorated with tiny cowrie shells, dyed aqua. When I arrived at the Track Meet, the 9-10 girls were taking their marks. The lead-off runner was Cady, whose sister Carley gave me these earrings 4 years ago. The lead Cady set never wavered. Four races later, Carley strode onto the track to run the lead-off leg. She, too, set a pace that led to a winning race.

Carley probably has no memory of giving me those earrings; her mother told me that she insisted I would love them: "She loves wacky earrings! Especially ones made with stuff from nature! She wears them all the time!"

I was glad that I chose them today, and that I got to see Carley and Cady run and win. They are girls who know how to work hard, build their skills, and focus on their goals.

Physical Education, recess, and the arts are disappearing from our schools so that time can be devoted to reading, writing, and arithmetic. How will we motivate our children to learn those life skills?  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fair Trade Fused Glass

These earrings were made of fused glass by an artist named Juan Pablo Boroski who lives in Chile. I bought them at the Fair Trade shop in Harper's Ferry, WV. I wore them today because I knew I was in for a long, hot day. When my students commented on them, I responded, "Don't they look like candy?"

"Are we having candy today?"

"No, but wearing them makes me feel like I have extra energy. Don't they look icy?"

"We're going somewhere cold?"

"No, but wearing them makes me feel chill."

We did have popsicles this afternoon. It was a long hot day.

And along with my glass earrings, I wore my green reading glasses on a bead and stone chain that I made to match.

"Did you know your glasses match your earrings?"

"They're green and blue. They match everything she wears."

True. Thanks, Juan Pablo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today I took my class to Mount Vernon. We toured the house, the gardens, and the grounds. We walked to the tomb, to the wharf along the Potomac, and to the threshing barn. We visited the grist mill and the distillery.

The children carried crayons and their art journals so that they could draw some of the buildings, animals, and plants that they saw. They enjoyed the abundant honeysuckle, pausing to suck its nectar each time we passed a vine. For some, that will be the primary memory of this day.

I wore the earrings that I bought at a street market in eastern Germany five years ago. To me, they stand for structure: sturdy, combining metal, ceramic, and stone, one stacked upon the other.

I know that my image of George Washington is as much myth as truth. He may have been a shallow thinker, chosen to lead because of his height and wealth, as someone suggested to me today. But I choose to admire him for the sturdy foundation that he established as our first President, resisting military rule, autocracy--even the offer of a monarchy. I admire his creative industry in running his plantation, using innovative techniques to solve problems. I wonder at his generosity, hosting all who visited his home, hundreds of guests per year. I know little of military tactics and strategy, but I admire the way General Washington learned from his mistakes, treated his captives with dignity, and patiently used what resources he had to defeat a more powerful foe.

I think of him as a man grounded in the soil he farmed, seeking to create innovative structures that would stand the test of time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Seeing Blue

Today when I walked into the school lunchroom, a 4th grader named Julia spotted me and crowed, "Yay! Blue! At least someone else loves blue!"

All of the girls sitting near her were dressed in pink, with a smattering of lime green. Julia wore blue.

"You can always count on me, Julia," I smiled. "Even my earrings are blue!"

I made this pair with some of the "tiny tiles" left over from the stepping stone number path that we made on May 2nd, combining them with blue on white beads. 

Why did I wear them? To match my blue shirt. Because it's Monday, and we made the number path three weeks ago today. Because I love blue.

I can remember rambling conversations with my childhood friend Eva about whether the blue that I saw was the same as what she saw. What if my blue was her red? What if we just learned to name things the same, but they really looked different to each of us? Later I read about about wavelengths of light and cones on the retina, and decided that we must all see the same colors. But then I learned about color blindness. The color blind learn to name some colors by comparing shades of gray, but can't truly see them as other people do...

I thought a lot today about the filters which color each person's view of the same experience. We all suffer from color blindness when those filters cloud our vision.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Earrings to match

Tonight it was dark before I looked for earrings. My daughter Phoebe joined me in looking through my collection, admiring some that I've already worn, then focusing on the pairs that I have not yet worn this year.

"You should wear these," she said. "They match my ankle bracelet."

