365 Days of Earrings

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pizza, fresh from the Earth Oven

I put on this pair of earrings tonight after eating delicious, homemade pizza fresh from our outdoor Earth Oven. Last night, I baked the loaves of bread indoors, since the Earth Oven needed a little more drying time, and I didn't think the dough could handle another day of waiting. But we ate that bread for breakfast and lunch, and tonight we enjoyed pizza. Hooray!

We've enjoyed the process of building our oven. Here is a photo of my earrings atop the guidebook we used (well, it was mostly used by my husband John, who has read it so many times he can practically recite chapter and verse).

One day soon, when we master the timing, we'll cook pizza, than bread, then maybe fire some sculpey earrings like today's pair when it gets down to 275 degrees.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Scratch Baking

Today the sun shone bright and I hoped that we would bake pizza and bread in our Earth Oven. I had the pair of earrings (bread and pizza) ready to go. But I didn't wear them out of fear that I might jinx our oven.

Our good friends and neighbors Bob and Ardyce joined us--after two days of weather postponements--as we anticipated the high temperatures described in How to Build Your Own Earth Oven.

Sadly the oven did not reach a high enough heat to bake well before we succombed to hunger around 8 PM and heated sausages over a wood fire. So I'm saving the bread and pizza earrings until we reach our goal--perhaps tomorrow. 

Today's earring stands alone: the Earth Oven. The oven is burning hot now, as I write, at 10:31 PM. We're confident that it will bake both pizza and bread, once it dries and we master the timing and technique. But not today.

Tomorrow, we will try once more.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Transfixed by swirls

Yesterday afternoon and evening the skies opened and much needed rain fell on our part of the world. The forecast called for more today. As I headed off to yoga I donned this swirling water t-shirt. The earrings seemed to match, so I wore them, too.

We had no rain today, but the low pressure felt like a looming storm. Tension in the air. Thick enough to warrant a paddle.

I bought these earrings from a vendor of African handicrafts at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival. Her display had taken a tumble during transport, and this was one of the few intact pairs she had available.

I love this swirling pattern, so simple, so transfixing. I made myself a swirling copper pair today, then altered it a bit: one remains 2-dimensional, the other now dangles in 3-D.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Little Light for Harry Potter

I'm not quite sure why I chose these earrings this morning, although I was hoping for a starry night in which to test our new Earth Oven. But the drizzly morning turned into a rainy afternoon and a stormy evening, bringing moisture to a world so dry that the grass was crunchy underfoot and the river hard to navigate, even in a kayak.

We decided to opt for a movie this afternoon: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I'm a fan of the series--more of the books than the movies, but I've seen them and enjoyed them all.

The expressions on those crescent moons could be mine: speechless at the horror and devastation that one person set upon evil can bring upon his own kind. We've just witnessed it again in Norway. Unmitigated tragedy.

I noticed that I photographed my moons facing away from each other, as if guarding each other's backs. This movie, like the book it's based on, is the darkest of the series. The progression from playful, adventurous childhood through angst-ridden adolescence to crisis-riven young adulthood is in many ways true to life. Many of us experience dark and difficult trials on our way to finding adult happiness. But the gray tones of this movie reminded me of Roman Polanski's depiction of Warsaw in The Pianist, and of Saving Private Ryan. 

I'm glad that my own children are now adults, old enough to understand these powerful themes. But the teacher/mother in me worries about the young children who see this film. The cheerful epilogue does nothing to dispel the shadows. 

So, my earrings. A little light shining in the darkness that I would have tossed to Harry if I could have.

My daughter Phoebe had hoped to see the movie on opening night, July 14th, at midnight, but she picked us up at the airport that night, and had to wait a few days.

We flew in from Paris, where this poster could be seen in every metro station. Opening night: 13 juillet. Another reason Phoebe wishes she had been in Paris with us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blueberries in the Forest

This afternoon I went gathering. I speculate that I must come from a long line of gatherers, women who kept their families alive on the food they were able to collect in the wild. Some people find berry picking tedious, tiring, trivial. But for me, picking berries is one of the great joys of summer, celebrating one of the true wonders of creation. Time well spent.

