1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Digging in the Dirt of "Egypt's" Past

...By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,--
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,--
By the mountain--near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,--

The day after we moved in to our new place, our neighbors-next-door graciously offered to show us part of the lake we now call home from a boat owned by our landlord, a businessman in Chicago. We occupy the upstairs part of one of his two houses here. Our gracious neighbors live in the downstairs part of the other house. It's rather an unusual living arrangement, I will admit, but these times we live in sometimes call for unusual tactics. Our neighbors call Springfield home and own property there just as we still own a home in Florida. They have decided, as we have, not to sell in this dismal real estate market. We are trying to remain optimistic about the future. I took the picture above of a coal-fired electric plant across the lake from us as a representation of optimism. The people of this area have a longstanding acquaintance with downturns and so must constantly look forward to a brighter day. The power plant plays a key role in making that dream a reality by providing energy, cleanly and cheaply, from an abundant area resource--coal. Clean coal technology, employed by this recently modernized plant owned by Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, aims to reduce emissions, and--despite what some ardent critics of modern living choose to believe--it succeeds. The plant provides hundreds--if not thousands--of jobs in the area for miners, electricians, plant operators, administrative staff, truck drivers, and maintenance people.

By the gray woods,--by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,--
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,--
By each spot the most unholy--
In each nook most melancholy,--

I am thankful to have ready access to electricity. Without it, we would be left in the dark, feel darn cold here this time of year, and our bellies would not be filled with warm, home-cooked meals.

There the traveler meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past--
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by--
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the worms, and Heaven...

You may be wondering about the prevalence of Egyptian sounding names on these street signs. The area--variously known as Greater or Little Egypt, depending on the perspective--has an interesting, often dark, history. You know me. Like another blogger you should know by now--if you read the comments and follow their links--I feel compelled to dig a little into the history of a place, especially if it seems to be covered in some "dirt." My digging uncovered some online articles like this one by Jon Musgrave, who admits that there are differing opinions about the origin of the area's name--Egypt. I like the fact that there is no one single "right" or "wrong" answer to the question of origin. As one of my new blogger friends (hope it's all right to call him friend!) admits, even absolutes like temperature can sometimes be relative. History is no exception to that rule (?!), and the southern part of this Land of Lincoln has a lot of it--history, that is. Some of it involves things like massacres, and I'm not even referring to any involving Native Americans. Unions have played a large part in the region's dark past as well as in creating a bright future for many residents of this state--even newcomers like us. Oh wait. We aren't newcomers. Hubby was born and raised not far from where we live right now. His dad and grandfather were coal miners. Several members of his family are or were members of various unions. So you could say we have a stake in what happens to the natural resources so abundant in this region and so important to its future, as well as the future of this entire nation of workers.

Of course, here on the lake even hard workers find time to relax, and what could be more relaxing than casting a line and maybe even catching a few fish? Another one of my favorite bloggers has asked me to prepare and share some recipes for freshly caught lake fish after I asked her for her own fish curry recipe (you will need to read her comment section on that coral jasmine post to find it). Hubby would like to be doing some of this kind of casting about pictured above, but his boat--at least one as nice as this--will have to wait for some time in the future. We will learn to be content as bank or kayak fisher-people for a while. This blogger who likes to play in the dirt of history will be returning to school soon and working on her Master's degree in--what else?--Workforce Education and Development at Hubby's alma mater. I will eventually have an even bigger stake in the heart of this region known as "Egypt."

For the heart whose woes are legion
'T is a peaceful, soothing region--
For the spirit who walks in shadow
'T is--oh 't is an Eldorado!
But the traveler, traveling through it,
May not--dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills the King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses...

--from Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Dream-land," 1844--


  1. You take a post to a whole new level. It sounds like you have some lovely neighbors. Could we trade a few then? Love the lake and the fall colors. The only color here now is white.

  2. That's very intresting! I'm also thankful for electricity...what on earth would we do without it?

    I'm starting up a new meme for Fridays - Blooming Friday - it would be great if you would like to participate with one or two pictures of blooming plants. I thought it would be nice to share eye-candy for the week-end... Welcome!


  3. Yahoo on the grad school! You will have SO much fun and be able to make a difference in your region. And in hubby's alma mater too? I bet he likes that. I love the coal plant analogy.

    I do hope things turn up soon in the economy. Gas now $1.75 per gallon! Hard to believe as I never thought it would happen again.

    Absolutes? Robert does a good job with those. And I am betting Kanak will like the fish recipes too. Thanks for the link:)

    Your neighbors are real jewels to take you out on the boat. And you know what, I'm with you I seem to remember at one time, the best boat is the one someone else owns! Hubby doesn't agree though.

    Love the song as it was one of my favorites back in the 80s (I think) when it came out. It sure goes with little Egypt. A neat area! ttyl

  4. Interesting post. I enjoyed Poe's poem.

  5. Michelle, I hope it reads at several levels. Your posts seem that way to me. Do you like your new site now? I hope it's working all right for you. I remember Frances was a little worried when she switched from Blogger to WordPress, but it seems to be a great "canvas" for her work. Each one has its advantages as well as disadvantages, I suppose.

