Jewelry, Cabbage, Happy Birthday

February 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve been making jewelry for Valentine’s Day, playing with my pearls and glass and polished stones, feeling dragonish. I started a jewelry blog a while ago and haven’t kept it up, but I’m going to start writing more. So for those of you who are interested, here’s the page. Remember, buying handmade goods in this era of industry befouling the earth is an act of great virtue, for which you will be rewarded in the next life, if having beautiful necklaces and earrings isn’t enough for you. I’m no good at raising pastured chickens or making artisanal cheese, although my fruitcakes are pretty amazing. In any case, check it out (or don’t, see if I care).

We’ve been living a frugal life, eschewing the gaudy luxuries of dining out, theater and music (with some exceptions) and that’s been fine. Now I’m taking it to the next level, determined to use every scrap of food I buy, turning leftovers, soft onions and old cabbage-ends into brilliant meals. It helps that I’m reading and writing about this for work: globally, we waste nearly 50% of food produced. I’ve dreamed about this the last two nights, though I won’t discount the possibility that my unconscious has found a handy new metaphor for its fear that I am wasting my life. Nevertheless, scouring the fridge and eating what I may not be in the mood for doesn’t feel like deprivation, but a challenge.

But I buy crystallized ginger and chocolate bars and ice cream, so I’m not quite living like Russian poets under Stalin. (I know it wasn’t just poets, but they’re the ones whose lives I’ve read about.) I eat better than medieval royalty, and so do you, unless you dine at Krispy Kreme.

I’m also going to splurge on the Outsider Art Fair this weekend, because I want to and in celebration of my brother Jimmy’s birthday: he’d be 62 today, if he’d made it past 14.

He was a very good artist, as well as completely charming and lovable. I miss him all the time.

The poem that got Osip Mandelstam sent to Siberia, referred to as

The Stalin Epigram

Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home.

–Osip Mandelstam

Translation by W.S. Merwin

Christmas is Almost Here

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Look at more jewelry, see prices and buy here.


Fossil Coral and Lava Rock Necklace


Venetian Glass and Golden Coral Pendant


Venetian Glass Earrings

blue crazy lace.brace

Blue Crazy Lace Bracelet


Stick Pearl and Jasper Necklace

Flourite and Crystal Necklace

Earrings in my Etsy store

Earrings in my Etsy store

Cloissonne Earrings


Red Sponge Coral Bracelet

Three Ladies

December 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

Leopardskin Jasper and Brilliant Glass Necklace

I used to make fruitcakes for Christmas gifts. Scoff if you like, but they were delicious. I miss having the space to do that, to allow six or eight cakes to bathe in generous spirits for a month, while the ground turned purple and dimmer and crackly and Charles walked around wearing a blanket to conserve heat. Now, I make jewelry, and oddly enough it takes up even more room (though it doesn’t tempt me to add rum to my tea in mid-afternoon). Of course, I make jewelry to sell, which is why it takes up so much room.

I mostly sell over the Internet. I prefer selling in person, because the quality of the work is much more evident, and I can talk to the customer. But on the other hand, I like surprising people (I get effusive emails). I’m shipping overseas today, which means standing in line at the post office, because no matter how often I do it, I can’t ever get the customs forms right.

The post office ladies are very kind. They’re swift too, though there aren’t enough of them, which is why the powers that be removed the clock from the post office wall. Every time I go, I learn from their firm, efficient friendliness. One has an unfailing cheerfulness, brisk hands and a depth of calm like an African lake (she’s Korean), and I envy her family, though it may be that she’s so calm because she has no family; one has a sardonic eye and a crackle of irritation that make me cringe when I’ve been especially stupid, and feel an equivalent relief a moment later, when her crooked smile forgives me; and the quiet one lets her boredom show in such a way that her off-duty pleasures become almost visible, reminding me of my off-duty pleasures.

I like all three ladies, and after so many years, think of the three as if they were aspects of one. When occasionally there’s a man working, and he’s never as fast and rarely as friendly, I feel impelled to protest (of course I say nothing). This is a woman’s job, to stand and receive all those confused about customs, about whether to spend $20 overnight postage to get grandmother’s card to London by her birthday (I say nothing about that either), whether insurance is worth it and which stamps are prettier. Not that I’d mind if men could do the job. But they can’t. They haven’t yet. Not as well. Not in 20 years.

The Three Ladies

I dreamt. I saw three ladies in a tree,
and the one that I saw most clearly
showed her favors unto me,
and I saw her leg above the knee!