So today I hiked into the Allegheny National Forest, following a trail that I read about on a flier 17 years ago. I don't know how many people frequent this berry patch, but there are always plenty of berries for those who are willing to hike the uneven ground through prickers and swampland, over rocks and roots. When my children were small we used to make up our own version of Going on a Bear Hunt based on our berry picking adventure.

When I got home, I made these blueberry earrings. I'm looking forward to blueberry pancakes, blueberry buckle, blueberries on my granola...

In a few years, maybe my grand-niece Hazel will be old enough to join me when I go gathering. First we'll read Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal. She'll have a little bucket to fill, so she can hear kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. Maybe she'll cover the bottom, so she stops hearing that sound. Or maybe she'll eat them all, and not have any to take home for next winter. I hear that Hazel is already browsing through the low-bush blueberries near her own house. I wonder if she has that gathering gene?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birds on a Wire

I strung this wire, punctuated with beads, to hold the earrings that I've worn at our cabin this summer. It seems like a good place to photograph the "birds on a twig" earrings that my daughter Kathe made for me some years ago. (It's too dark to take a picture outside... missed my chance on one of the most beautiful days of the summer...)

Today I kept thinking of my earrings as "Birds on a Wire," as in the lyrics of a Leonard Cohen song that k.d. lang sings on her amazing album of songs by Canadian songwriters, hymns of the 49th parallel.

Bird  on a Wire
Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
Like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.

If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
He said to me, "You must not ask for so much." 
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
She cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Oh like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

When I listen to this song, I am struck by its beauty, as I am when I see a bird on a wire. But I'm glad not to be a bird on a wire, in the song or out. I'd like to be a bird gliding above the river or hiding in the tall grass along its bank, free as a bird.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Pedaling, Paddling Day

I awoke to the sound of a steady rain, the first good rain here in the month of July. The rain let up, the skies cleared, and around noon I set out to ride my bicycle 6 miles to the Cooksburg Cafe. My plan: an ice cream cone for lunch. 

By the time I'd browsed through MacBeth's gift shop, and the one at the Cooksburg Cafe, the skies had opened again. Cindy, who runs the place, said that the forecast called for severe thunderstorms anytime until 7:30 PM. I watched the rain fall for a while, eyeing the crowd under the awning at the ice cream place. I didn't think I'd enjoy eating an ice cream cone amidst a wet throng of disappointed vacationers, and I didn't think a cone would last too long in this rain.

So I rode home through a sometimes steady rain punctuated with rolls of thunder, glad that I was not in an aluminum canoe or even floating slowly downstream in a tube. The saddest sight was a group of Mennonites in their long pastel dresses and caps. Six women stood waistdeep in water, searching the river for something they'd lost, while others waited patiently in their canoes. I pedaled on, hoping that my bike helmet would not need to protect me from hailstones.

Back at the cabin, I settled down to make some kayak earrings, something I've wanted to do for a long time. I dabbled with Sculpey for quite a while, trying to shape the cockpits (I used a tiny pebble), make paddles, and attach the two together. As the beads I used to balance the paddles began to look like people (of an abstract sort) I smiled at the serendipity.

My husband John snapped this photo of me, heading upstream in my Dagger as the sun prepared to set. How I do love an evening paddle. Even when the river is so low, I can follow a channel upstream to the riffle where I play for a while amidst the boulders and the currents they create. 

And now to enjoy a bowl of ice cream !

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stories in Stones

Today I wore these earrings made of polished rocks and stone beads. I made them some time ago, loving the blend of colors and shapes.

I photographed them on the large stone that's sat at the entrance to our cabin for close to 20 years. We stand on this stone to hose off our feet after wading in the river or walking through the grass.

