Archive for the 'necklaces' Category

Elephants reconfigured

July 21, 2014

Back in April I posted a picture of a broken cup:

Broken Item

It had been broken in transit, during some portion of its journey from original vendor to me.

There’s a mosaic studio down the street, and I brought the pieces of the broken cup in.  The co-owner of the studio and I discussed what might be made out of the pieces, and she started cutting the pieces with a very impressive tool.  She observed the cup was made from good china as she cut.

I left after we had reached a pretty good understanding of what she would make out of it.

Here’s how it turned out:

elephant cup project photo1


Pretty wonderful  —  by which I mean, very wonderful.

It’s for hanging necklaces from.

I had told the co-owner I would like the elephants to be “on parade.”  We had agreed on hooks of some sort underneath — she had thought for hanging keys, I had suggested for hanging necklaces, instead.  When she told me over the phone about how the project was going, during the intervening week, she said she was using “cup hooks” to hang the necklaces from, and I pictured those little metal hooks with a convex shield against the surface the screw goes into — I didn’t realize she meant handles from real china cups.  So I was pleasantly surprised — kind of thrilled — when I went down to pick up my reconfigured broken cup today and saw the real cup handle hooks.

In any event, this sort of thing is a version for me of making lemonade from lemons, of recycling, of finding a way to create from something broken.  I did, though, defer to the co-owner for the actual craftsmanship, although she had offered to teach me how to do it myself.  I’m sure there’s some significance there, it just hasn’t yet occurred to me what it is.  And it took her, a person experienced in this kind of craft, 4 hours to do it, and over the course of a week –twice as long as she anticipated.  So I may not have been incorrect to defer.



What does the etiquette book say?

October 10, 2013

My mother has an anecdote about learning on the spot the etiquette for going through a receiving line at a socialite’s wedding.  One of the older women receiving the guests gave her a prompt for what she was supposed to say in response.  She was college age at the time.  She appreciated the prompt.

My mother had the advantage of realizing from the details of the situation that she was being called upon to do something, and the nature of a receiving line — its length — allowed her to climb the learning curve successfully during the episode.

I think sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances in which we don’t think of the appropriate response until we are descending the staircase afterwards.

I think it’s a mistake to think of this situation as an example of a failed imitation of the receiving line scenario I just described, during which there was time to learn, regroup, and respond as necessary.  Instead it is another sort of opportunity, one in which we are being asked to learn a different skill, I think.

I suspect it will be a new skill, not mere repetition of what we usually do and have done before, that we will find we are being asked to learn.  And, of course, we can not learn it, we can fail to recognize it, refuse to do it, etc.  We can mistake it for something it isn’t, especially if to make this mistake would support our trying to put our onus onto another person.

Sometimes I have figured out what to do in puzzling situations by taking the advice an elderly lady, who was my predecessor as treasurer for the Afro-American Society of Arlington gave me years ago.  She said her husband suggested she do the thing she was avoiding.  The example she gave me was revisiting her childhood home after her mother died.  She hadn’t wanted to do it, but it helped when she did do it, finally.

At the time, I was grappling with bereavement, and what I was avoiding was buying myself a necklace.  Sounds strange, but the two turned out to be connected, and buying myself a necklace freed something up and I was able to move on to a new step in the grieving process.

Costella didn’t try to tell me what to do or tell me what I was avoiding, that work was mine.  She gave me a process:  identify what you’re avoiding and try doing it.

In another example, I was avoiding having a difficult conversation with a relative.  In one instantiation of the pattern, I asked someone else to help me with the conversation, and I regretted the results.  Not surprisingly, the opportunity came around again, and this time I took the bull by the horns and did it myself.  It was rough.  On me and on the relative.  But I think it was necessary, for both of us.

I actually think we see people and even groups going through this in the public sphere.  They try the same thing over and over, and then they try doing what they have been avoiding and the pattern resolves.  But it takes gumption to take the road they are avoiding.

Learning a new skill and moving through our lives can involve accepted etiquette.  It can also involve diving deep within ourselves and discerning what we should be doing through that process instead.  I suspect making the transition from one method to the other is a difficult learning experience in itself.


May 5, 2012

I saw some beautiful Egyptian artifacts at the Museum of Fine Arts the other day (the day Juno was off-limits to me and the rest of the public).  I was especially drawn to some of the jewelry, necklaces, collars, hair ornaments in turquoise, lapis, and carnelian.