We looked a while longer. I considered some other choices. But then I settled on the aqua and white pair that match her ankle bracelet.

A good enough reason for today!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Calling all Angels

My mother-in-law believes in angels--protective spirits that roam the world. And a heavenly choir, one that I imagine her joining one day. She collects angel ornaments and figurines, and people have often given them to her as gifts.

A few years ago, I told my mother-in-law that I thought I'd met an angel. He was a state trooper. The moon was full when he spotted my son's car on a country highway. He stayed calm and kind and helpful, and I'll always believe he saved my son's life and kept my heart from breaking. 

Soon afterwards, my mother-in-law gave me these earrings. Tonight at 6 PM, when a fellow named Camping predicted that earthquakes would shake the Earth and the Rapture would occur, I took my angels out to our berry patch. I let them dangle among the blueberries, then among the blackberry flowers. Finally, I placed them among the sour cherries.

On a warm spring day like today, when blossoms and berries and greenery abound, I am astounded that anyone could hope for a cataclysmic Armageddon. 

I think he should wish for angels who will help those in need, reassuring them calmly and soothing them with kindness.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'll Fly Away

Birds in flight. Bluebirds? Another thrush? Tree swallows? I dunno. I just know that I've loved these earrings since I first saw them at Savannah's Oatland Island Sugar Cane Festival in 1989. They are among my favorites.

As I put them on this morning, I found myself humming this gospel song that I first heard sung by SCORE, my husband's children's music ensemble:

One bright morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)


Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

I hummed it to myself several times today, as my students painted cardboard boxes to make forges and hearths and glassblower's kilns for our Living Wax Museum. With less than 3 weeks of school to go--just a few more weary days--I'm looking forward to spending some time at my summer cabin--a land where joy shall never end.

Much as I love my work, and I am truly looking forward to many events over the next few weeks, I know that one bright morning soon,  I'll fly away!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ticking Time Bombs

When I bought these beads, I thought blue, ocean, mother earth. When I made the earrings, I thought simple, natural, Earth spinning on its axis.

I got dressed this morning in my default color scheme: blue shirt, green pants.

My stress level was high. I did not sleep well, worried about an unresolved problem with a student and his mother; worried about finishing my many projects before the end of the school year; worried about the 68 narrative reports I need to write over the next week; worried.

At 6 AM, in the pre-dawn light, when I stood in front of my earring ladies, this pair caught me eye: Time bombs. That's how I was feeling: as if ticking time bombs might explode any time.

Fortunately, the bombs were duds. The mom actually thanked me for handling a difficult situation well. We had a productive day in 3rd Grade.

In the full light of day, my earrings were clearly blue spheres, like our planet Earth, spinning through space. I look forward to a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Complicated

I felt when I left home that today would be a complicated day. So I chose complicated earrings... many dangling parts: spirals, a pendulum, a tear-drop frame. Today’s complications:
1.     remember to buy gas on the way to school (only one gas station on my route; gas light already on; 16 mile commute...)
2.    borrow some books about the colonial military from the school library
3.    organize student portfolios for the afternoon’s parent-teacher conferences
4.    talk with 2 students about the signed letters of apology they were bringing to school after having forged their mother’s initials on yesterday’s letters
5.    lead a class discussion about the importance of being safe after yesterday’s incident when a boy tossed his lunchbox and its zipper-pull cut a deep gash in a classmates head, causing extensive bleeding...
6.    teach math until 9:30
7.    teach 3 groups of social studies
8.    make sure we’ve submitted our entries for the school literary magazine
9.   noon to 5 PM: the last five parent-teacher conferences
10. order snack for the Lower School for next week
11.  find boxes to turn into forges for the wax museum
12. thunderstorms, some torrential, in the forecast
At 9:25, my co-teacher Claire poked her head into my math class. “There’s a man here who says he’s doing a program at 10 o’clock for the 3rd grade?”
Oops! May 18th. The Revolutionary War Soldier! “Yes! Ohmygosh, I forgot! He dresses up and explains what life was like for a soldier!”
Complicated. But I only needed to teach one group of Social Studies! 
I survived my complicated day. I photographed today's earrings next to my bedside bookshelf. It's complicated. I built it from a wooden crate. I used my grandmother's sewing box to make a shelf. She painted this simple wooden box herself. It held all that she needed to repair the clothing of her family: six children born over 18 years, and a husband.

