365 Days of Earrings

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Butterflies, from Paris to Paris

Our Butterfly Bush earned its name today. It was bustling with Tiger Swallowtails, Cabbage Whites, Clouded Sulphurs, Greater Fritillaries... They didn't stay still long enough for me to get a really good photograph. How glorious to see the frenzy of feeding, the bursts of color in motion, the dancing of mating pairs. Paris, Virginia in mid-summer when the humidity is low and the sky is crisp and blue... This is the sort of day that makes me love my home.

My butterfly earrings were far more cooperative than the living butterflies. When I hung them on an inflorescence, they just dangled there. My daughter Kathe made this pair of Monarch Butterflies for me some years back when I taught about them very year.

Tonight, my husband John and I will take flight for Paris, France. From Paris to Paris.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Van Gogh's Chairs?

I made these earrings last January when I was snowed in. I spent the day sitting in my cosy green armchair beside the woodstove, and thought it might be fun to wear Van Gogh chair earrings one day. I'm home for a day, I've been sitting in that same chair organizing my carry-on bag in preparation for tomorrow's trip to France. Van Gogh prepared for a trip to France, once, too! (Desperately seeking a rationale...)

So I'm wearing Van Gogh's chairs, traced on Shrinky Dink plastic without thinking about how they would end up as mirror images of the originals. Or about how dark Gauguin's chair would be. Ah, well. I like them better in this photograph than I do on my ears--they're less murky, and don't require anyone to peer in puzzlement at my ears.

Vincent painted them in Arles in December. I won't be in Arles, and it's almost July. Ah, well. It won't be long before I'm sitting in a chair in France. That'll have to do.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frog Fears

I wore my contemplative frog earrings today when I went down to the river to look for the tiny frogs that are emerging from the water, having just completed their metamorphosis.

They hop the treacherous route across the pebbly beach, up the bank, across the road, through our yard, and up the hill into the forest. Their journey is awe-inspiring.

Those who have survived the predators that feed on them in the water must escape the birds, snakes, cars, bikes, and small mammals along the terrestrial route. When my son was small, they also might have to survive the grip of his two-year-old fingers, rolling them as gently as he knew how, but not gently enough for many.

This week I met a woman who is afraid of frogs, having had a scary encounter with many frogs, alone in the dark, when she was a small child. She has 3 sons, ages 5, 7, and 9 who discovered the wonder of our tiny frogs today, and shared them with their mom. They leave tomorrow, 3 boys who have now caught frogs for the first time, and a mother who is a little less fearful thanks to her sons.

Here on our river, frogs and toads abound, which we take as a sign that our river is healthy. My fear is that one day the water will be toxic to amphibians who must breathe through their moist skin. I worry when the tadpole population is low, as it is this year. I hope that mine is a baseless fear.

I bought these earrings at the Sawmill Center for the Arts quite a few years ago. The tag says Wood Thrush Studio, Hand-crafted Polymer Clay Beads. I googled that name, hoping to find the artist I watched some 15 years ago as she created her amazing beads, so that I could provide a link to her website. But I discovered that another jewelry artist uses the name Wood Thrush Studio. Links to the polymer artist lead nowhere. I hope that I find her again. I would love to watch her at work.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Woolly Buggers

Our neighbor Bob is a man of many talents and many passions. He is a tender-hearted counselor, a Bible scholar, a poet, a furniture craftsman, a creative handyman, and an entymologist. And that's just a short list. Among the many pursuits that fill his life, fly-fishing provided the greatest lure as he looked forward to retirement. And fly-tying fills many of his winter hours.

I've been eyeing this batch of flies that Bob gave us, thinking about turning a couple into a pair of earrings. But last night, at an early birthday party, he and his wife Ardyce presented me with three pair of specially tied flies attached to earhooks instead of fishhooks.

Today I wore the tamest pair, the subtle green ones. As I walked through the door of a shop today, a gentleman eyed my ears and smiled, "I like your earrings. Did you tie them yourself?"

