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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Man O' War, Friend or Foe?



When fellow bloggers remind me that I am living in a virtual paradise (please see comments on my previous post), I consider it my duty to investigate their assumption. Hubby and I visited Pensacola Beach on Sunday and found the red flags flying for good reason. The surf was rough and DANGEROUS! The only people allowed in the water wore wet suits and rode flimsy boards. All other reasonable souls ate lunch, walked, and observed life on land.

These prints in the sand do not belong to us. Hubby and I wore sandals on the beach because we found lots of interesting blue blobs littering the beach. I initially thought they were jellyfish, but Hubby remembered that they are much more dangerous than mere jellyfish. They are PORTUGESE MAN (MEN?) O' WAR! Even busy people like the first Prince Albert of Monaco found them fascinating enough to enlist the help of renowned scientists to study them. The original Prince Albert, as a young man, had the foresight, intelligence, and initiative (and lest we forget, lots of time and money!) to explore the forbidding waters of the Arctic Circle and open an oceanographic institute in Monaco. It is too bad the current Prince Albert of Monaco found chasing skirts more to his liking as a young man than seriously following in his progenitor's footsteps. For some reason, in the last several years, he has suddenly discovered the old man's passion and has jumped on the global warming bandwagon (ship?). It had very nearly left him behind.


I was glad for once that Micah was not with us on the beach because he would have been tempted to pick one up and could have been injured. These creatures, though they appear harmless and quite beautiful, can pose serious threats to curious or careless people. They should definitely not be handled or stepped on. Anaphylaxis can even occur in some people who are hypersensitive to the toxins in their long tentacles, traces of which can linger on objects such as shoes and beach toys. In spite of their dangerous methods of capturing prey, they are not without their own predators. They do provide food for various fish as well as loggerhead sea turtles.




Hubby has been suffering lately with a head cold, and a warm day at the beach helped clear his sinuses and some muddled thoughts in my own head. Just a few hours spent watching the waves and the curiosities they leave behind them can do that for just about anyone who likes to ponder.
video

The Kraken
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millenial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the lumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
--a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson--

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yule Haul



Waiting
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays--
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways
And what is mine shall know my face.
You never know what waits for you at the end of a long journey from a far-away, frozen land. It could be a hammock on the patio in the sun and a friendly, familiar face...


...or two, or more.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me,
No wind can drive my bark astray
Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years,
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up in fruit of tears.


You may find the annual rye you had sown a few weeks ago finally making an appearance on a drab winter lawn in Northwest Florida. You wonder if that guy at the agricultural check station could really believe someone claiming to be hauling home a few pots of his wife's herbs all the way from Illinois. You have discovered that honesty is still the best policy. And it never hurts to have a long line of trucks waiting behind you to dispel any doubt. The Loropetalum, among other things, lets you know that winter here is a lot more colorful now that you are home.

The waters know their own, and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.


--"Waiting" by John Burroughs (1837-1921)--

Monday, December 15, 2008

La Mere OIE, Another Goose That Gathers Golden Eggs


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth, without any bread,
Then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.

--a Mother Goose (La Mere Oie) nursery rhyme--

Watching a professional at work can really help an amateur like me understand that photography is really not my thing. A week ago Saturday we drove over to Bayview Park in Pensacola, and the wife of one our son's co-workers took some holiday family photos of all of us. It was a pleasure to watch her work with that camera and a keen eye for detail. The experience wins hands-down over the usual uncomfortable poses, fake sets, and hot lights in someone's studio. Besides, Hubby and I got to take some pictures of everyone too, even the photographer.


Now that Micah is able to sit still for about thirty seconds and listen to someone read, the best choice for story material (at least in my opinion) usually ends up as a selection from a book of nursery rhymes and bedtime stories. Even my son remembers this book, and I found his name scribbled in the pages today. I guess he was practicing penmanship at the time and could not find any paper handy. Once I started reading these time-tested verses again, I began to wonder if people still find them fascinating now that we are firmly embraced by the electronic age.