    Katarina, thanks for thinking of me for the meme, but I probably would not be a regular participant, at least not for a while. I'm still getting established here and have not planted anything yet. I also don't have a greenhouse/coldframe, and I'm seriously low on houseplants right now. I have one!

    Thanks, Tina! That song is good for something, anyway. I like to do a little dance sideways down the hallway when I get up from the computer to start chores or answer the doorbell. Wonder if the chiropractor would approve of my new exercise routine? The economy? I think it started to go south when they took home economics out of school. Maybe it's time to bring back those lessons on cooking, sewing, gardening, and checkbook balancing. We will all need new/improved survival skills in this brave, new world of ours. Yeah, Hubby doesn't think I notice, but I see a certain glint in his eye whenever he hears a boat on the lake, and he starts to tremble with anticipation...

    Marnie, glad you liked it. When I read the poem for the first time yesterday, I thought "How does he know? Has he been here before?" You can always count on Poe to point out the darkness. Kinda helps you wish for the light even more!

  6. Hi W2W, so the song was there for the Egypt theme? So clever of you. My daughter chickenpoet did a solo dance to that song in 6th grade when we were living in Southern Ca. I made a costume for it and had fun with the Cleopatra eye make. We have it on tape, luckily. I completely agree with the electric plant's contributions to your area, what would we do indeed? And a big fan of Poe, too. About the switch to wordpress from blogger, I am quite happy with it now. It has taught me many things, or rather made me learn many new things, always good, no matter your age.

  7. Oh gosh I have walked like an Egyptian but that was oh so many moons ago! Not sure the Margaritas would even get me to do that one again! :)

    So I am a history source of yours hummmmm, We over at In the Garden aim to educate. lol Thanks for the linking you doll you…

    Speaking of educate, Your going back to School? You Go Girl! Make us proud and save this earth we love so much...

    I do love my heat especially with that record breaking 26 degrees yesterday! Burrrrrr...

  8. Just talked to my brother in Chicago...It's COLD up there...How does a Florida girl survive?

    Your street sign reminded me of my old neighborhood in San Francisco...I lived on Muncih, between Persian and Brazil...I always felt quite cosmopolitan...

    BTW, my job is to monitor water resource issues for a private organization...It's in that capacity that I interact with Swiftmud...But on the good side, I've got a grant to create educational materials on water-conserving landscaping practices, so I'm not all evil

  9. Frances, do you play the tape at family gatherings like we usually do (at least once a year) with our kids' tapes? We finally had to have the tapes transferred to a DVD (not cheap, either) because the VHS tapes were becoming brittle and starting to break. I'm glad we spared no expense. Oh, I miss Michael Crichton for lines like that, God rest his soul! The only thing I don't like to see on the recordings is me as I change hairstyles each year, which seemed stylish back then but look ridiculous now. Glad the WordPress is working for you. I might consider going that route one of these days. Thanks for the visit!

    Skeeter, save the earth? Not sure I can do that, but I might be able to help save a few jobs someday. Won't be any earth left if everyone gets laid off. Everyone will be crying so hard, Water World will become a reality. I'm glad you found out about the red wine. It works for me! Also glad you don't mind the link. You are the first person I thought of for it. We'll expect a full report next year on your many trips to state parks, you lucky girl!

  10. Hi, BeeDancer! I never said anything about evil. Maybe it's the Poe. Landscaping? Water-conserving? You are welcome here anytime. So Mr. S's codename is SwiftMud? Interesting! This FL girl does not like cold at all, but the dim memories of it are beginning to return with a vengeance and chill her to the bone. Gives her an excuse to eat more. Ha!

  11. Lovely lake and fall leaves. Trust you to find a neighborhood with a colorful history. I've been thinking about Egypt too. I'm reading an interesting memoir: Sipping From the Nile: my Exodus from Egypt by Jean Naggar. I'll be reviewing in next week. Fun to have that overlap between our blogs. I'm happy to hear you settled in your new home. Lucky you to have fresh caught fish.

  12. Sarah, I hope Stella has been forgiven. She looked contrite, anyway. I will have to look for that book and your review next week. No fish yet, unfortunately. Soon as we catch some, I'll post, for sure. Right now, I'm taking a break from watching SIU's basketball team, the Salukis (Egyptian dogs), play Duke University in a garden--Madison Square Garden. The game is on ESPN-2, if anyone out there is interested. Go Dawgs!

  13. Congratulations on your return to grad school, W2W! That sounds like a good field to get into.

    I will have to read the link about Cairo and Little Egypt's past later; I always assumed the name Little Egypt came from Cairo, but am intrigued to find out more now.

    People in this part of Illinois are hoping that the new administration will reinstate plans for the FutureGen plant just a little south of us, which was to produce electricity through clean coal, too. It was all set to begin, then the Bush administration stopped it. It's time we look at other alternatives, even though gas prices might be lower now.

    In these economic times, I don't blame you for not wanting to put your house on the market. And we're all doing things a little differently to get by.

