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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

SAM's Rock Garden

Hello! This is Secret Aging Man posting as a guest, for the first time on W2W's blog. My dear W2W insists I do something productive and join her blog as a periodic “guest blogger” and share wonderful tidbits of knowledge about rocks. Well, I’m not sure if anyone out there really cares much about pretty rocks and minerals or if joining in a cyber-conversation is really the kind of productivity I need. Given my recent layoff (first time in 29 years), perhaps remembering and recording some of my past hobby experiences will indeed provide a creative release and reduce the stress of living in these troubled times.

Maybe a little background information is appropriate to include here. I am 51, married for the past 29 years to Walk2Write, parent of two grown children and grandparent to one rockin' 2-year old boy (hereafter called "Pebble Pup"). My professional background as a geologist has see-sawed from environmental professional to oil exploration geologist. I used to joke that I could go out and find the oil deposits, then switch hats and charge for cleaning up the mess we made with all the oil contamination! Really – I’m kidding here. Please don’t take everything said too seriously. I am all for being a good steward of the environment, but there are always at least two sides to every story.

My love for rocks all started when I was about six years old and just couldn't stop picking up shiny stones from the family driveway and stuffing them into my pockets. The obsession got so bad and the pile in my bedroom floor so big, that my parents finally found a fellowship of rock-lovers (our regional rock club) to train their young son in proper rock collecting techniques and identification. We found out that the shine and color a lot of the driveway rock was because it contained the minerals fluorite, sphalerite, and galena. Seems our home in Southern Illinois was paved with limestone aggregate from the "spar" mines, located about 60 miles to the southeast, in Rosiclare. My first rock collecting site turned out to be a pretty good one, if only ten feet from the front door!

The photo shows what I have left of the once vast family mineral collection. About 95% to 98% of our collection was sold back in the early ‘90s to pay for a necessary home foundation “prop-up”. Seems my Mom’s house was situated directly over the underground workings of a Southern Illinois coal mine and the surface of the ground slowly sank, or subsided, in response to the sloughing of the old mine pillars. This is a common malady in areas where subsurface coal mining is prevalent and can be compared to “sinkholes”, for those not familiar with mining, but perhaps living in areas of cave topographic expressions. I will discuss fluorite at greater length, in my next post.


  1. Hello there Mr. SAM, I'm pleased to be reading something from the spouse of one of my favorite bloggers. She and I will often trade literary rants from time to time. I'm not much into the sedimentary rock sciences, but if you were to discuss the relationship between rocks and dirt (if there is one) I'd be intrigued. W2W, and now you, and I have more than our love of gardening in common; she likes the literary arts - I'm an English major (Creative Writing Nonfiction), y'all have two grown children - My two oldest are in KY, a son 28, and a daughter 26, and y'all have a grandson - I have a one granddaughter in KY (my oldest son's daughter, he's divorced but a great dad!). And now there's one more thing we have in common; you're a blogger. Welcome, and I look forward to future guest posts (or you could create your own "SAM" blog).

  2. This is fascinating. I was the same way as a kid. First it was the shiny rocks and the ones with pretty colors. Then I added the rocks with fossils.

    Now I like the polished stones. And geods, I've always wanted one of those.

    I enjoyed this post and hope to see more on the subject.

  3. Hi SAM! I love your rock 'Garden'. You are a super good guest blogger on W2W's blog and I am so glad you joined in as I am really looking forward to hearing about fluorite and all sorts of stuff about rocks. It is nice knowing your history with them too. So glad you could be a geologist with that strong love of rocks. We treasure the rock collection you gave to Jimmy and look at it often. Take care.

  4. Thanks all for the warm greetings.

    TC, one of these days I may do my own blog, but thought getting my feet wet here would match the wetness behind my ears - when it comes to writing. You literary guys are awesome, but I always have to think so much when reading your posts. I guess I'm more of a right-brain science nerd.
    Have a good KY trip; we used to live in Paducah.

    Marnie, I'm glad you liked the rock collection and almost all kids I have known love shiny rocks - I just never grew up. I will try to weave a little geological info to go along with the hobby side, in future posts.