I love that combination of turquoise, lapis lazuli, and deep  orange, in Tibetan finery and Native American decorative arts as well.  But my expectation is coral, not carnelian.  I don’t know why and I don’t know which element is “preferable” or “better,” even just for me.

I know I am drawn to coral, that when I wear it I feel different in a positive sort of way.  And I am aware from the news that coral reefs are threatened by changes in the ocean and changes in earth’s climate and atmosphere.  So part of me wants to champion the coral and see the carnelian as an inferior substitution, an impostor.

On the other hand, I can wonder whether I have been unhelpfully avoiding something, the carnelian, that I should be embracing.

It’s interesting that coral can be dyed, that carnelian can have different hues.  (I’ve also had friends with white hair who used to be redheads, and friends with white hair who took to dying it red, a color that was never theirs when they were younger.)  Maybe they help tell the same story, in terms of their relevancy to me.  I can see in that common feature something similar to the way one color of wine is transformed into another during a Tu Bish’vat seder.  It also reminds me of how the grafted part of a showy hybrid plant can die back and the root stock then flourish.  Two elements blended in one thing, one having ascendency at times, then the other.  Trying to compare them and judge them relative to one another — that strikes me as probably in error, that rather I should probably see each of them as having its place and serving its own function.

It’s funny, I can spin a riff off of seeing carnelian in Ancient Egyptian jewelry at a museum and derive a spiritual interpretation, where maybe I should just visit Jeanette in the bead store and grab a bunch of carnelian beads and see how they affect me.

Fake coral

May 2, 2012

I bought some glass coral beads yesterday, inexpensive but pretty and won’t run when wet the way dyed coral will.

I doubt such a necklace could be used the way a real coral necklace sometimes is in some cultures to keep away “the evil eye” from a baby by having her wear it.  I  also know of plenty of stories in which an unwitting buyer has ended up with glass “jewels” instead of the real deal.  But it occurred to me that there is a place for fake jewelry, even when jewelry is worn for its protective or healing properties.

Eventually we are healed and through other means protected, and then we do okay wearing even glass beads, unless somebody suggests otherwise and successfully talks us out of it.  Glass beads can provide a transitional phase, in which we are riding the two-wheeler without training wheels without realizing it —  the beads give us confidence to try out our abilities to use other means to remain safe.

I suspect a problem arises as well if someone interferes with this phase and tells us too soon the beads are faux.

But overall this way of seeing a role for fake jewelry allows me to find a place for it in a story in which it often has assumed the role of leading to heartache and tragedy.

Not lost, not found?

November 21, 2011

It has occurred to me that this old coral necklace that I have been thinking is lost maybe actually no longer exists, literally.

I bought it from Jeannette, but she hadn’t made it for me, it was an old piece she had bought and thought I would like, including because the beads were old enough not to have been dyed (which is very helpful if you wear the thing constantly, into showers, while mowing the lawn in summer, and into bed — the dyed stuff runs).  I think it may have started to fall apart and Jeannette may have restrung it into multiple necklaces for me.

(The original necklace at issue was longer than I usually wear, that I do remember.  Part of what is confusing me is that I know Jeannette sold me two necklaces at the time, from the same previous owner, and I think I was assuming that the necklaces I could find were attributable to that other necklace, which she did remake at the time because it wasn’t wearable as is, but I think that accounts for only one of my present necklaces.)

Although I am sheepish that I can’t remember what I have or where it is (this holds so true when I change where I keep things, like the citrus reamer I couldn’t find for a very long time because I had changed which kitchen cabinet I store it in — invariably I remember the old storage place for the thing but not the new), I kind of like this sequence of first thinking the thing is lost and feeling sad and frustrated, then learning to sit with that and not transmute the emotions into something else, and then finding that the object itself and not the emotions have been transformed.  And I like the idea that rather than getting hung up on regaining something that’s over, however much I miss it, I have something new that has come out of the old and that is what suits me now to enjoy.  Why it takes a period of disuse and forgetfulness to experience this, I’m not sure, but it does remind me of other sorts of transformations, like those involving losing the spiritual connections we have as children and then regaining them as adults after a period of struggle.