I wish that I knew more about how my grandmother spent her days. I think of her era as a simpler age, but I imagine that some of her days were very complicated. And that she looked forward to those moments in the day when everyone was asleep; when no one needed her attention; when she could pick up a paintbrush, or a needle, or a good book.

Too bad she didn't have a blog! But I doubt she'd have had the time until those children were all grown and gone. Too many clothes to mend and socks to darn! Letters to write and checkbooks to balance... Simpler days? That's probably what she wondered about the life of her pioneer grandmother!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Treasures in my Empty Bowl

Sitting on top of my dresser is a beautiful blue bowl that I bought from the Empty Bowls tent at the National Cathedral's Flower Mart some 15 years ago. I empty my pockets into this bowl at the end of my teaching day. 

Buttons, marbles, erasers, dice, rubber bands, dominoes... stuff I stick in my pockets to empty my hands, or to tidy a table, or to remove a distraction during class... a tiny yellow ducky, a piece of soapstone, a piece of chalk, a bolt... stuff I meant to put away, but won't miss for a while...

Two sorts of things don't stay in my bowl: the notes I write to myself as reminders, and things that I confiscate but promise to return "if you remember to ask me before the end of the day." The notes I deal with, and toss. The treasures I put next to my keys to return to school next day.

On May 2nd, I reached into my pocket and found two blue rectangular tiles which I'd picked up off the ground during the construction of our concrete number path at school. I put them in my bowl. Over the weekend, I saw them and thought, "I wonder if those could be earrings?"

All day long, students and fellow teachers noticed them and asked, "Are those tiles? From our stepping stone path? Did you make them? How?"

I have a lot of leftover tiles. I think I can imagine a few more ways to make tile earrings...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Teaching the Joy of Making what You Need

During Social Studies today, I donned the long green skirt and collar that I made yesterday, and sat down amidst many baskets and basketry supplies. When my 3rd graders arrived, I explained that I was about to become a wax figure in a museum exhibit. I passed around a tray of nickels, quarters, and a dollar bill, and telling the students to each choose one. Then I froze.

When the first child dropped a quarter into the slot labeled 25 cents, I picked up the basket I was soaking and showed how to weave the weaver reed through the basket's spokes. When the next child paid 5 cents, I showed colored reed and told how it was dyed with berries. After everyone had a turn, I  answered some questions, then sent them off to begin preparing their own facts, stories, and speeches.

Years ago (15, maybe?) I took my first basket weaving class at the Sawmill Center for the Arts in Cook Forest, PA. My daughter Kathe went with me. We each made a heart-shaped basket; thet still hang on the wall at our cabin in Forest County, PA. I've made many more baskets over the years, some of which I shared with my students today. This Christmas basket (above)sits on a shelf in my dining room.

I made the basket that my earrings dangle from one summer while I sat at the picnic table under the white pine tree at our cabin. It's a gardening basket, used for holding vegetables or flowers as they're picked. I found these green beads at the bead shop on Saturday. They match the green of my skirt, and the green of the reed I'm weaving into my little basket. They look like nuts or seeds--I wish I knew for sure.
I wanted something natural to wear as I talked about weaving baskets from gathered materials--reed, and sapwood strips, and natural dyes. This year, my students and I have knapped arrowheads, carved soapstone, painted with sand, woven with wool and beads, made leather pouches, and tin lanterns, and assorted other projects that show how people have used natural materials to make useful and beautiful objects.

Now, in this final project of the year, they will each create their own display and costume, so that they can explain a colonial craft or trade at our Colonial Wax Museum. My fondest wish is that they get a sense that they can make what they need, using ingenuity and persistence, as our human ancestors have always done.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ready to Begin Anew

I had a crafty day. This morning I sewed a skirt and collar to wear during tomorrow's Social Studies class. Then I started weaving a simple basket to use as a prop for my "wax museum" colonial basketweaver, frozen in place until someone slides a coin into a slot to bring me to life.
  • 5 cents for a fact
  • 25 cents for a story
  • $1.00 for a speech
But more about that tomorrow.