"No, a friend made them for me."

"He must be a fly fisherman," the man replied.

"He certainly is," I answered, reaching for one of the woolly buggers dangling from my ears. "Aren't they lovely?"

Bob is a fly fisherman. And a true friend. He sees a need and seeks to meet it. Such a great gift.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the beauty of the lily

The tiger lilies bloomed today when the sun shone for the first time in days. Both the blossoms and I turned our faces toward the sun.

I spent a perfect summer day reading, biking 12 miles, collecting broken glass and tiny stones along the river, accomplishing some simple household tasks, making some earrings, kayaking along my familiar route upstream and down, and then enjoying dinner with friends. Soon, I'll read myself to sleep, staying up late, or maybe not--that is one joy of summer.

I love these blue stone beads, no two alike, but each reminding me of the classic image of the Earth from space. When I hung them inside this lily, suddenly they resembled two eyes looking up at me. Sublime and ridiculous, all in one.  

So many people live their lives without days like this, full of simple joys enjoyed one by one, peacefully. How fortunate I feel.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Gospel of the Unseen

We left the river today to attend the funeral service for our friend Ralph. Ralph loved his hometown of Trafford, PA, but he loved this river more. When he retired, he and his wife Ella moved here.

Ralph used to say, "I'm working on a project. Ya know, if I finish all my projects, I'll die." He built his house and kept finishing parts of it with meticulous craftsmanship. Summer before last he made a beautiful cherry ceiling for his porch. He cut down his own red pines so that he could build his garage/workshop using their logs. He carved delicate songbirds all winter long, and he taught himself to carve bears and eagles and herons with a chainsaw. When his mind began to wander, his favorite tools were no longer safe. Last summer, it became clear that he had no more projects.

At his funeral, our friend and neighbor Bob gave the sermon, The Gospel of the Unseen. He spoke of how we all know stories about Ralph that contain truths that others would never know. I thought of the time Ralph teased me that he'd never seen a power boat surging upstream past his house until he saw me in my kayak. I thought of the hours we spent one summer--the first summer we saw an eagle on the river--riding our bikes along the river, eagle spotting and then chasing as it flew up or downstream.

When we got home, I took my kayak down to the river for a solitary paddle. As I climbed in, a cacaphony of crows erupted just upstream. I looked up as an eagle flew by. I followed its path downstream until I heard another flurry of chatter among agitated animals. As I sought the flash of white, the eagle emerged from the water and flapped up into a nearby tree. I held my boat steady against the current and chatted with the eagle for a while, asking about wet head feathers, the annoyance of crows, the glory of flight. I told it that Ralph had finished his last project. Then I paddled off, upstream, churning up the water as I passed Ralph's house.

I returned home to get my camera so that I could photograph my earrings along the river bank. They were an early birthday gift from my mother-in-law--abalone shell. I wore them today because they remind me of water in motion. Ralph and I shared a love of this river. His first career was in the navy, and he voyaged across the world's oceans. I'm guessing he encountered abalone shells in his travels. All that he was to others will remain unknown to me. But I know that I treasured his friendship and that we found joy together in taking time to pause and admire a world that often goes unseen. I mentioned that to the eagle.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pinery Traditions

This is our 24th summer at our cabin. Over the years, we've created many traditions. Our two daughters and one son-in-law joined us for five days this week, days filled with traditional breakfasts of blueberry pancakes and huevos rancheros, bike and kayak trips, family cookouts culminating in s'mores, trips to Grandma and Grandpa's house and to some local craft shops, games of yahtzee, badminton, croquet, and cornhole. We enjoyed some sunny days, some drizzly rains, and some drenching downpours. Even the skies seemed to be trying to cram all of summer into just 5 days.

My daughter Kathe and I have been looking forward all year to making jewelry together for a few hours. She leaves tomorrow. So this afternoon we opened up the craft box and strung beads into necklaces and earrings. We started indoors as the rain came down, and then moved outside to the picnic table to sit under the white pine tree. Tradition.

