per·i·pa·tet·ic
ˌperēpəˈtedik/
adjective
  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.
    Aristotelian.
noun
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From the Guileless to the Gullible



My grief, quoth I, is called Ignorance,
Which makes me differ little from a brute,
For animals are led by nature's lore,
Their seeming science is but custom's fruit;
When they are hurt they have a sense of pain,
But want the sense to cure themselves again.
And ever since this grief did me oppress,
Instinct of nature is my chiefest guide.
I feel disease, yet know not what I ail,
I find a sore, but can no salve provide;
I hungry am, yet cannot seek for food,
Because I know not what is bad or good...
...Great Alexander made so great account,
Of Knowledge, that he oftentimes would say,
That he to Aristotle was more bound
For Knowledge, upon which Death could not prey,
Than to his father Phillip for his life,
Which was uncertain, irksome, full of strife....

--from "A Dream" by Rachel Speght, 1621--

I did not take the picture of Micah with the gull. I think it was taken by either my son or daughter-in-law, who e-mailed it to me this week. I forgot to ask who the photographer was. It's a spectacular picture, either way. He looks like he is so close to it that he could hop on and take flight with the bird. Things have a way of fooling adults, who really should know better. My grandmother (dad's mom) was reported to say that babies know everything there is to know about heaven and earth until the moment they say the word "rock." After that moment, they have to relearn everything they have forgotten. I'm not sure where Grandma's theory of learning originated. Maybe it's a fusion of the Platonic versus Aristotelian theories, the nature versus nurture debate that has been going on for centuries and can be found in religious as well as secular writings.



Do not be fooled into thinking this beautiful red plant is harmless. TC (The Write Gardener) knows exactly what it is from experience. His tabula, if it ever was rasa, now contains a lot of writing about this plant since first becoming acquainted with it.


Hubby and I spent a lot of time outdoors this past weekend in Southern Illinois. Kinkaid Lake near Murphysboro, Illinois, holds a lot of memories for us. We used to take a boat to this part of the lake and dive for little trinkets, sometimes even finding gold rings and other jewelry. Young people--usually inebriated--are known to congregate in this part of the lake during the hot summer months and sometimes shed more than just their jewelry. This picture of the dam and spillway makes the spot look fairly harmless, at least this time of year. Probably after today, the dry side of the dam will look anything but dry. It has been raining steadily all day, and it doesn't take long for the lake to fill up from the surrounding hillside runoff.


When we lived nearby, there were frequent reports of slips, falls, broken limbs, and even drownings in the lake and particularly on or around the spillway.



I guess the natural beauty of the area is irresistible to most people who either don't know or choose to forget the natural danger always present there.


Hubby and I picked a good day to explore the spillway. We could choose our path on the rocks, carefully avoiding the ever-present slippery spots and pools of water.



After climbing up the spillway and crossing the barrier fence at the top, we walked on top of the dam to reach another path that might not seem readily apparent to anyone unfamiliar with the area. The Kinkaid Lake trail is all but forgotten, and it seems to be an intended outcome. Concrete barricades block most access, and signs--if they ever were in place--are no longer available to point the way.



To seasoned hikers and former residents like us, a lack of signage is no problem.




We found the trail and a view of the lake from a bluff high above it.




I thought for a moment that I had found some more gold treasure, but this time it was hidden in the trunk of a tree. The memories must have really been working overtime at this point on our hike. Of course, there is treasure in this fungus, if you care to think of it as a valuable, renewable resource on this planet, slowly doing its work of decomposing living matter.



I guess Hubby felt like he had to prove his youthful vitality after finding the fungus. You will never find moss growing on this rolling stone. Maybe fungus, though. We all have it in our bodies in some form or other. Lovely thought, hmm?




The day after visiting Kinkaid Lake, we took a shorter walk at Rend Lake and found this sign greeting us at the beginning of the bike trail. We have been warned, and now we know what that little sign on the trail we saw earlier this year was all about. I like to think that knowledge is power and a way for the imagination to take flight.

Seagulls, as you know, never falter, never stall. To stall in the air is for them disgrace and it is dishonor. But Jonathan Livingston Seagull, unashamed, stretching his wings again in that trembling hard curve--slowing, slowing, and stalling once more--was no ordinary bird. Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight--how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly. This kind of thinking, he found, is not the way to make one's self popular with other birds...
--from Richard Bach's novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull--



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Walking Man--Tis Not, What Once It Was, the World


video

...Why should of all things man unruled

Such unproportioned dwellings build?

