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, June 29, 2010

Mr. Zucchini Blossom: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not...

My World Tuesday

Since Mr. and Mrs. Zucchini Blossom started keeping monoecious Zucchini House together, I've been waiting patiently for some Junior zucchinis to liven up the garden--and my kitchen--with their presence. With two sexes occupying the same plant, you would think that their getting together for some lovin' in the morning wouldn't be a problem. They should already have a busload of Juniors by my reckoning. I admit to salivating at the thought of those tender, young zucchinis I would grate to make zucchini cake and bread or steam to serve with herbed butter or slice to add to my favorite lasagna recipe. The bees fly about early in the morning, adding their sweet buzz to a chorus of birdsong, and filling up their pollen baskets at the large, attractive Mr. Zucchini Blossom to share with diminutive Mrs. Zucchini Blossom. Wait a minute, though! Either Mr. ZB said something to Mrs. ZB last night to get her torqued, or the thought of having Juniors these days is too much for her to bear. What with rising healthcare costs and tuition expenses, not to mention purchasing a new school wardrobe and classroom supplies every year--Mrs. ZB isn't being at all receptive to Mr. ZB's pollen. She has her career to think about, you see. She's photogenic and doesn't want her shapely form to be marred by the weight of those developing youngsters, especially if someone's not around to regularly take them off her hands... Okay, the truth of the matter is that I'm stumped by this conundrum.

When I gardened in the Midwest, I could count on my summer squash plants to produce a bumper crop. I looked forward to it. Why then, should my Florida garden be any less fruitful? The state is number one in summer squash production, so where are those tender zucchini I'm waiting for?

I don't have a problem growing plums in Florida...

...or blueberries. And these trees and shrubs are still young. Mrs. ZB, on the other hand, has a biological clock that's running down in a hurry. Only a few weeks remain before her chances at motherhood are history. I guess I'm going to have to intervene in this fruitless-so-far-hermaphrodite-zucchini love story. It won't be easy, considering the distance between me and my garden. I'd ask our renter to take the drastic measure, but I think she's a little squeamish about undressing zucchini blossoms and dusting stigmas. Next visit home, if those Juniors aren't already taking over Zucchini House, I'll be playing bee. It's no great leap from being occasionally referred to (under someone's breath) as a "B--," so it shouldn't be too much trouble. Here are some great directions published by UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to help me get started. If Shakespeare didn't mind encouraging the generation of some offspring, then neither do I.

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another,
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live remembered not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.

Just a little extra note here: I should have put a link to Chandramouli's site to thank him for the inspiration for this post. He's a wonderful storyteller and lets his imagination transform mundane into sublime.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From Southern Magnolia to Essential Oils--Everything Old is New Again

"Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms..."

I knew this would happen sooner rather than later. The big plans I had for this week's post were shot down by my muddle-headed packing last Friday. The fabulous Chipola River float trip photos I took on Saturday are still waiting in my camera. They can't be uploaded because I left the all-important cable--whatever it's called--on the desk at home in Pensacola. The computer here at the Tallahassee apartment, dinosaur that it is, won't accept the memory card from the camera. So, I'm stuck with what photos I have on hand for now, and none are very recent. New, though, doesn't always hold out or onto the promise of better. The magnificent Southern magnolia tree I see just outside our apartment window finally gets to have its moment in the spotlight. It's definitely not new, size-wise or phylogenetically, towering above our second-story apartment and brushing the roof over our heads while we sleep. The magnolia family line goes back so far in time that remains of this tree's ancestors--remarkably similar to present-day specimens--can be found in fossils dating to at least 36 million years ago. Here is an excellent article about magnolias written by a man I almost got to meet on Monday. I'm hoping to continue my MG volunteer commitment here locally (Tallahassee vicinity), and if the stars align or the powers-that-be agree, I might get to help out at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. I'm excited at the prospect! One of the most interesting aspects of the place centers around the interdisciplinary approach to research.

Apparently, this approach is becoming more prevalent in scientific circles. According to another interesting article, fusion is where it's at in research these days:

Consider this thought experiment: When new generation textbooks are written 10-20 years from now, might they be structured differently from at present? I think they will. They will unify topics that are taught separately at present: traditional botany...quantitative ecology...paleobotany... Textbooks fusing these three strands will teach a sort of ecological systematics. They will hark back to the tradition in which well-trained students knew the natural history of families. But in the new fusion, clades [a new word for me!] will be embedded in tree thinking, rather than seen as natural categories. The paleohistory leading up to them will be explicit and dated and informed by modern geoscience. The natural history will be enriched by quantitative cost-benefit analyses of the strategies of leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and seeds. Everything old will be new again--Mark Westoby, "Phylogenetic Ecology at World Scale, a New Fusion Between Ecology and Evolution," Ecology, 2006.

Maybe there's hope for me yet.

