I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God...how my heart yearns within me!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Comments Are On Again! Europeans: Beware of Cookies!

My version of Spanish eggs
Blogger has let me know on my dashboard that hiding cookies on my blog is a big no-no. Since I'm not sure that I understand how to properly warn my European friends that there may be cookies on my blog, let this post serve as my notice: There are cookies as well as other food items on this blog!

There. Consider yourself warned. Oh, and thanks to bloggers Mr. Geo and KaHolly (who has a quilt pattern giveaway going on, by the way) for letting me know you missed being able to comment on this blog. You should now be able to leave comments again if you so desire. Take some of my cookies along to share too...

Walking at Heron Pond in Southern Illinois: A Tale (or Tail) of Us Two "Sitties"

A reminder to tread as lightly but as often on those feet as possible: the rest of your body will thank you for it
The reflex is an only child
He's waiting by the park...

Sitting and working at the computer all day can lead to pain of the posterior, or PITA, as we acronymically refer to it around here. But--does the problem begin or even end with the tail? Bone, that is. If the evolutionists are correct, then our sitting so much, which is forcing the coccyx or remnant of our ancestral tailbone to remain constantly tucked under and out of the way, may cause it to just disappear altogether! Never fear! There are solutions. Reflexology and walking are here...and here...and here (see pictures above and below) to save the day.

The reflex is in charge of
Finding treasure in the dark...

No clover here--just lots of duckweed and cypress trees
And watching over lucky clover
Isn't that bizarre?

A friendly face (or two) along the trail at Heron Pond

Every little thing the reflex does...

The only time I seem small

They don't grow 'em like this anymore!

Leaves you answered with a question mark...

(Like what does that song by Duran Duran really mean? And why is SAM wearing a camouflage shirt while gesturing with a peace sign?)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Phantoms in Murphysboro State Park (or Phasma of the Optera)

Two members of the Family Phasmidae out for a stroll together at Murphysboro State Park
Secret Aging Man, known to my regular readers as SAM (if I still have any regular readers?), was quick to spot these two walking stick lovers out for their own kind of walk whilst we were taking our usual stroll at the park. I have been meaning to post about them since last month when I snapped the picture, but my thoughts of late have been preoccupied by weightier matters. Time for something light and fun, I decided this afternoon. "All walk and no write makes W2W a dull girl," you might say.

According to one site I found on the subject of walking sticks, the ladies of the species appear to have the upper hand (don't they always?) as far as reproduction goes. They can lay eggs that hatch without any help at all from their male companions. And of course, these eggs only produce females. Judging from these two specimens that we saw on our walk, parthenogenesis is the furthest thing from their little minds: Time to make some males or else the females will end up ruling the world! We can't have that happening, can we?

No, we wouldn't want those males to become "Phasma (phantoms) of the Optera." They are needed (and wanted) for various things from time to time, not the least of which includes accompanying those female walkers on long strolls through the park.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Merlin's Magicicadas

One of many 13-year Magicicadas recently heard and spied at Murphysboro State Park

...Blameless master of the games,
King of sport that never shames,
He shall daily joy dispense
Hid in song's sweet influence.
Things more cheerly live and go,
What time the subtle mind
Sings aloud the tune whereto
Their pulses beat,
And march their feet,
And their members are combined...

--(from Merlin (I) by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1846)--

The "daily joy" I find while walking in nearby woods or working in the garden has a beat of its own, a rhythm of life that is so invigorating it cannot be ignored or silenced by fear or dread or "change" of anything that modern society seems intent on smothering us with. The sound of the Magicicada, when many "members are combined" may be annoying to some people, but SAM and I somehow find the "tune whereto their pulses beat" an affirmation of eternity, of periodicity, of inexplicable magic, of life itself. I hope you hear and feel their "song's sweet influence" just as clearly:


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Climate Change and Gearing Up for the Next Heave-Ho: It's Turtles All the Way Down, You Know!

