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, December 13, 2010

A Man of His Word

Secret Aging Man on the road again in his Ford pickup truck sometime in the late 1970s

SAM's fluorite story card

Having finished Carolyn Haines' Greedy Bones over a week ago, I decided to write a little review before details started fading. If I get something wrong maybe SAM will point it out to me. He's reading the book at my request, though he's never been much of a fiction reader or writer, for that matter. That's not to say he doesn't know how to write. As you can plainly see above, he's pretty good at putting words together. Most of the writing he's done over the years has been work-related, technical stuff that's all in a day's work for a professional geologist. From oil prospects to environmental assessments, he has produced enough reports in the last 30 years to fill a small-town library. (I've edited quite a few of them.) Somewhere along the way, I guess about 15 years ago, he got the urge to break out of the mold and came up with some story cards to go along with rock kits he had assembled. One side of each card describes a mineral's physical and chemical attributes, and on the other side SAM applies what he has learned over the years. I think it's pretty amazing what he's learned.  

SAM on duty, after work, at his other job--as Daddy, 1982
While SAM has been reading Greedy Bones, I decided to take on Anna Quindlen's novel, Every Last One. Click on this link to a review of it in the New York Times. The two novels don't have much in common, except for a few details. For one thing, they're both written by women, probably middle-aged or at least with some experience under their belts. Then there's the fact that men are secondary characters in these novels. They're more like props than anything, definitely not prime movers, muscle bound though they may be. If you want to think in anatomical terms, they might even be considered antagonistic, resisting the female protagonists and throwing monkey wrenches into their lives--marriage, kids, and that sort of thing. I tend to do that--think anatomically, not throw monkey wrenches--when I'm dissecting a novel. It's probably a good thing I never became a surgeon. You would think that female protagonists in this day and age would be, though. Instead, they're amateur sleuths/actresses (Greedy Bones) or professional landscapers (Every Last One). Not that there's anything wrong with those occupational choices. It's just that according to what pundits from the last few decades would have you believe, they're a few bricks short of a full load of ambition, a half a bubble off the feministic ideal of a woman. But don't expect to find any air heads in these novels. Even the female villains/victims are canny.
SAM, the Prime Mover, behind the wheel of our once-upon-a-time, 15-passenger van. We bought it for transporting the church youth group in the mid 90s when gas was still cheap!
Holiday social event, December 2009
I don't know what to make of novels these days, especially those written by women. They're difficult to pigeonhole, even if you do manage to dissect them. I've tried, believe me. Is Haines' protag, Sarah Booth Delaney, today's version of Nancy Drew, now empowered by the sexual revolution and a hefty inheritance?  SAM's comment about her tendency to hop on a plane or jump into dangerous/awkward situations at the drop of a hat: Unrealistic. Okay, that's coming from a conservative businessman/bureaucrat's perspective. I shrugged it off as just another supernormal power that socialite heiresses enjoy, besides the ability to communicate with dead family members/friends. Calgon, take me away!

I'll admit that Quindlen's novel worked me over emotionally. Its subject matter is pretty intense from anyone's perspective--anyone that has a heart, that is. Besides the M&MM (murder and maternal mayhem that follows), I had the wind knocked out of me when I thought: what's really at stake here, literally and figuratively? Fatherhood/philosophy, sanctity of marriage, music, poetry--Glen; Glen/MaryBeth, et al; Max, Ruby. All of them on the chopping block at once. Scary!

It seems that some authors are beginning to take Deleuze and Guattari to heart: Write a rhizome. Let it become more than the sum of its parts. We are working on it.

SAM's rock kit, disassembled, outside of the box.
"We are no longer ourselves. Each will know his own. We have been aided, inspired, multiplied." (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus)


  1. And yet they write these MC's.

    I love the photos you have interspersed throughout the post. They are great.

    Hope you are keeping warm down there in Florida.

  2. SAM hasn't changed a bit. It's very nice to see him and you on here. A lasting tribute to you guys's marriage forever. (You know I make up words I'm from the north:)

    That book sounds like the kind I like to read so I will check it out. I've begun reading again and love it! Not so much blogging so more time.

  3. Interesting assessment here about how authors work over the social mores and leave us sometimes scratching our heads about it all.

  4. You two are adorable. Sam's rock kit looks really neat. You reminded me that I've been meaning to pull out my kit from my college Geology class and set the stones up to be displayed.

  5. Thanks for the heads up. I do miss Quindlens bi-weekly opinions in Newsweek a lot. She could write. George Will.... yuk.

  6. A great tribute to SAM, W2W! The two of you have found the secret to a successful marriage--mutual love and respect. Thanks for the reading tips--this is the time of year when I especially enjoy curling up with a good book, under a cozy blanket, of course.

  7. Ann, thanks. We're finally warming up a bit for a day or two before the next big whammy of cold air hits us again.

    Tina, you go right ahead and say it the way you like, especially the part about SAM not changing a bit. He loves to hear that kind of thing even while denying it.

    Thanks, Paul. I've decided to start reviewing books here because it helps me to remember what I've read and in what context, and I enjoy sparking little conversations about the novels. Different points of view help me understand and appreciate them even more, so feel free to share yours anytime.

    MBT, I'm so glad the post helped you remember your own rock kit. It's satisfying to dust off those artifacts or treasures from the past and integrate them into our present. Digging out the Christmas decorations got me thinking about those old photos stored away.

    TB, both of these authors come from a journalistic background. I think Haines was more into investigative reporting so that's the direction her novels take. I wouldn't be too hard on old George. He's a brave guy to stand up under a tidal wave of liberalism. One-sided conversations put me to sleep.

    Rose, let me tell you, the mutual love and respect muscle gets a regular workout. It's probably the only one that does:) Winter is my favorite reading season too, and even in Florida right now we're having to pile on the blankets. Brrr!

  8. Fun to have a flash back. That first image of SAM is so 70s. Love it! You must have a very happy marriage. Nice review too.

  9. Technical writing from a geologist is sort of like historical fiction, if that's the right name. I'm always amazed how they can piece time and three dimensional space together, often if vivid imagery and storytelling of how these sediments got formed. Do you have a Kindle? Happy holidays BTW. :^)

  10. Sarah, the 70s were the best! Especially the music. The men definitely had the advantage over women in the hair department back then. I remember mine as being long and straight and not very interesting. Yes, SAM and I have had a long, interesting, and happy marriage. Thank you, and I hope you have a joy-filled holiday with your family!

    Mr. S, it does take a special kind of mind to visualize, comprehend, and describe things stratigraphically. It's a vertical landscape buried beneath our feet. And there's that extra dimension of time, like you said, that stretches the imagination. That's why I think SAM would be an excellent fiction writer. Per your question, no, I don't have a Kindle. I'm not sure that I would like one because I'm so fond of books--the weight of them in my hand, the smell, the texture. I hope you have a Merry Christmas too!

  11. Anna Q is one of my faves.
    My daughter, who is in HS, had to read One Flew over the cuckoo's nest and told me to read it. It is blowing my mind, Ken with his LSD meanderings.

  12. Lovely tribute to the man in your life. been too long. Hello. I read something my AQ back in the day and remember enjoying it.