    Tina, glad the Jimster and you guys like the rock kit. I will try to put a little history with the rock posts, but it may be the prehistoric kind!

  5. Oh, how I love rocks!!! Walk2write is so fortunate to have such a husband as you, with vast geology info in your head!!! I am looking forward to your future posts. It is so interesting how our early childhood shapes our interests in adulthood!

  6. P.S. Your rock garden is really great, BTW! I made it big and could see it much better!!!

  7. All good hobbies start in our youth ... or many of them at least. Geology and math: they are two subjects I wish I had more of growing up ...

  8. Hello...nice to meet you. I used to be such a rock hound as a kid and drove my parents crazy with my ever increasing collection of rocks. I am trying to remember when I stopped collecting..Oh no..I just turned the collection into gemstones and collect jewelry now...LOL... I look forward to your posts...Michelle

  9. WTW had a good idea!

    Both my grandmother and mother were rock hounds, but it skipped over me.

  10. Julie, thanks for your visit and nice comment. W2W encouraged me recently to display the mineral specimens. They were stashed away in cardboard boxes after our last move. Now they provide a little inspiration for my future stories about rock collecting!

    Robert, I always enjoyed Geology, growing up, but Math was normally a chore for me. I encourage all good teachers who enjoy math to become math teachers! There seems to be a shortage of good ones. I finally had a good Statistics teacher in college and loved that course.

    Michelle, I enjoy gemstones, too. During my high school years, I got into jewelry making and lapidary. One of these days, I may take up that interest, again.

    Sweet Bay, you had better prepare for you kids being big time rockhounds. I've heard that the allure of the stones doubles after passing over a generation!

  11. Your parents invested wisely in your geological education. How could they possibly know how handy it would all be one day? That's just too funny to be real. Glad to have in as guest blogger!

  12. Glad you took the time to guest. My father spent part of his life as a Diamond driller and brought home core pieces and my uncle collected rocks so this brought back memories.

  13. He (SAM) wouldn't believe me when I told him that most people are still fascinated by rocks, especially pretty ones. Remember pet rocks? Rock candy? It's kind of ironic that we live in FL now. Not much rock hunting to do around here. But plenty of stories to tell....

  14. PJ, welcome fellow NW Floridian! I have enjoyed your photos depicting life in and around Pensacola. Yes, my parents were wise to instill a love for a hobby, at a young age. As you will learn in future posts, they took this rock collecting thing to new heights.

    Dr. John, my father collected several cores taken from exploration of the fluorspar district in Illinois. We had them in our museum for years, but don't have any left, now. He actually helped sink a few of the 1,000+ feet shafts for a couple of years (I believe in the 1940's or 1950's). Glad the post brought back some fond memories.

    W2W, thanks for giving me the nudge to start posting. I think that I will really enjoy recalling the fun times and rock-hunting adventures of long ago. Darn it! Let's go out West next year and make some new adventures!

  15. Interesting. I too love rocks with strange colors and textures. It was really great to see a post that's very different and cool. Thanks for this, SAM.

  16. Nice job and welcome to blog world! My husband occasionally steps into guest blog too. Cool rocks and good luck with the job search.

  17. Hi SAM, I saw your comment on TC's blog and wondered who you were. Kudos for joining the conversation. W2W is a wise woman. I share your childhood love of rocks, although never learned much about them. We have moved many times with my husbands company all over the US, and guess what? Yes, we have moved rocks. Not even labeled, but special in some way, and heavy. You may know that moving companies charge by the pound to move your goods. We were always over the limit that his company paid for. I began moving the rocks in the car after getting smarter in older age. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Your writing style is easy to read and interesting. Nice to meet you.

  18. Chandramouli, thanks for stopping by my first post. It is definitely different but still working on the cool part. I've been square for a long time, you know!

    Sarah, thanks for encouragement on the employment front. I hope to see a post by your husband, in the not too distant future.

    Frances, I know what you mean about moving heavy boxes of rocks. We have moved more times than fingers on both my hands can keep track of! Perhaps this aching back of mine is a sign of what the future "hopefully" holds. NO MORE MOVING!