Now, getting back to that line from H. W. Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline, "odorous breath" isn't something we usually associate with magnolias but rather with first-thing-in-the-morning, sleepy-headed, mumble-mouth distance from our friends and loved ones. Since I promised some people I know a recipe for what I use to combat that common barrier to social acceptance and wakefulness, here it is: 

1/3 cup food-grade, vegetable glycerin
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (optional--there are pros and cons for its use)
Distilled water (enough to fill a quart-size jar after addition of first two ingredients)
Several drops of each of the following essential oils: anise, cinnamon, clove, ginger, lemon or lime, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, and spearmint. Make sure that you obtain therapeutic-grade oils from a reputable source. I'm not going to recommend brands here in the post, but I will offer some suggestions if you're curious enough to e-mail me.

Cap jar tightly with lid and shake vigorously, which should be done before each use. I pour mine via funnel into bottles with smaller necks for later ease of pouring. Empty glass "fifth" size or 375-ml bottles (the flat, flask-like ones that liquor stores sell) work quite well. 

I hope you like the recipe and that you also find the following video to be in good taste. I found it on YouTube and thought it captured perfectly the evanescent-yet-enduring qualities of a magnolia blossom. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day-Tripping--Not Lotos-Eating--in Florida: What Will POTUS Think of Pensacola?

I wonder what the President's impression of Pensacola will be after his visit today? He ought to be allowed to take a dip in the Gulf, immerse himself in it, taste its brine, feel its warmth on his skin, and be in awe of its Life-force to know what it really means to the "folks down on the Gulf Coast." Secret Aging Man and I made a point of day-tripping to the beach this past Saturday. We didn't see any tar balls on the sand or in the water, but we did see plenty of other interesting things. Just after I took this pic of SAM entering the water, some people walking by yelled out that there were rays, dozens of them, swimming around him. By the time I got down to the water's edge, the creatures were gone, heading west down the shoreline.

After SAM's immersion, we took a long walk on a deserted stretch of sand toward Fort Pickens. We didn't drive all the way out to the end but parked at the last pavilion before the gate. Our annual pass expired at the end of May, and we aren't sure that we want to renew it. It does save you money in the long run if you visit the place regularly.

By the time we got tired of walking, it was time for lunch, and we decided to splurge on a sandwich at the Pensacola Pier restaurant. I recommend the shrimp PoBoy. The shrimp have a light, tempura-like batter, and they're not exactly shrimpy. I was pleasantly surprised by their size, quantity, and fresh taste. A cold, 99-cent draft beer or two was a good choice to wash it, the sandwich and fries, all down. I was also surprised, though I shouldn't have been, that there were few customers at the restaurant and down on the beach to rent the umbrellas and chairs. SAM and I both thought that the restaurant manager ought to consider sending someone down to the beach to take food and drink orders. Maybe it's not allowed, though. There are lots of rules and regulations in place on the beach to keep things under control. Lifeguards and beach patrol vehicles--see the yellow truck?--do a good job of maintaining order and safety, even when there aren't many people out and about.

We didn't see many fishermen or women on the pier. It was eerie to see it so empty on a beautiful, summer Saturday.

The emerald-green water was calm enough that the surfer dudes found another use for their boards.

This little kayak dude seemed oblivious to the rule about not paddling directly beneath the pier. It could be dangerous to him because of the fishing lines and hooks dangling down and frustrating to the fisher-people trying to catch something. I was one of the people who called down to him to stay clear of the pier. He paddled away with a smile and without a care in the world.

It was a good thing the kayak dude was out of the way when a young man on the pier hooked this beauty. I think it's a kingfish. While he fought it for about 15 minutes, following its movement around the end of the pier, we talked to his mother, who occasionally yelled out encouraging words to him. She said they were from Gulf Shores, Alabama, and couldn't fish there anymore because of the oil slick. We were all rooting for the fisherman, but, alas, the fish broke the line by swimming underneath the pier. It was pretty quiet on the pier after that, and as we walked back to land, I stopped along the way and took this pic looking down into the Gulf waters. The sun was getting high in the sky, the air was getting hot, and I couldn't see what I was focusing on. I think it's a pretty cool shot, though--of what, I don't know.

"Courage!" he said, and pointed toward the land,
"This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon."
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alive and Walking in Florida: Finding Some Humor and Beauty Amidst the Crude Crisis

Just so you know, I'm still alive and kicking--well, at least walking--in Florida, though not always in my favorite spot near Pensacola, one of the communities affected by the Crude Crisis. Yes, if you can believe it, that is a moniker adopted by one of the local network affiliates to describe the BP oil slick. We have moved, sort of, to Tallahassee, where the plume of lawyers/lawmakers could rival that one, or more, drifting about in the Gulf of Mexico. I guess that explains my absence from blogging--the move, I mean. It takes me a while to get my bearings in a new place, and every time I move a few more of them get knocked loose.