Nearby is my husband John's current project, an Earth Oven in which to bake bread and pizza. He built the foundation of river stones and sand, then a round of bricks surrounding the insulating layer of glass bottles, sawdust, and earth. New traditions of baking await!

Inspired by the raindrops dangling from the trees, I made this necklace and then matching earrings. I look forward to wearing the earrings that Kathe made for me under the white pine tree. Tradition.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Of kayaks and river glass

Ah, summer. We dragged our kayaks down to the river this morning so that we could float the 6 miles downstream to the Cook Forest Cafe for Hershey's Denali Moose Tracks ice cream. This fleet of boats held my daughter Phoebe, my daughter Kathe and her husband Jim, and me. My husband John graciously agreed to drive down and meet us in 2 hours to transport us back upstream.

I try to paddle every day at The Pinery. Often I paddle alone, meandering along the bank, inhaling the air cooled by the hillside springs, greeting the kingfishers and the green herons, admiring the twisted tree roots and adventuresome wildflowers. One day soon.

Today we floated together, sharing stories and memories and commenting on the changes in the banks caused by the ice flows of winter and the floods of spring. Floating and chatting are among the great joys of summer.

  I wore these sea glass earrings which I made many years ago. I often collect shards of broken glass from along our river bank, the remains of bottles tossed by careless canoers. Always before, my eyes have sought out sharp edges that might slice through skin. I've never looked for smoothed river glass to use in making earrings. One day soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


These earrings elicited the same response from most of those who noticed them dangling from my ears today: I never would have guessed you'd buy those earrings. They look good, but they're big for you.

I agree. But they felt right for today.

One of the joys of my summer is a recent discovery--the Nasmaste Center for Well Being in Brookville, PA. My neighbor Ardyce, upon hearing that I practice yoga at home in VA, offered me a ride early last summer to a morning class. I had no idea of the treat that was in store.

The calm green room, the radiating arrangement of yoga mats, the melodious voice of Melora, the steady demanding pace of the asanas leading to relaxation and a gentle massage. Today my daughter Kathe joined us. Together we reveled in the stretching of body and mind, the breathing and moving in harmony.

At the end of class, I bought this pair of earrings, made and sold by Melora's sister, Mary Ellen who was cooking today's healthy lunch. What a gift they give to the people of their community!

We returned home to prepare for company--7 members of my husband's family joining us for a picnic, from my 90 year old father-in-law to my almost 3 month old neice. Hazel, who will turn 2 in a couple of weeks, found her own inner peace down by the river, throwing stones and watching the ripples circle outward. Namaste.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Missing Ralph

Early this morning I stood below the great blue heron weather vane that adorns the storage shed we call our barn. I was ready for a paddle. My daughter Kathe had told me last night not to go without her. But I whispered and then spoke her name with no response. As I turned away I heard, "Wait, Mom, I'm coming with you."

"What earrings are you wearing today?"

"None, yet. But I'm going to wear the Jabebo herons. I'd love to see a heron today."

We dragged our kayaks across the yard, tandem carried them across the road, and slid them down the bank toward the river. Together, we paddled upstream toward the boulder-strewn riffle we call The Rapids. There above the riffle we spied a majestic bald eagle high in a pine.

"Oh, well," I thought. "No heron today." Eagles seem to supplant herons along the bank of the Clarion River. We are thrilled that eagles have made their return to this habitat; but today, I was hoping for a heron. Tall, silent, intent, blending in among the stones, the foliage, and the water. I feel kinship with the heron.

When we returned home, my good friend Ardyce heard me filling a drink cooler from her hose (still no running water at my house.) She came out to tell me that our neighbor Ralph died this morning at 4:30 AM after seige with dementia.