Between laundering clothes, planning for tomorrow, and vacuuming stink bugs, I set out my earring-making kit and fiddled about. I made a pair for tomorrow, a pair for the future, and then a pair for today. 

Making things renews my soul. Last week was long and hard. I wondered whether this weekend could be long enough. But tonight, I feel myself looking forward to another school week.

Tomorrow should be fun.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Strawberry Season

I have owned a pair of strawberry earrings for 6 or 7 years. My daughter Kathe made them for me to wear to a local tradition: the Delaplane Strawberry Festival, hosted every Memorial Day weekend by Delaplane, VA's tiny Episcopal Church. I plan to wear them to the festival again this year, on May 28th.

Tonight my husband and I planned to attend the dinner for the festival's sponsors. So this morning I headed for a bead shop, hoping for strawberry beads to use in making another pair. Mission accomplished!

This festival is a remarkable accomplishment for the families of this tiny church. They work hard all year, volunteering their time and energy to raise funds to support charitable causes in the local community. The thousands of dollars they raise help homeless families, hospice patients, neglected animals... 

Tonight I wore my new strawberry earrings. We ate strawberry shortcake. It's strawberry season. For the people of the Delaplane Episcopal Church, this is the season of giving.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Owen Glass


Light bulbs?

Both were in my forecast for today. I left home in a drizzly mist for a morning of four more parent-teacher conferences (22 down, 5 to go), followed by an hour in which to prepare for the afternoon's Third Grade Variety Show: 27 acts in 90 minutes, performed under the lights in the school theater.  

How glad I am that I spent this rainy afternoon watching my students dance and tumble; play cello, violin, and piano; hula hoop and jumprope and pogo; act and rap and juggle; share PowerPoint and animation; and sing songs of many sorts. Under the glow of the lights, each child in turn strode onto the stage and shared a talent. The assembled parents, classmates, and teachers cheered. I love this day of courage and sharing.

Lightbulbs. Definitely lightbulbs. The raindrops played no role in my day.

These were gifts from my ex-sister-in-law. They are antique glass, from a company called Owen Glass. My brother's first name is Owen. Back when she gave me this pair, she smiled and said dreamily, "Owen Glass... Just as alluring as your brother." 

And still glowing, even on a drizzly day.

Thoughts for Thursday, May 12

As I prepare to write, the voice of my daughter Phoebe rises from downstairs, singing a song we both love, Ruth Moody’s One Voice, sung by the Wailin’ Jennys.

This is the sound of one voice
One spirit, one voice
The sound of one who makes a choice
This is the sound of one voice

This is the sound of voices two
The sound of me singing with you
Helping each other to make it through
This is the sound of voices two

This is the sound of voices three
Singing together in harmony
Surrendering to the mystery
This is the sound of voices three

This is the sound of all of us
Singing with love and the will to trust
Leave the rest behind it will turn to dust
This is the sound of all of us

This is the sound of one voice
One people, one voice
A song for every one of us
This is the sound of one voice
This is the sound of one voice

Today I sat in a chair all day for the second day in a row, describing the strengths and the challenges of my students to their parents and our head of school. I often wear these earrings to parent-teacher conferences, symbols of the important connection between teachers, students, and parents.

On the way to school, I listened to One Voice on CD, singing along. On the way home, I heard it again.

Not until I heard Phoebe singing did I think, “That’s it! That’s the goal of parent-teacher conferences!"  One Voice, singing with love and the will to trust.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chairs for Sitting

Today I sat in a chair all day long, talking about my students with their parents and our head of school: 45 minutes per child X 27 students = 20.25 hours of sitting in chairs. This was day one of two full days and two half days.

This has got to be the best pair of earrings ever made for a day of sitting in chairs.