The Bellman, who was almost morbidly sensitive about appearances, used to have the bowsprit unshipped once or twice a week to be revarnished, and it more than once happened, when the time came for replacing it, that no one on board could remember which end of the ship it belonged to. They knew it was not of the slightest use to appeal to the Bellman about it--he would only refer to his Naval Code, and read out in pathetic tones Admiralty Instructions which none of them had ever been able to understand--so it generally ended in its being fastened on, anyhow, across the rudder. The helmsman used to stand by with tears in his eyes: he knew it was all wrong, but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, "No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm," had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words "and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one." So remonstrance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards... (from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, 1876)

All jokes aside--I hope he sees the joke--The Man at the Helm, aka SAM, aka The Doughy-Butt Bureaucrat, is doing the best he can to keep bearings, body, and soul--family--together, but circumstances being what they are, the grups have left home, and the yups have stayed behind to take care of things, garden-wise and otherwise. Home is only three hours away--two hours west and four hours east if you consider the time change--so I'll be back regularly to monitor the progress of this Monarda "Jacob Cline." I got several divisions for free--well, in exchange for some volunteer weeding--and I'm pleased so far with their progress in the front flower bed. They're supposed to be resistant to mildew, a common problem with bee balm, but they don't smell quite as fragrant as the varieties I've encountered before. Maybe that's why the bees haven't shown up for a sip. What the flowers lack in aroma, the foliage more than makes up for. Earl Grey would be thrilled to squeeze a few leaves for that famous bergamot essence.

The caterpillars were hard at work squeezing leaves--plundering and pinching my parsley--when I left so I added a few more plants for their Papilio pleasure. I hope they're pleased.

I can't seem to get enough daylilies to fill my flower beds at home. They seem to grow just as well in northwest Florida as they did for me in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. Our home in Florida, near Pensacola,  is far enough away from the coastline (thanks for asking, Clementine Moonflower!) that salt tolerance is not an issue. Daylily blooms are about as fleeting as a little boy's jokes, and I know that the Man at the Helm will see the humor in them. The last time we had a visit from Micah to our home near Pensacola, he entertained us with his newly acquired sense of humor. We celebrated his third birthday in May, and I believe he may be on his way to celebrated comedian status before very long.

Bit o' Humor #1:  We are all relaxing in the living room after supper, talking about this and that, and one impatient little boy wants to be heard. He covers his ears and with a serious expression exclaims: "Ears, people, ears!" What? Ears? His mom explains that his preschool teacher has a kinder, gentler way of saying "Shut up!" Good for her!

Bit o' Humor #2:  Son is trying to help Micah into his car seat in the family van so they can go home, but Micah has other priorities. He wants to stuff something into his back pack and secure it for the bumpy ride home (they live on an unpaved road). Son: "Micah, come on now; get in your car seat." Micah: Mumbles something inaudible, and then with a dramatic flair, "Wait a minute, babe!" Babe? From the mouth of, well, a babe? Yes. He not only parrots what mom and dad say but also their expressive endearments for each other.

Bit o' Humor #3:  After Son has installed Micah in said car seat, he finds a nickel on the floor and presents it to Micah as a prize for complying with parental guidance. Micah's response, complete with arms spread as wide as little ones can possibly be? "I want BIG money, daddy! BIG!"

I have to admit that the local (Pensacola, FL/Mobile, AL) forecasts are much more colorful and engaging than the ones in Tallahassee. All that we get there is the weather. And that "big money"? Well, let's just say that the lawyers have found a way to keep it coming their way for a very long time to come. You might say it's a "Barrister's Dream" come true, if the "pig"--Big Oil, BP, capitalism?--is allowed to live for a little while longer.

Fit the Sixth.
The Barrister's Dream

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
That the Beaver's lace-making was wrong,
Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
That his fancy had dwelt on so long.

He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
On the charge of deserting its sty.

The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
In a soft under-current of sound.

The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
What the pig was supposed to have done.

The Jury had each formed a different view
(Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
One word that the others had said.

"You must know--" said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed
That statute is obsolete quite!
Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
On an ancient manorial right.

"In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
If you grant the plea 'never indebted.'

"The fact of Desertion I will not dispute:
But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as relates to the costs of this suit)
By the Alibi which has been proved.

"My poor client's fate now depends on your votes."
Here the speaker sat down in his place,
And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
And briefly to sum up the case.

But the Judge said he never had summed up before;
So the Snark undertook it instead,
And summed it so well that it came to far more
Than the Witnesses ever had said!

When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined,
As the word was so puzzling to spell;
But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn't mind
Undertaking that duty as well.

So the Snark found the verdict, although, as it owned,
It was spent with the toils of the day:
When it said the word "GUILTY!" the Jury all groaned,
And some of them fainted away.

Then the Snark pronounced sentence, the Judge being quite
Too nervous to utter a word:
When it rose to its feet, there was silence like night,
And the fall of a pin might be heard.

"Transportation for life" was the sentence it gave,
"And then to be fined forty pound."
The Jury all cheered, though the Judge said he feared
That the phrase was not legally sound.

But their wild exultation was suddenly checked
When the jailer informed them, with tears,
Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
As the pig had been dead for some years.

The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
But the Snark, though a little aghast,
As the lawyer to whom the defence was intrusted,
Went bellowing on to the last.

Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.