My various queries at one point turned up over two million entries on the subjects of nursery rhymes and Mother Goose! Not many of them were kind to the old bird, and in fact many of them pointed out that her verses for children are politically incorrect today. Whipping children soundly after half-starving them doesn't sound very kind or correct in any age. One entry I read maintains that most, if not all, nursery rhymes were not originally composed for children's benefit but rather as political jabs at the powers-that-be. Aha! Now I don't feel so bad for possibly scaring the wits out of my children or damaging their psyches when I read those scary stories and verses to them years ago. I was merely preparing them for the big, bad world out there and helping them begin to navigate those shark-infested waters known as p-o-l-i-t-i-c-s and e-c-o-n-o-m-y.



Did I just say big, bad world? I forget sometimes. Our economy is global now, and I have helped create it. My vote counted for the powers-that-be.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Go Ahead, Bug Me--Thoughts Concerning Governors and Pitcher Plants


I guess I am not the only one from Illinois, in Little Egypt or upstate, feeling a bit unsettled these days. The media pounced on news of Governor Blagojevich's (sounds like Boy-I'm-rich) downfall like these pitcher plants clamp down on trapped insects. People outside the Land of Lincoln may be understandably shocked by the news of such audacious corruption in the Windy City, but Illinoisans have become all too familiar with this sort of gubernatorial gaff (trick, fraud, ordeal, abuse).


My walk with Hubby last Sunday on the Blackwater Heritage State Trail provided some wonderful shots of Sarracenia leucophylla thriving alongside the trail. Phillip Merritt, a new blogger and friend of Cosmo, posted recently about these fascinating plants as some of his favorite things. You can tell by their beauty, if nothing else, why they could be favorites. This time of year and early spring are the best times to be traveling by foot here. I am thankful for these plants, and I hope they continue to thrive, because stinging and biting insects abound in marshy areas like this one. Summer is the worst time to be walking the trail, though bicycling and roller-blading do not seem to be unreasonable alternatives. If you are fast enough, you can easily escape the blood-sucking critters.


Here you can see one of several bridges along the trail, which is well-maintained and offers benches along its length for taking breaks. There are even porta-potties available for other kinds of breaks.

Water keeps flowing here in the creeks, inviting reflection and admiration for a state that strives to take care of its natural resources. It may not be the best of times financially for Florida, but at least its governor does not resort to underhanded methods of improving his own financial situation. At least, I hope he doesn't.



...For the rest, the Old Bailey was famous as a kind of deadly inn-yard, from which pale travellers set out continually, in carts and coaches, on a violent passage into the other world: traversing some two miles and a half of public street and road, and shaming few good citizens, if any. So powerful is use, and so desirable to be good use in the beginning. It was famous, too, for the pillory, a wise old institution, that inflicted a punishment of which no one could foresee the extent; also, for the whipping-post, another dear old institution, very humanising and softening to behold in action; also, for extensive transactions in blood-money, another fragment of ancestral wisdom, systematically leading to the most frightful mercenary crimes that could be committed under Heaven. Altogether, the Old Bailey, at that date, was a choice illustration of the precept that "Whatever is, is right"; an aphorism that would be as final as it is lazy, did it not include the troublesome consequence, that nothing that ever was, was wrong.
--from Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities--

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One Foot in Front of the Other


When descends on the Atlantic
The gigantic
Storm-wind of the equinox,

I know. It is almost time for the winter solstice, not the autumnal equinox. Hurricane season is over for 2008. Thank God for putting cycles in place for us. Otherwise, this roamin' idiot would not have been able to go kayaking with Hubby the day before the latest storm hit. No, I am not talking about any drastic change in the weather here in Florida. It has been quite peaceful lately, chilly maybe, but relatively quiet.




