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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Grande Lady

Trillium grandiflorum

A view of the lodge and part of the park from the water tower.

We had another Saturday fit for hiking, and this time we chose a familiar, yet never-the-same haunt, Giant City State Park near Carbondale, Illinois. The students at nearby Southern Illinois University still frequent this park but seem to have more respect for its beauty and tranquillity than formerly. I speak from experience with the past trend, having attended SIU in the late 70s and then again in the mid 90s. My husband majored in geology and graduated in 1980. He still remembers (with fondness?) the wild parties hosted by the Geology Club, when pigs were roasted and beer-on-tap flowed freely. Fortunately, the rules governing alcohol consumption in the park have changed somewhat to protect innocent nature and not-so-innocent students, some of them having lost--in deep wells of beer--a healthy respect for high places.

You can't be too careful when hiking atop these moss-covered sandstone bluffs. One misstep and you'd better hope your companion has a cell phone handy to call 9-1-1.

We never tire of visiting the lodge (pictured at top) to enjoy its still-famous AYCE fried chicken dinner or of trudging our way up the water tower--better to do this before rather than after dinner--to take in a view of the park all at once. Once the food settled a bit (we never learn), we chose the Trillium trail for a hike and were glad that we did. Those beauties, Trillium grandiflorum, are beginning to open up in great drifts across the forest floor and take center stage, as far as I'm concerned, among the myriad of other wildflowers present this time of year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Structure and Texture

I wanted to plop myself down and sit a spell on this fellow's lap (he had a great view of some camellias), but we had just begun our walk through the Linnean House, and people were behind us on the path.

Isn't this ballerina a graceful accent for the tulip bed?

I hope you enjoy these highlights of our visit this past weekend to the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. The mosaic sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle in the gardens really captured our attention and added a new dimension to our stroll through familiar territory. As you can see, people were encouraged to really "get into" the art. I only wish we could have been photographing our grandson instead of a bunch of strangers. He is still in Florida. I'll be seeing you soon, Micah!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Every Day Is a New Path

We traveled a trail new to us yesterday afternoon in the Wayne Fitzgerrell Park at Rend Lake. There aren't many visitors yet this time of year. Walking among the many still-bare trees, the only sounds we heard for a while were squirrels scampering around and the moaning, creaking noise that tall trees make when the wind is moving through their tops. The scene might have seemed kind of melancholy were it not for the fat buds we spied on some sycamore trees, which seemed ready to literally pop open with fresh greenness. Before you know it, the litter of leaves will hardly be noticeable, and the park will once more be filled with families enjoying an outing at the lake.

I came across a poem today that expresses perfectly my motivation for starting on the path to a new career. It's too long to include all of it, so here is an excerpt:

I Shall Not Pass This Way Again: A Symphony

by Eva Rose York

I shall not pass this way again;

Then let me now relieve some pain,

Remove some barrier from the road,

Or brighten some one's heavy load;

A helping hand to this one lend,

Then turn some other to befriend.

O God, forgive

That now I live

As if I might, sometime, return

To bless the weary ones that yearn

For help and comfort every day,--

For there be such along the way.

O God, forgive that I have seen

The beauty only, have not been

Awake to sorrow such as this;

That I have drunk the cup of bliss

Remembering not that those there be

Who drink the dregs of misery.

I love the beauty of the scene,

Would roam again o'er fields so green;

But since I may not, let me spend

My strength for others to the end,--

For those who tread on rock and stone,

And bear their burdens all alone,

Who loiter not in leafy bowers,

Nor hear the birds nor pluck the flowers...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Nimbys Here!