Before my daughter Kathe decided that this spot would be where she would be married, we only had two stones here. My husband John had searched for the perfect polished river stones and had carried them across the river (one with the help of his dad and one above his head when the water was deep). For the wedding, he decided to enlarge this patio. As with every change John ensivions for The Pinery, the protests from our children were spirited. To wash our feet, we each now stand on the stone we love.

Stones surround the firepit
where we gather
for campfires.
The foundation of
our Earth Oven
is made of
river stone.

We collect stones.
Here is John's
potato rock collection.
Each of these stones was chosen to serve a purpose. Each has a story to tell. So often we don't take the time to be still and listen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Home Alone, with copper wire and beads

I was home alone this afternoon, and I got to thinking about hammered copper. So I lugged my anvil (an antique iron) and my ancient hammer out to the picnic table, along with my craft box. I began to play with copper wire, hammering it thin at one end.

I tried twisting the beaten wire into curlicues. I'm home alone, like I said, so anything goes, matched or mismatched, don't make no nevermind. Even triple negatives are permissible when one is home alone.

And now I'm testing copper earwires. Soon after I first had my ears pierced, I bought some earrings with nickel posts and my earlobes quickly became infected. When I checked online, I read that a small percentage of people are allergic to copper wire. And that wire sold as copper often contains nickel. Further, the copper can discolor the earlobe as it oxidizes. I've been wearing these for several hours, with no tingling and no exciting color changes.

And now to curl up and read. Ah, summer!

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Element-ary Day

Today was an elemental sort of day, so I wore these hammered copper earrings. The maker attached them to the ear wires with a welded twist of copper wire. Basic. Cu, Atomic number 29. Known to the ancients. Named for the island of Cyprus where it was abundant. I've always loved copper, the reddish-orange metal which turns blue-green when it oxidizes.

My husband John and I spent many hours working with other elemental materials (sand, clay, soil, and water) to build our Earth Oven. First the sand mound, shown here covered with samp newspaper. John is mixing the next layer, the real oven layer, which we built over the sand mound. Once the outside dries, we will remove the sand mound, creating the open space in which we will bake.

We struggled a bit to find the right consistency so that the mud would not slump. The elemental virtue, patience, came into play.

We're hoping to enjoy bread, the staff of life, baked in our Earth Oven before the summer's over.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bee Balms of Summer

This morning I boiled up some "hummingbird nectar" and filled our feeder. In the month since we first came to our cabin, hummingbirds have been flitting by, pausing outside out windows to hover at the sight of reds and pinks inside.

As I started to type, my husband John announced, "Hummingbird at the feeder!"

The only hummingbird that I've managed to capture with my camera today is my earring, a gift from my mother-in-law some birthdays ago:

I perched it atop a bee balm blossom, frequented all afternoon by a twosome of female hummingbirds who flitted away each time I lifted my camera.

Every summer, here at our cabin on the Clarion River, hummingbirds harvest nectar to store as fat for their arduous flight south to Florida or Mexico come autumn.

Here's the best shot I took today, with the hummingbird in motion in the center. Not worth posting, but look at that bee balm!

My son-in-law Jim planted this patch of bee balm two summers ago when he lived in the green shed we call our barn. He created a backdrop of flower gardens for the spot where he and my daughter Kathe said their wedding vows two years ago, on 07/08/09.

Jim officially joined our family that day, but he'd long since become Pinery-Kin: in the two months he'd lived at The Pinery, he developed the same attachment to this place that we all feel. We're like the hummingbirds. We soak up the nectar of summer food, flitting from one pasttime to the next, basking in the warmth of summer before heading off on the long journey through the year until we return to The Pinery once more. Summer renews my soul.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Following the way of the labyrinth

Early this morning, I made these labyrinth medallions into earrings. I bought them in Chartres, France at a shop called La Crypte for 3.5 euros each, rather than the 39 euros I could have paid for a pair of earrings. 

This photograph shows my earrings dangling from bricks in the Earth Oven that my husband John is building in front of our cabin.

The Chartres labyrinth is one of the sites I visited in France that I found most moving.It was built into the floor of the nave. Pilgrims who had already walked hundreds of miles journeyed through it, praying as they wound their way. I photographed my labyrinth earrings again on top of this card of the labyrinth that we bought in Chartres.