The beasts are by their dens exprest,

And birds contrive an equal nest;

The low-roofed tortoises do dwell

In cases fit of tortoise-shell:

No creature loves an empty space;

Their bodies measure out their place.

But he, superfluously spread,

Demands more room alive than dead;

And in his hollow palace goes

Where winds as he themselves may lose.

What need of all this marble crust

T' impark the wanton mote of dust,

That thinks by breadth the world t' unite

Though the first builders failed in height?...

--from Andrew Marvell's Upon Appleton House, 1651--

I wonder sometimes why we humans feel like we need bigger and better buildings--or anything else for that matter--when nature provides ample evidence of why living lean is better. The praying mantis I found at Rend Lake merely molts when it begins to grow too large for its exoskeleton. Well, since we have endoskeletons, molting might not work very well for us. Nevertheless, this living-large syndrome seems to have gotten a lot of us (at least Americans) into financial trouble. Maybe we should all emulate the example of this motivated biped, The Walking Man, who relies on the kindness of strangers for most of his needs and rests his head at the end of the day wherever he happens to run out of steam. Or, maybe not.

And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long, that they have come to esteem what they call the soul's progress, namely, the religious, learned, and civil institutions, as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other, by what each has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, ashamed of what he has, out of new respect for his being. Especially, he hates what he has, if he sees that it is accidental--came to him by inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him, has no root in him, and merely lies there, because no revolution or no robber takes it away. But that which a man is, does always by necessity acquire, and what the man acquires is permanent and living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers, or mobs, or revolutions, or fire, or storm, or bankruptcies, but perpetually renews itself wherever the man is put. "Thy lot or portion of life,' said the Caliph Ali, "is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it."

--from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance, 1841--

...'Tis not, what it once was, the World,

But a rude heap together hurled;

All negligently overthrown,

Gulfs, deserts, precipices, stone.

Your lesser World contains the same...

--Upon Appleton House--

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Face the Future--Conserve Energy, Inherit the World, and Become a Saprophyte!



Tapwell: But to my story.
You were then a lord of acres, the prime gallant,
And I your under-butler. Note the change now.
You had a merry time of it--hawks and hounds,
With choice of running horses, mistresses,
Of all sorts and all sizes--yet so hot
As their embraces made your lordships melt,
Which your uncle, Sir Giles Overreach, observing,
Resolving not to lose a drop of 'em
On foolish mortgages, statutes, and bonds,
For a while supplied your looseness, and then left you.

Wellborn: Some curate hath penned this invective, mongrel,
And you have studied it.

Tapwell: I have not done yet.
Your land gone, and your credit not worth a token,
You grew the common borrower; no man scaped
Your paper pellets, from the gentleman
To the beggars on highways, that sold you switches
In your gallantry...

--from Phillip Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts, 1633--

Foraging, it seems, has become fashionable for some people, with more dollars than sense, though their harvest can turn out to be deadly instead of healthy. Is it hard times or just wanting to "go green" that inspires even some wealthy ones among us to act foolishly? Perhaps they think they are godlike in their ability to avoid financial disaster or to summon immediate, expert medical attention, but even they will eventually succumb to the supreme masters of the universe, the lords of the Kingdom Fungi. We are familiar with some royal members of that kingdom by virtue of their fruiting phase, the mushrooms, which thrive in the woods, in our lawns, and in our gardens. These saprophytes, as they are known to biologists, perform important tasks in the environment and really do more good than harm, as long as nature neophytes are wise enough to leave them alone. Mushrooms require little energy to grow or reproduce, and they offer themselves as interesting subjects for observation. The Fishing Guy photo-captured a squirrel devouring a delicious looking fungus but recommends, with good reason, being very cautious about consuming mushrooms found in the wild. Even though a squirrel seems to find them appetizing and can eat them without apparent ill effects, humans are more susceptible to their mycotoxins and cannot expect the same results. We might not be able to consume them all, but we will all--even the rich and famous--become food for them someday.




Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On"



...Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep...