But when the time for love was come,
and of readiness I had made myself,
upon my head and shoulders
dropped the other two like an unquiet dew.

What were these two but the one?
I saw in their faces, I heard in their words,
wonder of wonders! it was the undoing of me
they came down to see!

Sister, they said to her who upon my lap
sat complacent, expectant:
he is dead in his head, and we
have errands, have errands…

Oh song of wistful night! Light shows
where it stops nobody knows, and two
are one, and three, to me, and to look
is not to read the book.

Robert Creeley

The Triumph of Death, or The 3 Fates. Flemish tapestry (probably Brussels, ca. 1510-1520). Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Snowy Day; Eat Chocolate

February 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Charles has gone home, so it’s just me and the cats and the work.

It’s snowing again, and I’m stocking up on crystals for my jewelry business. It’s always tempting to buy too much, especially the colors I haven’t seen yet. “Caribbean Blue Opal,” “Crystal Champagne.” They make me think of fairytale mountains of ice, glittering in eerie pastel. In the story my mother read me so often, the princes have to climb the ice mountain to win the princess, and all but one fall down and die along the way…which I always thought would put a pall on the wedding festivities. Surely those princes had parents, siblings, uncles and aunts? So I learned, to my detriment, to hear ‘death’ and replace it in my mind with ‘went home temporarily despondent.’

My other work today is to write an article on water. Drought, dams, sewage, floods, agricultural run off and 20-minute showers. I read how many gallons the average American uses a day, and calculate how little I could easily survive on. It energizes me with outrage. Charles remarks (by phone) that I should get the building to fix my leaky toilet. I take a break and read about dragons.

For better news, check this out: chocolate may protest against stroke.

And remember: curry once a month protects against Alzheimers, walnuts, beets, salmon and molasses are good for depression, blueberries protect against colorectal cancer, and coffee will keep you awake, conversational and occasionally witty.

Mont Blanc (first stanza)

(lines are chopped up and spaced weirdly because of this damn blog format…which I don’t understand.You can read the original here:

The everlasting universe of things

Flows through the mind,

and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark – now glittering –

now reflecting gloom –
Now lending splendor,

where from secret springs
The source of human thought

its tribute brings
Of waters, – with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook

will oft assume
In the wild woods,

amon the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it

leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend,

and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly

bursts and raves.

She Wolf

February 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

While following the stimulus-plan drama on TV, I’ve been making Valentine’s Day jewelry—not specifically for V day, just necklaces featuring that bright pink we all associate with heart-shaped chocolate boxes, roses, and female baboons in heat.

Many men, for reasons I fail to understand, have an aversion to Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolates, sex—what’s so difficult? No guesswork is involved.  My husband kept forgetting that I really liked expensive chocolate. For 25 years. But he made me some spectacular cards.

That was Charles, forgetful and poor. Philip actually hates the day itself, even though he listens to Sinatra on Jonathan Schwartz every weekend, and often cries. He’s as soft inside as a Hershey bar left on the dashboard in high summer. But maybe that’s the trouble. Why have a day for romance when all of life is supposed to be romantic, from boyish heroics to glamorous women, ‘50’s jazz bars, torch songs, idealistic Presidents…oh, wait, we have that last one. Maybe he’ll feel better this year.

I’m thinking we should skip the 14th and move right on to February 15th—the Roman festival of Lupercalia. On that date, in Classical times, Roman priests would go to the cave where the mythic she-wolf once suckled the twins Romulus and Remus, sacrifice a goat and a dog, smear the foreheads of two highborn young men with blood and wipe it off with wool soaked in milk, at which point the men were required to laugh—are you with me so far, guys? Then the hide of the goat was cut into strips and soaked in blood. The young men ran naked through the streets—except for a bit of goat hide fastened around their waists (I don’t know what happened to the dog, possibly eaten by the priests)—brandishing their bloody whips and lashing everyone in sight, but especially women who would line up for the favor, as this ritual was thought to bring fertility and ease in childbirth.

Now that Robert Bly’s Iron John has been unhip long enough to be hip again, maybe we should encourage our partners to strip down and flail about with animal hide, while we wait “like children at school present[ing] their hands to be struck”* and keep our mouths shut about how often we’ve entertained the fantasy of pulling out a bloody tampon and smacking them in the face with it.

Ok, maybe that’s just me.

Yes, I have my period today, for the 475th time. Imagine if I’d made embryos out of all those eggs, rounded up a herd of wolves to bear and suckle them…I could replace the entire House of Representatives and all Republican senators with my offspring.

* Plutarch, The Life of Caesar

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