I finished making my earrings in time to leave for yoga class. This labyrinth reminds me of some that I'd seen as Buddhist symbols. How far we have come in our culture from a time when people chose to move slowly through a maze, meditating on their progress toward a perfect central belief.

When I returned home from yoga, John was finishing the arched doorway of the Earth Oven. Ancient practices, enlightenment, patience.

We're looking forward to sharing a loaf of our own artisan bread, fresh from the oven.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Que Sera, Sera

I brought my husband John home from the hospital today. I wore these earrings that he gave me for Christmas a few years ago, purchased at a holiday market in Washington, DC. The silver scrollwork jumped out at me this morning: question marks. What will the future bring?

When I was little, my dad loved to sing a song from a Doris Day movie:

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here's what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

My dad didn't believe in predestination any more than I do. Work hard, follow your dreams, forge your own path, that's how I was raised. But sometimes, stuff happens. Illness, for example. Accident. Falling in love. And then, what will be, will be.

We're home together at our cabin, next to a river, in the Pennsylvania woods near Cook Forest State Park. I photographed these earrings dangling from one of my husband's shot glasses(his collection exceeds 100). John planted that white pine and that blue spruce. He built the railing on which this shot glass stands. He's got his list of projects set for tomorrow. Me, too. But stuff does happen. Que sera, sera. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Of Lizards and Lilies

I wore lizard earrings today, with the idea in the back of my head that they are symbols of resilience, with that unique ability to distract predators by dropping their tails, then regrowing a replacement. And they're survivors who've adapted to life in harsh, dry climates or lush tropical ones. These lizards are enameled copper, purchased from a market vendor in Seattle when I was there to visit my brother.

This label on his hospital pillowcase
made me laugh.
We just climbed the Eiffel Tower
5 days ago!
Resilience was what I was aiming for as I headed off to visit my husband John in the hospital. And I found him looking as well as could be expected in a hospital gown, with tubes dangling every which way. He'd gotten up and washed his face, brushed his teeth, and was feeling more like himself, in spite of the blood clots resting in the base of his lungs.

When I got home from the hospital, I googled lizards, and enjoyed reading exerpts from a book by Daniel A. Greenberg that I found posted online. To the Egyptians and Greeks, lizards symbolized hopefulness and wisdom. The Romans revered lizards as symbols of rebirth. So I feel justified in choosing lizards today, to signify healing and hope.

I wandered down to the river bank to photograph my lizards dangling from another resilient species, the Turk's-cap Lily, Lilium superbum.

The Clarion River plants wildflowers on our bank each spring when floods deposit soil, seeds, and tubers. Dolly Parton sings that "wildflowers don't care where they grow." I agree, as long as she means they choose their spots for their own reasons, not to please others.

This year's lilies flourish in the trench the river dug at the base of our towering sycamore tree. From our bank, I cannot see any others growing anywhere. I spotted some way upstream, along the shady bank of a spring-fed creek. They care where they grow, but good luck getting them to grow if they didn't choose the spot!

Twenty-five years ago, John and I chose this spot to be our summer home. We've put down roots here. We can't imagine a better place to heal, blessed with the hopefulness and wisdom of the lizard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On the way to watching the Women's World Cup

This morning I adorned my ears with this dazzling pair of soccer earrings. They were a gift from my niece Marianne when we visited her in Germany five years ago during the World Cup. I wore them today to watch the final game of the Women's World Cup, played in Germany.

But plans went awry when my husband John expressed concern about the strange pain he felt in his chest. After a 9-1-1 call, an ambulance ride, an emergency room CT scan, and another ambulance ride to an intensive care unit, all is well. Some pesky blood clots made their way into his lungs, but blood thinners should have him home again soon.

We missed watching the soccer game together, and while we would have loved to see the US team win, we're happy for the Japanese who have overcome so much adversity this year.