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  15. Another very interesting read W2W. The lake looks serene and beautiful. And Poe's lines are worth reading over and over again.

    Thank you for mentioning me...that was so sweet of you!

    Reading American blogs (and slices of history) reminds me of long bygone days at school where we not only drew the U.S. map but had to fill in all the 50 states and capitals. I loved it because I found the names so fascinating! But now, 'talking' to my blogger friends in states as varied as in the maps we drew has taken 'fascinating' to another level-- one that I love and will forever cherish!

    Congrats on getting back to school soon!

  16. Hi, Rose, and thank you. I had heard about the FutureGen debacle when I first moved back here in January. This morning's local paper (the had an article buried on the fifth page about another plant in the works for Taylorville. Seems a Nebraska company wanted (and just got) legislative help in getting financing for its project. Illinois plans to spend $18 million to help the company construct a feasibility "study." We are talking building a plan here, not a plant. Hmmm. $18 million for a plan. Blago has not signed the bill yet, which was just passed with no dissenting votes. Things like that get me fired up. Why should the taxpayers fund a study? Let the company fund it, by gumbo. When we owned a business and needed new equipment, did we commission a study? No, we sat down, studied the books, put our heads together, said a little prayer, and took a chance. Business (capitalism) is all about taking chances, or should be. We had no safety net of a government bailout or subsidies to cushion a fall. Rose, you're right about alternatives. Now that oil prices have taken another dive, though, companies that were finding it profitable to research alternatives are no longer enjoying that margin of comfort. No more demand now that gas is cheap again. Tough luck for them and for all of us. Oh well. Maybe those SUVs clogging auto dealers' lots will literally fly out of there now and help out the sagging auto industry. Gotta look at the bright side.

    "Nancy," thanks for spamming me. Guess I'll have to replace the word recognition feature. Aargh! Capitalism!

    Kanak, thank you and you're welcome! It sounds like your country's educational system is way more progressive than ours. When I was a schoolkid a long time ago, I can remember finding India on a map, but we never had to study anything else about its states, culture, government, etc. How sad. This country has been steadily slipping into its current bog of "misfortune" for decades. Do you suppose too much optimism/self-centeredness/egotism and not enough realism/sacrifice/humility may be to blame? Is there such a thing as too much optimism?

  17. I'm not sure, but I think it's safe to say that coal is an important part of Pennsylvania's economy. Unfortunately, the state has had problems with runoff from old mines leaching into streams, creeks, and rivers.

    Good luck with school. I see a masters in education in my future.

  18. Thanks, TC, for braving the "storm" above and leaving a comment. I should know by now that I do not need to be blogging immediately after reading the newspaper or watching CNN. Maybe working the crossword puzzle first would help me choose my words more carefully. I am glad you're not afraid to take a big step into my sticky conversation. It is difficult to be confident, optimistic, or whatever you want to call it about industries that have or may yet cause harm to the environment. I don't know what the answer is. I just like asking questions. How will this country continue without somehow tapping into the resources it already has, and I mean human as well as natural? Don't people need to work in order to feed, clothe, and shelter their families? Where is the work going to come from? McDonald's? Wal-Mart? I'm happy for you that you see a Master's degree in your future, TC. You're already a great teacher, and you'll become even better. One reason I like your blog and comments so much is that I always learn something from them, and it usually has to do with my lack of humility. Maybe you should be a preacher instead of a teacher? ;>}

  19. W2W, from the eastern perspective, there's enough reason for too much optimism. There's so much of perfection and prosperity and'll be hard NOT to be optimistic, even overly so.

    As for Geog. lessons, it's no longer the same for the current generation. My children do not share my passion for places!

  20. Just wanted to jump over here and say Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family....

    I will be out and about for a bit but will be back soon....:-)

  21. Oh, I just had to come back over here and hear that song again. I needed some exercise ya know. Thanks for assisting me. tee hee...

  22. Kanak, I've owned businesses in the past with my husband, so experience has taught me that our enthusiasm will eventually be tempered by things we can't control. I've come to expect it, and I'm trying to learn from it instead of losing my cool/sanity/health. Part of that learning has directed me to your side of the world and its perspective in ways I never would have imagined before. I still look for the best in everything and everyone, but I'm trying to exercise more caution in my decisions. Maybe the time spent in the Sunshine State has changed the hue of my glasses to a deeper shade of rose. You know, your blog is the most excellent way I know to share your passion with your kids. If they read it, they will begin to understand other cultures as well as their own far better than they ever could from a geography book or lesson. Thanks for taking the time to comment again.

  23. Thanks, Skeeter, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well. Are you referring to "Roustabout" or that sideways, Cleopatra thing? Speaking of which, I need to mosey on down the hallway and sweep the floor, finish the laundry, empty the dishwasher, post a note on the fridge... ;>}

  24. I do appreciate my electricity. Glad someone is helping to produce it.
    Your lake looks lovely.
    We are planning a trip to Egypt next year - the one in Africa, not Illinois.

  25. Mom, I look forward to hearing about your Egyptian travels. Take lots of pictures and try to keep a daily journal of your impressions, even if you can't blog about them right away. Thanks for visiting!