Grow fast, little turtle! You've got a big job ahead of you!
'After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, William James was accosted by a little old lady.
"Your theory that the sun is the centre of the solar system, and the earth is a ball which rotates around it has a very convincing ring to it, Mr. James, but it's wrong. I've got a better theory," said the little old lady.
"And what is that, madam?" Inquired James politely.
"That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle,"
Not wishing to demolish this absurd little theory by bringing to bear the masses of scientific evidence he had at his command, James decided to gently dissuade his opponent by making her see some of the inadequacies of her position.
"If your theory is correct, madam," he asked, "what does this turtle stand on?"
"You're a very clever man, Mr. James, and that's a very good question," replied the little old lady, "but I have an answer to it. And it is this: The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him."
"But what does this second turtle stand on?" persisted James patiently.
To this the little old lady crowed triumphantly. "It's no use, Mr. James – it's turtles all the way down." '
—J. R. Ross, Constraints on Variables in Syntax 1967

"Men are making speeches... all over the country, but each expresses only the thought, or the want of thought, of the multitude. No man stands on truth. They are merely banded together as usual, one leaning on another and all together on nothing; as the Hindoos made the world rest on an elephant, and the elephant on a tortoise, and had nothing to put under the tortoise." 
      --Henry David Thoreau, journal entry, 4 May 1852--

"When you’re on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant. You plan for every contingency. And if you see storm clouds gathering, or dangerous shoals ahead, you don't sit back and do nothing. You take action — to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. And so, too, with climate change. Denying it, or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces...."
     --President Barack Obama, addressing the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2015 on May 20--

Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho!
Give us the oil, give us the gas
Give us the shells, give us the guns.
We'll be the ones to see them thru.
Give us the tanks, give us the planes.
Give us the parts, give us a ship.
Give us a hip hoo-ray!
And we'll be on our way.

Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!
It's a long, long way to go.
It's a long, long pull with our hatches full,
Braving the wind, braving the sea,
Fighting the treacherous foe;
Heave Ho! My lads, Heave Ho!
Let the sea roll high or low,
We can cross any ocean, sail any river.
Give us the goods and we'll deliver,
Damn the submarine!
We're the men of the Merchant Marine!

--Official Song of The U.S. Maritime Service 
Song of the Merchant Marine
Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho! 
Words and Music by Lieut. (jg) Jack Lawrence, USMS, 1943--

Monday, May 11, 2015

Withering Into Truth...About Maidenhair and Mandrake

SAM, don't sit under the ginkgo tree with anyone else but me!

The Coming of Wisdom with Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

(a poem by W. B. Yeats)


Now that the ginkgo (stinko) fruit produced last Autumn in the back yard has dried up, been raked up, and piled up in the corners of my mind yard, SAM and I can comfortably sit, soak up some afternoon sun this Spring when our work for the day is done, and possibly wither into truth. I daresay that we are working and living more wisely these days, and the ginkgo (maidenhair) tree may play a part in that supposition: SAM is able to work from home except when supervisory field work is required; we now live close enough to many amenities like the library, a small grocery, the bank, and a video store to walk to them; and I don't have to pay rent for my work space. Of course, I don't have many clients yet, but time and a few good referrals will take care of that shortage. I just need to make sure those future clients--if they arrive for the first time next Autumn--understand that ginkgo is just all right with me. In fact, it's more than all right. It's essential (as in oil extract), used for centuries as a medicine and dietary supplement (reputed for its positive effects on the circulatory and nervous systems), and loved by squirrels and birds--at least the ones locally--as a food source and nesting habitat.

American mandrake (Podophyllum) seen at Murphysboro State Park
Besides admiring the ginkgo we have acquired along with our house, we have taken to walking around the lake at Murphysboro State Park, which is about a 5-mile, quite hilly stroll (though we have seen some youngsters take a run at it). The Mayapples, otherwise known as American mandrake, are among the first plants to pop up from last year's leaves and attract attention in the Spring. The picture above was taken several weeks ago, and the flowers that were so attractive then have now formed small "apples" or fruit that are barely visible beneath the large leaflets. This article about the Mayapple from WebMD suggests that some people (despite most medical advice to the contrary) still use these plants for various medicinal purposes. I have to wonder...

If Eve were Lilliputian in size, perhaps the Mayapple was the forbidden fruit she coaxed Adam to eat. After all, one of its common names is the Devil's Apple....