A walk in the community park yesterday offered a feast for the eyes and food for thought. A relic from the past offers a reminder that the beauty we treasure now in the park was once funded by a thriving fossil-fuel industry in this area. Coal and oil at one time provided high-paying jobs and a healthy tax base that now must be collected as exorbitant property and fuel taxes from already financially strapped citizens. Rising global consumption and an alarming lack of any energy policy in this country have presented all of us with a dilemma that can no longer be ignored. We cannot expect to continue enjoying our activities of daily life--gardening, traveling, playing baseball, whatever--without interruption unless something is done soon to create a reasonable policy, one that does not penalize the oil, gas, and coal industries. Rather, they should be encouraged to explore for and refine fossil fuels in the short term as well as research and develop renewable energy sources for the long term. Wishing for things to get better does not make it happen. We can all garden and live more conservatively, but we can also demand that our leaders (local, state, national) pay more than just lip service to mapping out and implementing an energy plan.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Since I helped out at the no-kill, local animal shelter yesterday (, I thought I would post pictures of my kitties in Florida. We started volunteering at the shelter on Sundays because I needed a "cat fix" and we wanted an alternative to attending church service. There aren't too many places around here open on Sundays to accommodate volunteers. We can't have a cat here in Illinois for the simple fact that we are living temporarily in an apartment generously provided free-of-charge by my husband's employer. Besides, two cats already stretch the limits of my husband's patience with vet bills and cat mischief. Both of our cats, Miss Kitty and Peanut (actually our daughter's cat), were strays. We got Miss Kitty from another shelter in Illinois back in 1992, and Sarah found the kitten Peanut a year ago living beneath the building where she worked as a massage therapist. I can't show you a photo of both cats together because Miss Kitty cannot abide being close to the young'un long enough for me to take a picture. I'm glad that Peanut came into our life, rascal though she is. She keeps Miss Kitty in good condition for her age and feisty enough to chase after her.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If you are just about anywhere in the Midwest today, chances are you are indoors contemplating the rain-soaked garden outside instead of working in it. I hope that some more pictures from our hike at Devil's Kitchen this past Sunday will brighten your day. What a difference just a few days make in the weather! Note the milky appearance of the water in the runoff creek below the dam. Quite a bit of sediment is being carried downstream to eventually enrich someone's garden or farm field. It will take several weeks of dry weather for the sediment to settle and for the water to clear. Springs feed into the lake itself and keep its deep waters cold enough for even trout to thrive in the hot summer weather this area usually enjoys.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Favorite Recreation

I forget my resolve not to move back permanently to southern Illinois when I get to spend time in places like this one. My husband and I spent a gorgeous Sunday afternoon exploring a trail near Devil's Kitchen Lake in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. You just do not find places in Florida with all of these interesting rock formations. The wildflowers we found along the trail were spectacular. My pictures cannot adequately depict their delicate beauty.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Here is another picture of our backyard in Florida. As you can see, I have a lot of work to do on landscaping. So far, I've been concentrating on flower beds close to the house and the pool because they are easier to water. We have an acre and no irrigation system (yet), so as you can imagine, it is quite a chore to water everything when rain is scarce. The crape myrtle you see just beyond the pool enclosure was planted by the previous owners. It's a little temperamental in the summer, getting some kind of lichen growing on the bark. A couple of years ago, it began to lose its leaves during the middle of summer, and I thought it was a goner. I mixed up a batch of essential oils including lavender, lemongrass, melaleuca, and a blend of oils called Thieves in a spray bottle with water and doused the whole tree. After a few days, whatever fungus was attacking it disappeared, and the tree recovered. Now if I could just find something that would discourage the fire ants which constantly plague us!

Knowing More Through Gnomons

After searching for blogs about gardening and writing today, I came across one at with a posting regarding gnomons. The posting got me to thinking about a student presentation I gave for a math class (for liberal arts majors) in 2007:

What is a Gnomon?

