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.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mus Maximus Mus(t) Exit(us)

It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.

--from Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, excerpt from Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar--

I might as well face it. The Year of the Rat is over, and the Year of the Ox is being ushered in and welcomed all over the world. The photo of the rat in the first frame is not my own. I am sure there are rats living somewhere nearby, but I have never seen one yet to be able to take its picture. It would probably escape that fate anyway because I would probably drop the camera and run, not walk, as far away as possible, screaming all the way. Calendars serve many useful purposes: measuring the passage of time, serving as a record of history, reminding us of things we need to accomplish, and making us aware of certain obligations like birthdays and anniversaries. I find it interesting that the Chinese have been keeping track of time far longer than any Western civilization has and have been allowing the lunar cycle to determine the method of time-keeping. Time may be considered not in linear terms but in cyclic ones instead. The course of human history could therefore be seen as contours on an isopach map of the world's history, if such a map only existed. Of course, if it did, you would probably see quite a few eraser marks and blank spots as each new generation tries to adjust the contours of its self-concept onto evidence of previous sedimentary layers. Pictures from a recent visit to the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science may just prove my point, whatever it is. I should warn you that I was born in a Year of the Rat, but rest easy. My cycle is nearing the completion of its circuit. January 26, 2009, on the calendar finds the Ox taking over. If you don't like what this new year has in store, there is no need to worry. It too is only part of a cycle, just like the seasons, climate change, and anything else governed by nature.

I had no idea Florida was once home to a "princess." Those Napoleons were quite the characters for changing the world and their personal fortunes along the way.

The museum property borders a lake and swamp. Bald cypress trees dominate the landscape, bearing all of the accoutrements necessary for survival in a watery environment. I still have not found a definitive explanation for the appearance of knees on some trees and none on others.

Panthers once flourished in Florida, but we know what progress can do for certain species of mammals. Of course, progress appears to follow a cyclic pattern of its own.

One day, these panthers might once more roam freely in Florida instead of being confined to cages at a museum.

Wolves and panthers are outstanding symbols of the cunning required for survival of the fittest.

You can also find the grandest symbol of them all at this American museum in the Deep South. I would probably never be able to capture one on camera sitting this still in the wild, if I were even fortunate enough to see one. The way it kept staring at me staring at it, I began to wonder if it thought it was seeing some kind of prey. Maybe a rat?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Smiling Faces and "Caret" Motives

Now that things appear to have changed for the better in this country, we may be expected to pick up the pace. I am talking about walking instead of driving, taking the stairs and not the elevator, drying clothes on the line, growing our own vegetables; i.e., we must be about the business of making our lives more "green." Does all of this carbon offsetting sound like a lot of work? You bet.

...Alice looked around her in great surprise. "Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!"
"Of course it is," said the Queen. "What would you have it?"
"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else--if you ran very fast for a long time as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

--from Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter II, "The Garden of Live Flowers," by Lewis Carroll--

On our recent trip to visit family in distant homes, we stopped on the way back to our home at a National Seashore site and wildlife refuge near Cape Canaveral. The alligator pictured above immediately attracted our attention, even though it never appeared to move at all. It might seem a little strange for wildlife to be sheltered so near a site laden with TCE (trichloroethylene) and its degradation products such as vinyl chloride. Hubby has been to the Cape before but not as a tourist. He once tracked contaminant plumes in the soil and groundwater there.

"Rockets' red glare" is still seen here occasionally when the shuttle blasts off into space. We may not be in a race with the Russians anymore, but there is much more work to be done in space. Since the economy is in such a meltdown, I wonder where the money will come from to pay for this work?

This building (above) looks a little like a condominium, but it serves a more important purpose than fattening the bank accounts of developers. Can you guess what it is?

We found another building with a lot of history as well as significance for the future close to home. The National Naval Aviation Museum has become a major tourist attraction for NW Florida and serves an important purpose in educating people about naval aviation. Admission is free, so it's a good place to take a large group. Children seem especially impressed with the vast collection of carefully disassembled, restored, and reassembled aircraft and aviation memorabilia.

This type of green-washing would never work for our daughter. Even with a low-flow showerhead, she consumes more water than you would think humanly possible. I wish I could somehow rig up a mandatory one-rain-barrel shower for her. Initiatives seldom seem to work with some consumers, but carefully enforced mandates just might do the trick.