--from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, 4.1--




Last Saturday, Hubby and I decided to revisit some old stomping grounds we have trod many times over the years. We drove to Carbondale and stopped for a late lunch at Melange, formerly just a coffeehouse and now a delightful little bistro with outdoor seating and a fragrant herb garden. It serves up a reasonably priced menu quite different from the usual college-town fare of pizza and subs. Among other things, it includes a variety of tapas (served after 4 p.m., I believe), bison burgers (meat supplied locally), and herb-flavored cocktails.


Since we had both filled up on the 1/2-pound bison burgers and sweet potato fries (freshly cut and prepared with a tempura batter), instead of taking to the Campus Lake trail at SIU, we decided to try tooling around the lake in a paddleboat. We would still get some exercise but at a more leisurely, sit-down kind of pace. Besides, renting one only costs a dollar per hour. That is cheap entertainment for low-budget people like us.


Hubby let me take the pictures so he could man the rudder, or whatever that thing that steers the boat is called.

Several of the student residence halls surround the lake. I asked Hubby if he had ever wanted to live in one of them. He responded with a resounding "never." The students who lived around the lake had a reputation for extreme partying, and he was a serious student. When I met him, he was seriously considering either changing his major (geology) or dropping out of school. I convinced him to stick with it, and I guess he is thankful now that he did.


We did not see too many people out on the lake or anywhere else on campus and wondered if the students were on some sort of break. It's hard to believe that they could be holed up in their rooms or in the library studying on such a beautiful day.

The resident ducks were sure enjoying the day and didn't seem to mind sharing the lake with us.



I guess our stamina ain't what it used to be, and we headed back to the dock before the hour was even up. The day was rather warm, and Hubby was looking a bit done-in. He had only a few hours of sleep the previous night and was expecting to pull an all-nighter at the drilling rig.


I like to see that the campus landscapers are including some color and variety in their plantings. When we attended school here in the late 70s, the campus was a showplace. My dad told me that Delyte Morris, president of the school from 1948 to 1970, was largely responsible for making sure that many beautiful trees, flower beds, and winding trails from which to admire them would grace the campus. I would bet that his wife had some input on that decision.


I think I mentioned that I remember goldenrod, or Solidago, growing on campus. I did find some right next to the lake. According to my Essential Oils Desk Reference, goldenrod has throughout the ages been relied upon for its usefulness as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, and liver stimulant. Historically, it even played a role in the colonists' resistance to British taxation. When English tea was dumped in Boston Harbor during the famous Boston Tea Party, colonists drank goldenrod tea to fill the gap, and it earned the nickname "Liberty Tea." I wonder if the name also had something to do with its diuretic properties besides aiding in the quest for freedom from government intervention.



Historically, SIU has seen its fair share of important people too, including R. Buckminster Fuller. His work in design revolutionized humans' potential for creating affordable housing. He had some wonderful ideas and even tried to live by them. In 1960, he built a prototype Geodesic dome house in Carbondale that he and his wife lived in while he taught design at SIU. The dome pictured above is based loosely on his design, providing shelter for picnickers (and sometimes amorous college students), as well as reminding campus visitors of SIU's one-time connection to a genuine genius. According to one site I found, Bucky's dream for the liberation of the mortgage-strapped homeowner was doomed by design. Apparently, "the steady growth of the multi-national-corporate system was working against him. People were indebted to the system and could not afford to support ideas that cut across the grain of the mainstream society being developed in America at that time. Domes were springing up everywhere, but their mainstream acceptance was thwarted when mortgage and insurance companies failed to offer products to serve the growing dome home market. Unions disliked buildings that went up in one or two days; it was better for the workers when it took six weeks to put up a house." Several articles I've read blame unrest (Vietnam War and civil rights) at SIU-C in the late 60s for Bucky's decision to leave campus and shift his work elsewhere, but I wonder if the locally lukewarm, or perhaps hostile, reception for his ideas convinced him to move. A certain "backward" presence in Southern Illinois may account for what appears to be intimidation to outsiders and forward thinkers.


Strangely enough, Bucky's notion of doing "so much with so little" to create sturdy, affordable housing has taken a strange twist with the latest attempt to preserve his very own prototypical home. Fundraising efforts are underway right now to save the deteriorating home in Carbondale and maintain it as a monument to his genius. According to the dedicated people involved in the preservation efforts, only 350,000 dollars is needed to save the home from certain demise. I'm sure Bucky would not be so appreciative of those efforts. He would probably prefer that more dome homes be built in his honor.