Ralph knew this river during the 1940's when it was black with industrial waste. He spent the summers of his childhood here at his uncle's truck farm. There were no eagles here then. As they made their return, Ralph watched them build their nests, tend their eggs, and feed their nestlings. Binoculars dangled from his neck as he rode his aged bicycle on eagle scouting expeditions up and down the river. Ralph was the eagle's ambassador, and our true friend.

As we sit on our deck, or around our campfire, we expect Ralph to wobble across the lawn on his vintage bike, repaired with love hundreds of times over the years. Ralph was our resident historian and folklorist; he worked for the Post Office for many years; for this stretch of river, he carried the news.

How we will miss Ralph. We've been missing him for more than a year, since illness began to sap his spirit. But he is part of the fabric of this place. I will never see a Bald Eagle without thinking of him.

One day soon I'll see a Great Blue Heron. A silent sentinel watching over Ralph's river.

June 20, 2011: No water, no internet

This morning I tied two kayaks to the roof of my Forester and strapped four bikes onto the rack on the back My daughter Phoebe rode shotgun as we headed for our cabin near Cook Forest, PA, taking turns to choose CD’s for singing along. We stopped in Bellefonte, PA to visit Kevin Abbott, proprietor of Jabebo Earrings, who makes earrings in his attic studio. (More about that tomorrow, when I wear a pair!) Then we drove on toward the forest, where my daughter Kathe and her husband Jim were waiting for us, playing in the river with their two dogs.
For the occasion, I wore the moose and calf earrings that Kathe gave me for my birthday eleven years ago when we visited Yellowstone National Park. (She was almost 14; I was 44.)
We are together at our cabin which we call The Pinery. My husband John designed and built this cabin using pine and hemlock when I was pregnant with Phoebe twenty years ago.  He will join us tomorrow, we hope.
 The siding of The Pinery,  inside and out, is made of long rough-cut hemlock boards from an Amish sawmill. John measured and cut each one. He built every square foot of this cabin with his own hands. He knows every knot in every board.

So do our winter residents, the rodents (mice, chipmunks, and red squirrels) who are gracious enough to move out when we return each summer. We will not be returning their security deposit. We all spent way too long cleaning up the damage they wrought this winter. I didn't get the water running. And I didn't manage this post.

P.S.: Happy 56th Birthday to my brother Rick. Love you, bro!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Now wait just a clock tick!

For Father's Day, we went to the Kennedy Center to see the musical Wicked. Last year, at our daughter Phoebe's high school graduation, my husband John's high School chorus performed Defying Gravity and For Good, both from this musical. None of us had seen it before, though we'd all heard about it for close to ten years. It was an amazing spectacle, and a wonderful way to spend Father's Day afternoon.

I wore this pair of silver earrings for the occasion. Cut-outs of stars, crescent moons, and shooting stars decorate them. I bought them many years ago, when I taught a 7th grade astronomy unit. They seemed to suit witches and wizards and magic, too.

To photograph them, I hung them on the hands of the clock that stands amidst my earring holders. It stood on the mantle near my dad's rocking chair throughout my childhood. The backdrop of Wicked reminded me of this clock face. But sadly, you could wait an eternity for it to make another clock tick. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Checking out for the summer

I spent today making lists of things to do, then checking them off. Sometimes writing down things I had just done so that I could check them off.

I did a mountain of laundry and packed my clothes for the next month--10 days at our cabin on the Clarion River in northwestern PA, then back to Dulles Airport to catch a plane to Paris for two weeks in France. 

I also packed a month's worth of earrings, a more daunting job than ever before as I head off for the summer. But I also am taking my craft box to our cabin, where I look forward to some jewelry making with my daughters during our week of vacation together.