Landward in his wrath he scourges
The toiling surges,
Laden with seaweed from the rocks:
From Bermuda's reefs; from edges
Of sunken ledges,
In some far-0ff, bright Azore;
From Bahama, and the dashing,
Silver-flashing
Surges of San Salvador;
From the tumbling surf, that buries
The Orkneyan skerries,
Answering the hoarse Hebrides;
And from wrecks of ships, and drifting
Spars, uplifting
On the desolate, rainy seas;--




Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
On the shifting
Currents of the restless main;
Till in sheltered coves, and reaches
Of sandy beaches,
All have found repose again.

Wednesday, we went kayaking on the northern reaches of the Escambia River. From my position in the bow of the boat (yes, those are my feet prominently featured above), I called my oldest brother to wish him Happy Birthday and let him know that I was going to be registering for graduate school classes at SIU. He was happy for me and encouraged me to follow my dreams. On Thursday when Hubby called the office in Illinois to see how things were going, his dream and mine suddenly turned into a nightmare and galloped away, leaving us in a bit of a shock. I am sure you have noticed the price of gasoline dropping steadily. Well, the same thing has been happening to the price of oil. Exploration has come to a screeching halt in the Land of Lincoln. The promises of yesterday have changed as quickly as the tide. It was extreme low tide on the river in the afternoon while we were out and about. You can see the grass moving with the current. We noticed things like sunken boats--leftovers from Ivan and Dennis in 2004 and 2005--and reconstructed bridges. Highway 90 soared high above us as we leisurely paddled the kayak back and forth along the river. Interstate 10 was completely severed by Ivan, and even this bridge required major work to get it back into shape and fit for travel again. I traveled its span quite frequently during 2006 and 2007 while attending the University of West Florida and finishing up my B.A. in English there. I stopped by the English department on Tuesday to say hi and ask permission to put up flyers. We were seeking a roommate for our daughter to offset some of the expense of owning a home here and renting one in Illinois. We had just moved into the house on Lake of Egypt the day after Halloween. Spooky, now that I think about it.



So when storms of wild emotion
Strike the ocean
Of the poet's soul, erelong
From each cave and rocky fastness,
In its vastness,
Floats some fragment of a song:




From the far-off isles enchanted,
Heaven has planted
With the golden fruit of Truth;
From the flashing surf, whose vision
Gleams Elysian
In the tropic clime of Youth;




Hubby had high hopes at this time last year. He has always been the optimist in this family and willing to take chances on promises. From his youth, he has been a very trusting person. After all, a promise is a promise, right? I guess bottom lines and plunging oil prices have a way of changing things like promises of employment status.





The shock is beginning to wear off, I guess. At least I am able to write somewhat comprehensibly today. I like the name of this boat we passed by on Wednesday, the day we went kayaking on the river and up the bayou, not using paddles to move ahead but our feet instead.

Do I see clouds in my coffee this morning? No. I like it black and strong, at least two cups of it.
From the strong Will, and the Endeavor
That forever
Wrestle with the tides of Fate;
From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered,
Tempest-shattered,
Floating waste and desolate;--
Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart;
Till at length in books recorded,
They, like hoarded
Household words, no more depart.



--from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Seaweed"--

Monday, December 1, 2008

Making the First One Last



The Butterfly wished for a bride; and as may well be imagined, he wanted to select a very pretty one from among the flowers; therefore he threw a critical glance at all the flower-beds and found that every flower sat quietly and demurely on her stalk, just as a maiden ought to sit before she is engaged; but there were a great many of them, and the choice threatened to become wearisome...

We traveled some miles this past Friday to our home in Florida. Thankfully, the price of gas was cheap, and our Dodge truck--a leftover from the drilling business we used to own--did not set us back too many of those green objects worked so hard for and disappearing more quickly than we could have ever anticipated. When Hubby and I married nearly twenty-nine years ago, though, times were tough then too for us and a lot of other people our age. We were young when we married, the first ones among our friends to tie the knot, and we have made it last while some of our friends have not been so fortunate. As you can see by the gauges pictured above, Hubby was driving responsibly on the Interstate highway, not speeding, and we had a few more miles to go before needing to fill up the tank or empty anything else. Hubby remarked that the last half of the tank always seems to disappear more quickly than the first half. How can that be? If a half is really half, then each one should last the same amount of time as the other one. Hubby replied that most fuel gauges somehow lose their calibration or whatever it is that keeps them honest in the beginning.