Lost and found

November 20, 2011

I recently came across a necklace I hadn’t been able to find, and this morning I came across a mala (prayer beads) I was pretty sure I no longer had.  To me the absence of this mala had come to represent an old story in which I had gotten blamed by an adept for the loss of his adeptness, which he had attributed to my loss of his mala.  I had accepted the blame, but it turned out he knew at some level that he had lost his knack because he had lost something else, whether his faith or how to engage in a particular spiritual technique, and that thinking that that loss was caused by the loss of an object was a form of magical thinking; rather, the object and he probably became separated as another manifestation of the same change in his life, and he kind of knew that, but it was emotionally easier to blame me, and I accepted the blame.

I can’t find yet another string of beads, a strand of old coral.  I’m pretty sure it’s still somewhere around here, although it’s possible that if I put it in a pocket of some clothing I later gave away without first checking the pockets, it could be gone to me.  But focusing on my current relationship with it allows me to do two things: remind myself that objects are props, not the main event, and second, that if I need a replacement for something I’ve lost and actually need, in all likelihood I will come across something similar in the future (that’s happened to me with things I have given away and later wished I had (like some peacock feathers), or things of mine others have gotten rid of that I would have liked to have (like my baby dishes), or something that someone gave me and then took back (like a particular sweater): years later I do come across something that’s pretty similar.

What I find myself learning to do this time around, with this necklace I can’t find, is to not veer away from the emotion connected for me with having lost something.  Kind of like what I hear in Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art.”  I (functionally) don’t have it, and I want it.  I’m not telling myself I don’t really want it, I’m admitting that I do really want it and that I am unhappy that I don’t have it.  I am also reminding myself that whatever it is it is a prop for, that less tangible thing and my relationship with it are not jeopardized by the loss of this prop.  It feels as if I’m untangling some emotional wires that have gotten crossed because in previous situations Ihave had trouble facing the loss head on.


November 4, 2011

A woman much older and wiser than I once counseled me when I was feeling stuck about an emotional issue, that I should consider doing whatever it was I wanted not to do.  Her husband apparently counseled her the same when she was having trouble grieving the death of her mother.  She had an aversion to visiting or going into the house she had grown up in, and he suggested she consider going in there if the current owners would permit it.  They did, she did, and her issue resolved.

When we had that conversation at her kitchen table, I had somewhat recently become a widow, she had been widowed longer, and I was having trouble moving along.  I had the sense it had something to do with necklaces.  I knew I felt uncomfortable buying necklaces for myself, that was kind of my starting point.  Part of it was about finances, part of it had something to do with the fact that Willy had developed a habit of buying me necklaces (including while he was away on business trips), part of it was doing something like that for myself instead, but there was another part that went deeper than that and I had no conscious idea of what it was.   But once I bought a couple of necklaces for myself, I found myself with a method that helped me.  It turned out not to be just about the act of buying a piece of jewelry for myself — I found that I felt better wearing certain stones.  For example, coral and turquoise, yes, citrine and amethyst, definitely not.  There have been other stones that have helped, but coral has been a constant.

I learned more, though, than that I got some benefit from skin contact with certain rocks, minerals, crystals, and shells.  What it taught me was that when I get stuck, at least some times, I should hazard doing the thing I really want to avoid doing and walk through that fire.  It’s almost as if my aversion is a signpost for where I should be heading, if I just know to read it in reverse.

Getting help

October 1, 2011

I get a lot of feedback about my hair — it has been a running theme in my life ever since I can remember, regardless of how I wear it.

My latest episode involved getting my teeth cleaned.  It’s been humid here, and I think that was why my hair was getting in my dentist’s way — it was sticking out more and lying flat less.  So I offered to pull it back and stick it in my collar, and I forgot I was wearing a necklace outside my clothing (I usually wear them against my skin), and I broke the clasp off the thing.

Later in the day I went to the woman who had originally made the necklace for me, confessed my mistake, and asked her if she could restring the necklace for me.  Which she did, as well as making me a new necklace, one from kyanite and silver (very short, no way this one can be worn completely outside my clothes).  She also pressed on me a hair trim, some haircombs she says are from the 1940s, and a new hairstyle.

To my way of thinking, this episode was about many things, but also a good example of how the universe works with what I can contribute to my well-being — I can get myself to the dentist, and that’s enough to get me some reasonable help with my hair, if I just play along.