Though gnomon is a Greek term meaning "that which allows one to know," and refers most often to the vertical pin on a sundial, invented by the Greek Anaximander sometime around 575 B.C., it originates from a more ancient and primitive Egyptian instrument, the merkhet, a sun clock first used about 2000 B. C. to measure the passage of time. The ancient Greeks translated merkhet, meaning "instrument of knowledge" to the word gnomon, which also stood for the L-shaped piece of metal that casts a shadow on a sundial. Greek intellectuals were familiar with Egyptian arts and sciences because they traveled frequently to Egypt and studied with Egyptian priests, who had preserved centuries of information on scrolls and stone tablets. The Greeks (according to Midhat Gazale, author of Gnomon: from Pharaohs to Fractals), "stood on the shoulders of Egyptian and Mesopotamian giants" to build on or expand the Egyptians' knowledge of many things, including geometry.

By studying geometric similarities, the ancient Greeks observed some interesting properties about certain numbers. They were obsessed with looking for a theory which could unify different branches of knowledge and thought they had discovered something truly magical about the way geometric shapes can be expanded in a particular way without losing their original structure.

For instance, when observing that 1+3=4, 4+5=9, 9+7=16. . ., they were fascinated by the fact that sequentially adding an odd number to a square number resulted in another square number and so on, and they could depict this phenomenon geometrically by adding an L-shape, or gnomon, to the original square. Mathematicians today like Gazale, following in the footsteps of his Egyptian ancestors in wanting to know the seemingly unknowable, study these and other figurate numbers and apply their properties to such things as the calculation of surds, logarithmic spirals, and silver pentagons.

The gnomon's ambiguity, or alternate meanings, seems to have appealed to other intellectuals, including literary figures such as James Joyce, the author of Dubliners, which is a collection of short stories based on people in his hometown. He introduces the term gnomon in the first story "The Sisters," as something a boy remembers from having studied the Euclid. The boy seems unsure of its meaning, but the very sound of it intrigues him. In the rest of the stories, the gnomon may be seen to represent dead people, who are shades or shadows of the people once alive. They add subtle meaning, texture, and clarity to the text, with its odd and often confusing characters, somehow squaring it up and expanding our understanding of Joyce's perspective.

My interest in the gnomon, I must confess, comes not from its mathematical application but rather a literary one. I learned from reading the Dubliners to look for the oddity in a story, the unexpected, perhaps even just a simple gesture which seems peculiar but speaks volumes about the character displaying it. For example, in recently re-reading Wuthering Heights, a novel I have read many times over the years, I noticed for the first time that, from the outset, the character Heathcliff sticks his hand in his coat, a gesture familiar to us as Napoleon's characteristic pose. I expanded upon that one enigmatic, L-shaped gesture to write a 10-page research paper for a Victorian Lit class. I believe that Emily Bronte's reading audience in the mid-1800s would have instantly recognized that pose and made the connection to Napoleon because, even though dead by that time, his name was constantly in the news and on the minds of many people. His nephew, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, was vying for control of France, and the British were still reeling from the effects of their battles with his uncle's army. The year 1848, when Bronte's book was first published, saw Louis reentering French politics, and four years later he declared himself Emperor Napoleon III. Emily's little book, though originally published under a male pseudonym and after her death, eventually established her credibility among her mostly male peers and critics, perhaps because of her shrewd grasp of how to make the unknowable known.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What Our House in Florida Looks Like

Although it might seem from my previous blogs that I live in Florida right now, I don't. We moved to Illinois in December so my husband could begin a new job. I really am not fond of Illinois anymore after having lived in the Sunshine State for a number of years, but I am willing to become a part-time resident (hopefully in the summer). That scenario is only likely if my husband's employer agrees for him to work part-time in Florida and in Illinois. After I become a licensed massage therapist, I suppose that I will seek licensure in both states and try to practice in both. If (and I emphasize if) things work out the way we hope (and God wills), I can enjoy the best of both worlds. Southern Illinois really is beautiful in the spring and autumn when all of the trees are strutting their blooms and then colors. Still, Florida brings a smile to my face everytime I get to return there. The people seem happier (no disrespect intended to the folks in SI), at least when there are no hurricanes imminent or recent, and the winter weather is fabulous.