the ugly earring

ug‧ly [uhg-lee] offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance

Category: seashells

the shells grew within

The question was this: Why are seashells often found far from the sea, sometimes embedded in solid rock at the tops of mountains? The ancient Greeks had known and written about these seashells. Medieval theologians had noticed them in the building stones of their cathedrals. Miners and quarrymen found them, as did farmers, shepherds, and travelers. Even the Pope in Rome must have noticed them and wondered, because they littered the slopes of Vatican Hill.

Today we think it natural to say that the seashells were left by a sea that once covered the land. This, in fact, was the explanation offered by the ancient Greeks. The very earliest of the Greek philosophers, the so-called Pre-Socratics, made it the keystone of their various theories of the world, six centuries before Christ. Aristotle continued the tradition, writing that the waxing and waning of the seas were part of the world’s “vital process.” The land naturally experienced many inundations over the course of time.

Yet most educated people of Steno’s time rejected this idea. They thought instead that the shells grew within the Earth. Despite all appearances, the seashells were not actually seashells at all. No clams had ever lived inside the fossil clam shells; no seas had ever covered the mountains.

photo: jf and son via hntr gthrr
text from: the seashell on the mountaintop by alan cutler


les dents des femmes sont des objets si charmants

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”

~loren eiseley

title and photo from Man Ray’s L’Étoile de mer
found here: prisms of thread

seashell shoes

A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

~william butler yeats, a man young and old: III. The mermaid

the razor clam

But I didn’t want to forget. Hugging my grudge, ugly and prickly, a sad sea urchin, I trudged off on my own, in the opposite direction toward the forbidding prison. As from a star I saw, coldly and soberly, the separateness of everything. I felt the wall of my skin; I am I. That stone is a stone. My beautiful fusion with the things of this world was over.
The Tide ebbed, sucked back into itself. There I was, a reject, with the dried black seaweed whose hard beads I liked to pop, hollowed orange and grapefruit halves and a garbage of shells. All at once, old and lonely, I eyed these– razor clams, fairy boats, weedy mussels, the oyster’s pocked gray lace (there was never a pearl) and tiny white “ice cream cones.” You could always tell where the best shells were– at the rim of the last wave, marked by a mascara of tar. I picked up, frigidly, a stiff pink starfish. It lay at the heart of my palm, a joke dummy of my own hand. Sometimes I nursed starfish alive in jam jars of seawater and watched them grow back lost arms. On this day, this awful birthday of otherness, my rival, somebody else, I flung the starfish against a stone. Let it perish.
— Sylvia Plath

photo: Alexander McQueen, s/s 01 – razor clam shell gown

what should our gaze mean?

We would climb the highest dune,
from there to gaze and come down:
the ocean was performing;
we contributed our climb.

Waves leapfrogged and came
straight out of the storm.
What should our gaze mean?
Kit waited for me to decide.

Standing on such a hill,
what would you tell your child?
That was an absolute vista.
Those waves raced far, and cold.

“How far could you swim, Daddy,
in such a storm?”
“As far as was needed,” I said,
and as I talked, I swam.

(With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach by william stafford)

photo from theselby via the shiny squirrel

stranded on the PCH


wake up, wake up,

we’ve made it to the ocean.


and look they’ve come to meet you…



(if you look carefully you can see them)


yama collected some souvenirs…




and seashells.


while we wait for AAA to unlock the car.

random glee


thanks to this posting i was introduced to the lady amanda harlech and then came across this article. how i heart schizophrenic writers throwing kudos and insults to galliano’s ex-muse!

Somehow this underpaid writer who writes about antioxidants and natural health; and reads “go, dog go” to little bella is slightly envious as she sees another moth hole in her vintage sweater. 

“galliano’s ex-muse ?!”


dear john,

this season we embraced our grey hair and the turban squash, too.




did you know the ue is a mind reader? next year’s trend prediciton: folktronica, tunng, and seashells.