Today's earrings rest on the canvas bag, purchased in Amsterdam during our previous bike and barge expedition three years ago, in which I packed my biking gear. My daughter Kathe made this pair for me, one of the many pair of simple earrings in shades of blue and green that she has given to me over the years. One of the joys of summer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Dad's Birthday

My dad was born on June 17, 1918. Today he would be 93. The photo on the left, of my brother Rick, my dad, Owen Richards, and me was taken in 1960 to show to my mother who was hospitalized for a year with TB. Several relatives and friends offered that my brother and I could live with them for that year. But my dad refused. He wanted to parent his own children. During that year, he suffered from painful arthitis. His hands were so swollen that he could not tie shoes. Fortunately, my mother had taught 5 year old Rick to tie before she left for the hospital, so every morning he tied three pair of shoes: his own, mine, and our dad's.

My dad was a constant presence in my childhood; he worked at home in an office in our basement. He was always eager to help me with homework, to drive me to the library, or to discuss the news of the day. When I was 13, my mother began her battle with cancer; she died when I was 16. My dad did his best to parent teenagers alone.

I loved listening to my dad's stories of the years before he married my mom, when he was that man in a sarong on the beach of Bhuket Island, Thailand. When he rode a motorcycle all over Asia, prospecting for minerals and working in mining operations. When he visited Ankor Wat in Cambodia, to him the most beautiful building in all the world. When he had only a cupful of water in which to bathe, and knew just how to use it to "freshen up."

"Do you miss adventure?" I'd ask. "Don't you want to travel to countries you've never seen?"

"I got to travel when I was a footloose youth. Now I have new adventures right here at home. And we travel together."

My dad studied geology at Yale in the late 1930's. He loved rocks, and minerals, and concrete. Today, as I thought about my day: a morning of meetings, a hike in the afternoon with my friend Janie to celebrate summer vacation, and June 17: my dad's birthday, I chose these earrings made in Kenya at a women's cooperative that Janie visited.

He would have loved to tell me about the stones. I can imagine him pulling out his hand lens to study them. I can almost hear his voice.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Flowers for Bloomsday

Today is James Joyce's Bloomsday, as I saw when I read the Writer's Almanac this morning. I read Ulysses when I was a freshman in college, in a first semester survey of great books that included Homer's Odyssey, Virgil's  Aeneid, Dante's Inferno, and Cervantes' Don Quixote. I read them all, somehow, wrote lengthy papers and even succeeded on exams. But that is not to imply that I remember much of what I read.

I put on flower earrings this morning in honor of Bloomsday, having been reminded by the Writer's Almanac that the Bloom is the surname of Harold and Molly Bloom, but not at all sure that flowers play any part in the novel.

When I got home tonight, I searched through our library, and found this copy of Ulysses. I scanned the book for a while in search of flowers, and failed to find any mention. 

So I googled "flowers" + James Joyce's Ulysses and found several references. The Lotus Eaters (of course!), Bloom's pseudomyn Henry Flowers, and Molly Bloom's soliloquy which includes many flower references, including, "I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses."

I began to remember the fun of reading those books and writing those papers. How much faster it is today to research flower references than it was in 1974!
Happy Bloomsday!

This jewelry contains dried flowers preserved in plastic. I love their delicate beauty. I bought them one year at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Speechless, and Priceless

When I got home tonight, after a full day of end-of-the-year faculty meetings and dinner with some colleagues, my sister-in-law had already arrived at my house. Her computer rested on my ottoman, along with her iPod and headphones. What a joy it was to chat with her for a while, about schools and teaching, our family and the summer ahead.

Beth was offered and has accepted a retirement package, after teaching music in a public school system in Pennsylvania for over 20 years. She, like her brother, my husband, is a brilliant musician and a gifted teacher. If that were why her school system is terminating her position, I might understand. No one could replace Beth. But budget cuts... taking music instruction out of the lives of children is short-sighted and demonstrates such ignorance that I am left speechless.

Beth drove the 250 miles from her home so that she could drive another 250+ miles with my husband to see the play, The Lost Colony, that our son is performing in this summer in North Carolina.

My son's babysitter gave me these earrings when Will was three. This year he will turn 23. In those 20 years, my sister-in-law Beth taught music to hundreds of children. With her they have explored the joy of singing and playing instruments, the challenge of performing, and the comradery of working together to create beauty. What she has brought to their lives is priceless.