Or maybe he would prefer that the neglected agriculture department at SIU receive some kind of new home, dome-like if possible. This building looked old and dilapidated when we were students in the late 70s. I guess the powers that be think most of the students are outdoors most of the time anyway. What do they need with a new building?



As Hubby and I continued our walk around campus, we came upon an interesting sculpture in front of one of the Life Science buildings. I guess it's supposed to represent life. I'm not sure.

The communications building design seems to communicate a lack of imagination.

At least there are signs now to point the way to confused campus visitors. In the old days, you might be lucky to get a hand-drawn map from your student advisor.

Now this garden looks a little more like a representation of life to me. Click on it to find out who's responsible.


Please don't think I'm a total troglodyte. I do appreciate art and particularly sculpture. Hubby and I found these sculptures quite handy as backrests when sitting outside on nice days to study notes or just stare into each other's eyes.

We were "here" too, Mr. Vergette. I'm glad you had the vision to create something meaningful.

The campus is still quite beautiful, almost park-like in appearance.


Pulliam Hall is one of its landmark buildings with a functioning clock tower.


Morris Library, named for SIU's most productive president, promises to become a world-class learning center. I thought it already was. Maybe its long-awaited coffee bar now under construction will help it become even better.


A corner garden (no credit given) brightens an otherwise drab concrete walkway that leads to another old and somewhat dilapidated building on campus. Judging from the shape and design of its windows, you can probably guess that it has some kind of connection to either the arts...



...or religion. If you consider the condition of the buildings, you can probably guess that both of those venerable pursuits seem to be poorly funded now at this forward-thinking campus.

Altgeld Hall is the most unique building on campus and is home to the music department. Though I have not been inside it for quite some time, I found a site that explores an inner sanctum there and in other buildings that was never accessible to me, or to any other female for that matter.

This building across the street from Altgeld shatters the vision of artistic achievement previously in sight.


We used to call it Pro-Faner Hall, for obvious reasons. It's an ugly, concrete monstrosity.

It's a rabbit's warren of confusion, and if you ever try to use one of the maps provided, you will understand what I mean.

At least someone tried to soften the harsh lines of the building with some greenery and some flowering shrubs, which I think are crepe myrtle.

I think the design for this building was conceived in the Cold War era, when public buildings were expected to withstand atomic blasts. This one probably would.


This building, Parkinson Hall, houses the department my husband came to call home during his four years here. He spent many hours toiling over boxes of rocks in its geology labs and falling asleep to lectures given by old fossil professors.

Once in a while, if the weather is nice, you might find a student pondering his or her fate here in the meditation area outside the Student Center.

When the weather got chilly, I always found the inside areas more interesting, like this mosaic wall on the south end of the building. Hubby found out years ago that the knobs sound quite interesting if you rap your knuckles on them. Several of them appear to have been rapped with more than necessary force.

We miss the Big Muddy Room that used to be downstairs. There was a cozy, dimly lit cafe that served the best Italian beef sandwiches, and you could play ping-pong for hours...

...where the arts-and-crafts shop now stands. I guess commerce wins out over students-who-skip-class-to-play-ping-pong.

The Neckers Complex just south of the Student Center used to have this fun wind tunnel between what used to be its two main buildings, A and B. You could always count on a cold blast knocking your hat, scarf, or maybe even socks off on most winter days. I wonder if the designer planned it that way. I bet he/she was from Chicago and figured out a way to capture part of the Windy City's essence.


Across the street from Neckers is an updated relic of Bucky's design known as the Arena. It is home to the SIU Salukis basketball team, and at certain times of the year, graduates have been known to accept their "sheepskins" here. We have several SIU-C sheepskin recipients in our immediate and extended family.

We ended our rather lengthy trek across campus at the group of buildings where I once worked as a student-secretary. The office of Educational Leadership used to be here but has since been commandeered by the Engineering Department. We always felt a little out of place, anyway, tucked in the corner of the building that once also housed the coal research scientists. I wonder if they ever figured out a way to clean up that stinky, high-sulfur coal and convince everybody that it won't cause acid rain out east? A more acceptable product sure would come in handy right now. And some of Bucky's ideas would too.

...Sir, I am vexed.
Bear with my weakness. My old brain is troubled.
Be not disturbed with my infirmity.
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose. A turn or two I'll walk
To still my beating mind...

--from The Tempest, 4.1--