My ex-sister-in-law bought these for me at Atlanta's High Museum gift shop some 20 years ago. A few years ago, while my brother and his wife were going through hard times, one of the seats fell off. I put the earrings and the seat away "in a safe place" and didn't see them for a long time. I discovered them again last summer and glued the seat to the chair. Time has passed, and I can wear them with joy again.

Tomorrow I will discuss another 9 students with their parents. Another year, I might don my chair earrings again. Not this year. 365 days, 365 pair.

"Can't you wear the same pair again, if you want?" someone asked.

"No!" I replied. "That would be against the rules."

"Who makes the rules?"

"I do."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cairns of Blue

I saw some earrings like these at a shop recently, and thought to myself, "I like those...not enough to buy them, but certainly enough to make them."

So today I wore these stacks of stones and blue seed beads-- cairns that maintained their balance as I jostled them through my day.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I love these earrings. They seem to cycle around themselves, symbols of constant change, even as they remain the same. When they were new, some 20 years ago, the illusion was even more striking. Many years of dangling, storage, and transport have taken their toll. They were a gift from my brother's ex-wife, among the earrings I neglected for a few years until my brother's happiness in his new marriage enabled me to wear them anew.
I wandered out to our berry patch to take a photo tonight. Most of the blueberry blossoms have dropped their petals and are beginning to form their fruits, first green, then pink, then blue. We don't have long to wait until we can breakfast on berries. 
Taking a few moments each day to pause and reflect, to think of cycles, change, and stability. This is a great gift that I have given myself this year.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sports Mom, Retired

This is the first spring in 16 years that I haven't spent many hours on the sidelines of a sports field, cheering for one of my children. And many hours driving to games and practices. And in the early years, many hours coaching those teams myself.

Just last spring, I wore these earrings frequently to Phoebe's lacrosse games. She made them for me long ago, using Shrinky Dinks. I exposed them to sun so often that they faded. I decided that this year, they were perfect for Mother's Day, a retired emblem for a stage of motherhood that I loved. I miss the comradery of the parent groups and the pride I felt in my children's athletic prowess. I miss the drives home from games, time to debrief and share.

In college, Phoebe is playing Ultimate Frisbee. Maybe someday I'll go see a game. Frisbee earrings? Sculpey, or Shrinky Dink?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ooh La La... Paris!

Back in December I dropped by my school's tiny silent auction and placed the minimum bid for these Eiffel Tower earrings.

Tonight I will wear them to the big event for which our gym has been transformed to glow like the streets of Paris. The entrances are street markets with flowers, wine, and bread. At the center stands the base of the Eiffel Tower, reaching as high as the eye can see--well, there is a ceiling, which limits how high the eye can see, but the effect is stunning.

Tonight I'll work behind the big board, ooh-la-la-ing as the bids soar for riding lessons with Olympic Gold Medal winners; a designer chicken coop and heritage chickens; a flight in a civilian Marine Corps Fighter.

Then a quick dinner, and I'm off to run my Live Auction PowerPoint and record the bids for trips to the US Opens (Golf or Tennis, anyone?) to the Caribbean (Abaco, Anguilla, or Nevis?), to Molokai, Tuscany, Gascony, or the Kalahari.

By the time I drive my trusty Subaru back up the windy drive to our mountain chalet, I'll be ready to crawl into bed. Nothing makes me happier than doing a good day's work. This auction provides me with many opportunities--faculty development (including my trip to New York for the Reading and Writing Project Reunion), classroom equipment like our new SMART boards and our Elmo projector, and special programs all over our campus.

And this summer, John and I will take a dream vacation to Paris for a bike and barge adventure. We'll stay for a few days in the same apartment that someone will bid on in the Live Auction tonight. In about two months, I'll stand at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I'm smiling.

Et maintenant, ma robe noire...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cool color

I'm fading fast. Long day. The morning was Grandparents and Special Friends Day at school. My 3rd graders performed 12 different puppet shows at 10 minute intervals, having written the scripts and drawn the scenery over the past two weeks since our trip to Williamsburg. Whew. Done.

These earrings were a gift from the parent of a student some years ago. The tarnishing silver seemed appropriate for the morning, and the color for my cool colored clothing, to match my desire for a calm, peaceful day.