Speechless. I am. And so glad that she is here tonight, and that my son will see her tomorrow. Priceless.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Proud to be an American

When I was 10, my bedroom was adorned with American flags. Whenever we visited monuments or historic sites, I would buy a flag souvenir. I wore a lot of red, white, and blue.

My dad used to tell me that being an American citizen was the greatest birthright anyone could give a child. Our liberties set us apart from every other country in the world. Basic American Documents is one of the reference books that sat next to his rocking chair. He pulled it down to discuss what it meant to "take the fifth" or to research the language in Roosevelt's Four Freedoms Speech. He taught me to treasure my freedom as an American. But he also insisted that with freedom comes many responsibilities.  

My dad was a member of the Marine Corps in World War II. After the war, he went to China and worked for the United Nations Relief Agency from 1946 to 1949. He saw poverty, corruption, and the devastation of civil war.

He left China to work and travel throughout southeast Asia where he saw poverty, corruption, and political intrigue.

In the early 1960's, my dad began to write letters to senators, congressmen, and other public officials, arguing against American support for the corrupt government in Vietnam.

He kept writing those letters for more than 10 years. When people called him a liberal, he would say, "Why, I am conservative!" With a twinkle in his eye, he would share a bit of Franklin Roosevelt:

 "Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change--in a perpetual, peaceful revolution--a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions."

"So you see, I am a conservative. I like to preserve the American way."

I enjoyed wearing my American flag earrings today, for Flag Day, the day in 1777 when the stars and stripes were adopted as the official American flag.

Like my dad, I am proud to be an American. And proud that Americans seek to ensure that all people have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flip-floppin' toward the river

Flip-flops. To my generation, they're pool shoes. When I was little, they conveyed this message: "I'd be barefoot, if I weren't protecting the soles of my feet."

In recent years, flip-flops have become standard footwear, worn to work or to church. They may cost as much as other shoes. Designers design them. People are as likely to wear Crocs, or Keens, or many other types of footwear to the pool or the beach. Flip-flops are not pool shoes any longer.

When I was a child, my mother bought me a new pair of flip-flops at the beginning of each summer. She threw them away at the end of the summer. Today, flip-flops are worn all year round. With or without toe socks.

I made this pair out of Sculpey, and wore it today to my first day of end-of-the-school year faculty meetings. I wore them because I'm ready to be sitting barefoot, with my feet dangling in the water. Soon I will. The river is calling.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Puzzle of the Cheshire Cat

I was thinking of making some earrings out of Sculpey today, so I googled, "Sculpey earrings" for inspiration. I clicked on an Etsy site that offered a long list of Sculpey earrings. A list, with no pictures. Lousy marketing... But then a pair of jigsaw puzzle-piece earrings caught my eye. Aha!

I headed down to the basement, storage zone for games and puzzles. I eyed the puzzles, looking for stray pieces. I opened a few boxes, hoping to see pieces that inspired me. But of course I could not take pieces from a complete puzzle. It's a character trait, perhaps a flaw. I could never ruin a puzzle.

So I wandered back upstairs and found a tiny cheshire cat puzzle in a tiny box. And it was missing a piece. Perfect! I love the Cheshire Cat!

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.

"Which road do I take?" she asked.

"Where do you want to go?" was his response.

"I don't know," Alice answered.

"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter.”

“I’ve often seen a cat without a grin, but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”

The grin without a cat is on one earrings, and the cat without a grin is on the other. Perfect!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bears amidst the Blueberries

I wandered out to our berry garden and discovered that blueberry season has begun! My son Will--who browses through this patch like a hungry bear when he is home--is away this summer, and the berries ripened in the last few days without anyone noticing. What a bounty!