...The spring went by, and the summer drew toward its close; it was autumn, but he was still undecided...


At our exit from I-65, we noticed a new casino almost ready to open for business. These are heady days for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the town of Atmore, Alabama. According to one website I found, though, there are some officials at the state level who seek to block the Native Americans' quest to follow after the elusive American dream and make lots of that green stuff. I have to wonder why the Indians should not be allowed to claim their rights to the goodies, since they were the first ones here. They will, after all, be contributing to the dwindling tax base so greedily guarded and consumed by elected officials. There are not so many manufacturing jobs left to shore up that base anymore.

...And thus it happened that the Butterfly had no wife at all. He had been too long choosing, and that is a bad plan. So the Butterfly became what we call an old bachelor.

Saturday morning was devoted to unpacking a few things and taking a walk in the neighborhood. You can see the old reliable truck resting in our driveway not very far from the neighbors' maple tree, which was still looking colorful that day. After the brisk winds we have experienced the last couple of days, I do not expect to see too many of those colorful leaves left on the tree tomorrow morning. My little windmill palm seems out of place among these deciduous trees, but it just would not seem like Florida or home without it.

It also would not seem like home without this little guy coming to visit with his parents. Micah just cannot get enough of "guy" things like our lawn tractor. He insists on climbing up and pretending that he is in charge of lawn maintenance around here. If I had just half of his energy, maybe I could really get the lawn and gardens looking good. Our grass in Florida at this time of the year looks awful so Hubby seeded it with some annual rye. Maybe by the time we have to leave, we will have some kind of green stuff to admire here.

We had another turkey dinner on Sunday afternoon, believe it or not. This time, though, our son fired up his fryer in the barn behind our house, and we enjoyed the bird prepared in deep-fried fashion. It is surprisingly tasty and not at all greasy prepared this way.

Grandpa worked off a few calories pushing Micah around the back yard in another relic from our drilling days--the old workhorse wheelbarrow. It has carried more sacks of Quik-rete, Portland cement, and bentonite clay than we care to remember. I am glad it serves a more entertaining purpose these days.
It was late in autumn, with rain and cloudy weather. The wind blew cold over the backs of the old willow trees, so that they creaked again. It was no weather to be flying about in summer clothes, nor, indeed, was the Butterfly in the open air. He had got under shelter by chance, where there was fire in the stove and the heat of summer. He could live well enough, but he said, "It's not enough merely to live. One must have freedom, sunshine, and a little flower."

Our Peruvian lily and his beautiful mother love to watch Daddy cook. You can see our kayak behind them. We will be taking it back to Illinois in the truck along with a lot of other stuff I just cannot live without for a couple of years. I wish Micah and his parents and his aunt and a couple of kitties at home could join the stuff, but, unfortunately, these Beverly Hillbillies will be the only human objects traveling back to the Land of Lincoln. Somewhere in one of my comments on one of my posts, I remember telling someone that if wishes could move land masses, then Illinois would be on the Gulf Coast. Now that hurricane season is officially over for this year, I can say things like that without any fear of it coming true for a while.
And he flew against the window-frame and was seen and admired and then stuck upon a pin and placed in the box of curiosities; they could not do more for him.

Micah and I are fast becoming buddies. We both find humor in things we love--things like playing in the yard with Grandpa and working on getting our family back together again.
"Now I am perched on a stalk, like the flowers," said the Butterfly. "It certainly is not very pleasant. It must be something like being married, for one is stuck fast." And he consoled himself in some measure with the thought.
"That's very poor comfort," said the potted Plants in the room.
"But," thought the Butterfly, "one cannot well trust these potted Plants. They've had too much to do with mankind."
--from Hans Christian Andersen's short story "The Butterfly"--