I arrived home to discover my son enjoying the movie Zulu as he packed to leave for the summer. Together we watched our favorite scenes from this early Michael Caine film: Zulu warriors and Welsh soldiers singing to each other in challenge and tribute. An early mother's day gift, as my husband pointed out.

Now my daughter Phoebe has arrived safely home from Beach Week with a friend. Time for sleep.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Lovely Gift

This pair of earrings was a gift from the young woman from Calcutta who lived with us for a couple of years in Savannah while she studied art at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She made me these earrings at the bead shop where I helped her to get a job.

I am so fortunate to have known kind and generous friends such as Lovely. I hope that life has been kind and generous to her.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Set Goals, and Carry On

April 10th is the 100th day of a non-leap year. This date became fixed in my memory two years ago when I taught a sweet and squirrelly boy named Cam, born on April 10th; I told him that I would always think of him on the 100th day of the year, and I will.

On April 10th, I started thinking about the next milestone in my year of earrings: one third of the year: the 122.33rd day. May 2nd was the 122nd day of 2011; May 3 was the 123rd. Although I'd been thinking about this milestone for almost a month, my number path and stink bugs distracted me. Today is the 124th day of 2011.

So today I chose celebratory earrings, enameled metal with etched silver. I love his pair, a gift from a student years ago. They are hanging from a knitting needle that my mother used to knit an afghan during the year she was hospitalized for TB treatment. I keep this pair of knitting needles next to my bed, as reminders of the determination and resilience I learned from my mom.

Before Nike, my mom lived the motto, Just Do It. Born in 1923, she grew up during the Depression and came of age during World War II. Keep Calm and Carry On was her mode of existence. When I was 4, she entered the hospital with the expectation that her surgery and treatment would last a year. She never talked to me about that year. I wonder if she marked milestones like 100 days, 122.33 days, 182.5 days...

My dad took this photo of me with my brother in the fall of 1960, soon after she left home, to take to her in the hospital. During the year she was gone, we moved into her dreamhouse, the one she had found after two years of persistent house-hunting. We had a series of housekeepers. I left preschool and started kindergarten. My mom arrived home on Halloween, 1961.

The four of us posed for this Christmas card photo soon after her return. How I loved getting home from school every day to find her at home. With half of one lung and a third of the other removed, doctors insisted she never exert herself. No one would have guessed. She just carried on, living the active life of the housewife and mother she had dreamed of being. Just do it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maintaining My Balance

I had a lot to balance at school today:
  • keeping an eye on yesterday's number path,
  • trying to have a "regular" day,
  • organizing our mentoring project (3rd and 8th graders working together to "deadhead" hundreds of daffodils around the campus
  • setting up my laptop to Skype on the SMART board with a student who is visiting family in Holland
  • completing projects to be ready for Friday's Grandparents Day
I thought these earrings that I made last summer would inspire the right kind of balance--flexible, not rigid; moving, not static. When I got home, I wandered around in search of a good photo spot, and settled on the wisteria vine the climbs a post onto our deck.

As I snapped my photos, I was thinking about a joke I heard on the radio comparing wisteria with the Middleton sisters: attractive, sweet smelling, and climbing with determination. I don't envy either of them the balancing act they've undertaken.

But when I went inside, I discovered a whole new balance challenge. When John left this morning, he took our little shop vac with him, full of stink bugs for a colleague's middle school science project. I decided to set up soapy-water traps on our window sills and encourage the stink bugs to drop in.

In our bedroom, this is simple. The windows are easy to reach. And stink bugs are pretty cooperative: they avoid predators by flipping and dropping, often right into the waiting soapy water.

But our living room windows are high--maybe 16 feet from the floor. So this afternoon I found myself balancing high on a ladder (not too high... but high!), using a broom to sweep the bugs toward the bread pans containing soapy water. (They required some balancing, too: on the way up the ladder, on the window ledge, and moving the set-up from window to window three times before I gave up to cook some supper.)

I have a bucket full of stink bugs to dump in the morning.

Tomorrow when we get home, the windows will be full of stink bugs again.

Balance is key.