I made this pair of earrings yesterday as I sat watching Matt Damon living out a liberal's fantasy in Iraq in The Green Zone. I wore them today because they matched my aqua shirt and teal capris. As I photographed them among the blueberries, I was sorry that I hadn't worn the pair that reminds me most of blueberries, as I'd planned to do to pick the first berries. It wasn't until I wrote the previous paragraph that I realized how appropriate these totem bear earrings are for today.

In many cultures, bears symbolize awakening from the quiet contemplation of hibernation to seek sustenance and opportunity in the warmth of spring. My son, this garden's resident bear, is not here to nibble his way from bush to bush, blue-tongued and happy. He is off experiencing new challenges. I'm glad I wore totem bears to take his place.

On Thursday, my husband John will drive down to see Willem in North Carolina. We'll have eaten this bowl of berries by then. But John already promised Will some blueberries from home. Blueberries were a staple of our family's summer diet long before antioxidant research showed how beneficial they are to our hearts and minds. For us, they are food for the soul.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dancing, even without power

Last night as I finished my post, thunder rumbled. Soon afterwards, hail pelted our house, a river poured down our driveway, and the power went out.

As darkness fell, my husband John started the generator that we bought several years ago. Our power fails frequently, and sometimes stays off for days at a time. It's a consequence of living on our own little mountain in the woods.

After dropping my car off at the Waterloo Service Center this morning (air conditioning on the fritz, among other problems), I spent my first day of summer in our basement, making earrings and watching action movies. I made this pair, and posed them on the arm of this dancing woman. She may look like she's climbing the walls. But she's not. We were just where we needed to be today.

The power is still out. We're going to pick up my car and head for the movies to see Midnight in Paris. Ah, summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Popsicle Summer

The 2010-2011 school year ended for me today. I wore my popsicle earrings for our final half day, and for the class party at a roller rink. To me, popsicles say summer. 

The thermometer climbed to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, in the shade. I took my popsicle earrings out on our deck to photograph them with our thermometer. As soon as I moved if off the window and into the sun, the temperature began to rise toward 100. I was really wishing for a popsicle on this the hottest day of the year so far.

My daughter Phoebe bought me this pair of earrings at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival a few years ago. I've worn them on the last day of school ever since. They attract a lot of smiles. And comments about something red dripping onto my neck. But if they were to melt, I could replace them. Sculpey, a toothpick, and wire are all I'd need to make a replacement pair.

I felt a bit like this dog today, stuck in the heat with no popsicle within reach on this very hot last day. But I am blessed to work in an air-conditioned school, drive an air-conditioned car, and have an air-conditioned bedroom to come home to.

I think back to my childhood, when we had no air-conditioning at all. Maybe that's why popsicles say summer to me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wishing and hoping

Last summer, I wandered through the shops on the main street in Franklin, PA, a town that remained vibrant for many years, even while manufacturing jobs disappeared from this northwest corner of the state. But many storefronts now stand vacant. Those that remain are dollar stores, thrift stores, antique shops, and a few crafters coops.

I bought this pair of cranes at one of the craft markets. As I recall, they cost $7.00. Handmade cranes hovering above handmade dipyramids (aka triangular bipyramids, or hexahedrons). Whatever it was that I paid, it was not enough to pay for the materials, to pay the craftsperson a living wage, to pay the rent and utilities on the shop. I worry that this shop will be gone when I return this year, along with the jewelery and stationery and book and shoe and clothing and housewares shops I saw just a few years ago. I hope it will still be there...

I wore them today for my last full day of school, a day full of hopes for the future and a few "what might have been?" wonderings. We never got around to building models of Platonic Solids this year. (These earrings are not quite Platonic solids... but close!) Today disappeared as we watched the Fractured Fairy Tale movies made by our 2nd grade, as next year's students visited our classroom, as my class played their stringed instruments for the 2nd grade. My students packed their bags full of notebooks, time capsules, puppet show scenery, beading looms, and assorted other memories of our year together.

Maybe next year when I wear these earrings, we'll make those Platonic Solids. Next year...