Of all of the places we have been in the past three weeks--airports, airplanes, bike rides through the French countryside, museums in Paris, a train ride to Chartres, a layover in Iceland, even home in VA--here in PA is the best place for John to receive treatment and to recover. So we're smiling, and looking forward to watching another great soccer game together before too long. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ride the Earth

Early this summer, my daughter Phoebe came home with this t-shirt: an early birthday gift she knew I would love. Seven bikes dangle across the front of the shirt, an Earth on every wheel. Ride the Earth.

Phoebe stayed home, working and tending our 2 dogs and 2 cats, and her sister's dog, too, while her dad and I spent 2 weeks in France and her sister explored Alaska for 10 days.

How blessed I am to have a daughter like my Feeb. She made it possible for me to Ride the Earth. Now I've headed off again, to our summer cabin, where I'll ride my bike each day and paddle my kayak and wade along the shore.

I made these earrings earlier this summer, and I thought they suited this one-more-day-of-traveling, when the wheels of my little blue car kept rolling, bringing me back home to the part of the Earth that I love to ride the most. The place where my children learned to ride bikes, and where we've ridden together each of the past 24 summers.

I wish that all of my children were here with me. But I am so proud of the independent people they have become, people who seek their own paths as they ride the Earth.

My Longest Day

Thursday, July 14th was perhaps the longest day of my life. I wore (briefly) these wooden airplane earrings that I bought long ago when I taught a transportation unit to Kindergartners. I set my alarm for 4 AM in Paris, France as I lay down at 10 PM to sleep. The sweeping light of the Eiffel Tower filled the sky and the sound of fireworks echoed from building to building. I could see their lights reflecting off the windows across the street. I don't know when I drifted off to sleep, but I know I awoke at 3:12 and didn't sleep again. What if the alarm didn't go off?

A taxi drove us to Charles de Gaulle Airport, where I snapped this photo in the gaudily decorated ladies restroom before boarding our 8 AM flight to Keflavik Airport near Reykjavik, Iceland where we had a 7 hour layover. Many people nap and achieve restful sleep. I rest my head patiently hoping for sleep. If I nap, I awake cranky and exhausted.

We boarded our flight home to Dulles Airport at 5 PM Iceland time, reached Dulles at 7 PM Washington, DC time, and arrived home in Paris, VA at 9 PM. That's 2 AM in Paris France.

That was a long day. But as I wondered whether I might have been the longest I'd ever been awake, I realized that 25 years ago, on July 14 and 15, I was awake far longer.

In 1986, I went into labor early in the morning on July 14. I awoke feeling my first labor pains at 5 AM. I stayed up all night that night, timing my contractions and hoping they were doing their job as I walked and leaned and walked some more. My daughter Käthe finally arrived at 10:59 on the evening of July 15. I stayed up a few more hours, enjoying her, before finally falling into a restful sleep. 42 hours of labor, maybe 45 hours awake. 

On her 25th birthday, we shared a chocolate on chocolate cake, as we have every birthday that we've been together since 1986. I chose this pair of earrings that Käthe made for me a few years ago. Both Käthe and I were wearing the same shade of aqua.

I bent a candle to make a swing to hold the earrings. My long-suffering family put up with my earring photo shoot in the middle of a birthday celebration.

I'd just sat with Käthe and her dad looking at photographs of the vacation that Käthe and her husband Jim took on their vacation in Alaska. How I admire this daughter of mine whose love of adventure takes her hiking steep slopes and kayaking across windy bays to camp on a barren beach. 

 As a baby, she loved to climb--bookshelves, her high chair, staircases that were meant to be climbed and barriers that were not. Long before she could walk or talk, she was scaling heights.

I spent many hours shadowing my climbing girl, there to catch her if she slipped, or to swirl her away with a cuddle when her destination seemed too treacherous. As soon as she was able she tackled tree climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing.

For her birthday this year, I bought her a climbing rope. She and Jim love rock climbing, and look forward to adventuring on rock faces together. In my heart, I will always be there, to catch or cuddle my climbing girl.