I know these objects are just carets. You know, ^^, empty, lacking things like engines or people to make them fly.

Only imagination can truly take flight in this place. And it does, even for earthbound bloggers who like to walk and then write.

It takes a very large prop to move a ship, and, it appears, even larger props like "carbon offsets" and "RECs" (renewable energy credits) to move a movement. Empty of meaning or purpose, except maybe to enrich some savvy business owners--oops, I mean directors and stakeholders of nonprofit organizations--they have become the watchwords for a new generation of green optimists.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Though Much is Taken, Much Abides"

Even "the unemployed" find it necessary sometimes to travel roads once familiar and then left behind to visit loved ones, familiar, and now residing in distant "homes."

The unemployed find strength in things like wildflowers on dunes on barrier islands.

An invitation to drive on the beach once again proves too tempting a pleasure to forgo. The slow pace required and the current paucity of visitors on Anastasia Island reminds one that progress is not always an optimal thing or even long-lived.

Structures built to withstand the fury of Atlantic storms, like this hacienda we once referred to as the Hotel California, aspire to great strength and resilience, but they will ultimately not last.

Gaillardia, though, have proven their resilience and ability to withstand the most adverse of conditions.

Starfish find themselves washed ashore sometimes and, if they're lucky enough to not be plucked from their temporary environment, may eventually regain their former comfort and nourishment provided by the sea.

Some objects do not fare so well when the tide returns to claim the space they occupy.

Dunes like the ones on Anastasia Island need protection because they render protection when it is most needed, during hurricane season.

At the end of the day, a peace offering from the sea is held up for inspection and admiration.

Favorite eateries and watering holes still stand as welcome stations on an island once considered home. This former bastion of bacchic sports celebrations, though, seems to be barely holding its own in this season of scarcity. Even the battle between Sooners and Gators does not command the high ticket prices it might have in years past.

The object of a journey to the East Coast of Florida still holds her own in the face of advancing age and retreating cognition. Born in 1917, she has lived through many tough times it would be nice to forget. A son's wife of 29 years, when asked "Who are you?," decides that memory loss, either short- or long-term, is not a blessing, at least as far as humans are concerned. Governors from the Land of Lincoln and their cohorts should take note that history, at least, keeps track of untruths and will never yield to forgetfulness.
...Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
--from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses"--

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bird (Pelican) Droppings, Moon Pie Hoistings, and Other Colorful Views from the Poor Man's Riviera

Pelicans have made a comeback to the Gulf Coast in ways I would never have expected. I knew that since DDT was banned, they have gradually been able to increase in number and grace the skies over Northwest Florida and neighboring states with their presence. Do you think it was to celebrate this victory over decimation that made enthusiastic citizens in Pensacola initiate "dropping" a large sculpture of a pelican on New Year's Eve? I am not sure, but I was hoping to witness and capture the scene myself. Unfortunately, Hubby and I missed the event (he is still recovering from a whopper of a cold), but daughter was able to attend with a friend. She forgot to take her camera, so I have had to rely on another blogger's perspective. Mobile, Alabama, a nearby city on the Gulf Coast, held its own unusual celebration with a Moon Pie drop. You have to hand it to the good people of this region (sometimes known as the Redneck Riviera but what I prefer to call the Poor Man's Riviera). They know how to have a good time in great style.

Though things like pelicans and moon pies are instantly recognizable and maybe worthy of celebration, lumps of "something" on the beach known for its pristine sugar sand are cause for pause. These objects on the shoreline near the Fort Pickens barricade (site closed since Hurricane Ivan) resemble rocks, but closer inspection of smaller, similar pieces revealed a wood-like texture. It might be debris that has finally washed ashore after a long time soaking in the sea. From an ancient shipwreck, perhaps?

The colors of the Gulf change from moment to moment, from silver here... almost aquamarine here on the west side of the Pensacola Beach pier... sapphire blue here on the east side of the pier. I think the change in color comes from a change in perspective. The angle at which light bounces back from the sea's surface to my eye and the lens of the camera makes all the difference. Of course, the two views from the pier were at a much greater angle from the surface than the view at beach level. And the angle of the sun's light hitting the water changes the color even more. I took the picture on the beach about two hours after visiting the pier on Tuesday.
A Psalm of Life
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!--
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled dreams, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
--poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow--