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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Occupy Destin(ation)--A Christmas Visit to the Redneck Riviera

Peanut, the Christmas tree occupier

Peanut occupied the space beneath the Christmas tree where the presents usually go. Her food and water bowls were full, the litter box was clean and ready for use, so what did she care that the presents were loaded into the car instead of piled up on the tree skirt? She didn't so much as wave a paw as we shut and locked the front door behind us.

Instead of the usual gathering at one of our homes, this year for Christmas we decided to occupy Destin, also known as the World's Luckiest Fishing Village. This being the off season, hotel rooms were cheap. We stayed at a fairly new, very nice one not far from Harbor Walk, and the cost was only $59 a night (plus tax). You don't have to wait for your ship to come in to enjoy a weekend stay here in winter.

There were plenty of things to see and do to keep a busy boy occupied and still for a few minutes.

Grandson would gladly have lent a hand in this catch but perhaps not so eager to help with the cleaning of the fish. He thinks he's already old enough to go on a deep sea fishing trip. Maybe next year.

We were fortunate to have a warm, sunny day for Christmas Eve. Grandson's other grandma had come for a week-long visit and said this was the first really nice day they'd had all week.

One of Grandson's favorite places to go in Destin or in Spanish Fort, Alabama is Bass Pro Shop. His daddy has been to the original, flagship store in Springfield, Missouri. He was just as fascinated by the fish swimming around the huge tank there, even though they were bass and catfish instead of redfish and jack cravelle.

While Grandson went down for a much-needed nap in his parents' room and his other grandma prepared a wonderful Peruvian meal for us, Daughter, SAM, and I took a walk on the beach. You can find snowmen even here in Florida, though they tend to sag a bit. Sand doesn't pack as well as the stuff the real ones are made of.

Sometimes they decide to get a suntan on the beach. This one was sans bathing attire. I guess he doesn't know this ain't the French Riviera. It's the Redneck Riviera, buddy, and they don't allow that kind of thing here. Count your blessings...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Sandy Claws' Rides Again

Father Christmas (Santa Claus?) Bearing Gifts by Goat
(picture from article about Santa Claus in Wikipedia )
Now that the kids are grown and (mostly) moved away from the family nest--wherever that happens to rest at the moment--I miss those bedtime stories we used to enjoy together. Winter nights are especially difficult. The early onset of darkness and its companion COLD keep us inside with hours to go before we sleep.

Shall I read to you, dear? Television has no more allure. We've both exhausted our gender-determined word allowances for the day. Let's open a book--novel idea!--and see if we can kill a little time, dispel the darkness, find some meaning in life, ignore that bottle of French brandy sitting on the counter...

So we climb into bed, and I open a new favorite Christmas story. It's Bret Harte's short story "How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar." I found it in one of the red-bound, Black's Reader Service Company books that Mom gave me from Dad's extensive book collection. Now you might think it's a strange one to choose from a veritable treasure trove of stories concocted about the old fellow over hundreds of years. I guess I like it because it's not your traditional sappy story. It's written by a man whose genius captures his fellow Americans, male and female, simultaneously as the fools they are and the heroes that they become. I have to wonder. Are we really as complicated and conflicted as that? Not so easily pigeon-holed or neatly wrapped and ribboned as social and political scientists would have us be?

Better not think too much. "Do not all charms fly/ At the mere touch of cold philosophy?" (Keats, "Lamia")

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jane Austen: No Swooning Allowed

If not for SAM's cold--probably contracted whilst celebrating at Walk2Write's post-graduation party last Sunday (a bitterly cold day) on the patio of a local Mexican restaurant, somewhat warmed by propane heaters but still drafty--a visit by the irascible sister-in-law would be imminent this weekend. Fortunately, or not as you might imagine, the weekend was saved, and there was another celebration of sorts. Walk2Write was alerted to the fact that today is the 236th anniversary of Jane Austen's birthday. Love and Friendship was read and enjoyed for the first time ever by yours truly and SAM, whilst on the deck of their tree house, warmed by the afternoon sun and each other's company. It doesn't get any better than this and probably shouldn't.

Merry Christmas and may God bless you!

Friday, December 9, 2011

'Press On,' Literally

If you have been following yours truly since the beginning of this blog, you know that the journal and the journey began with a dream. The dream may have been put on hold for a while, but the journey continued. I didn't want to talk about the dream anymore; it went into a box and was sealed up for a while.

Then we moved to Tallahassee, and the most amazing thing happened. The dream was so strong that it broke the seal on the box and danced around in my head again. Its rhythmic beat would not be still. So I let it play out, the whole song, the whole dream. Only I didn't want to share it again with ya'll. I kept it close to the chest and piled on the layers. Call it superstition if you like. I prefer to call it intuition.

School is now over, and the test has been taken
My faith has been tested, but it wouldn't be shaken
The reason is clear
If you choose to look here

"Press On" were the words
That I heard in my head
"Press On" were the words quite real
The words that often were spoken
The words that heal
The broken...


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Walk2Write's Lasagna Theory of Social Penetration or How to Break the Ice

By now, most people are aware of the Onion Theory of Communication or Social Penetration Theory. As someone who enjoys preparing and eating good food, I have to wonder why the theory, originated by social psychologists Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor in the early 1970s, relies on the lowly onion to reveal such a complex idea. Maybe because it's now such a universal root, cultivated and eaten throughout most of the world? Given the current globalization and resulting complexity of everything, including cuisine, perhaps the time has come for consuming a new, more elaborate metaphor: Walk2Write's Lasagna Theory of Social Penetration.

I've been preparing this dish for more than 30 years so I know a thing or two about how it can spark a conversation and cement relationships. We (SAM and I) were newly wed, and it was the first dish I prepared for "important company," namely SAM's first boss and his wife. It made a favorable impression on them, and I was even asked for the recipe. I was overjoyed that it turned out so well, but why should I have been surprised? The recipe has only failed me one time, and that was when I prepared it in someone else's kitchen using her not-so-fresh ingredients. Yes, the quality of the ingredients make a big difference, so don't even think about using ancient pasta or cheese that's a little green around the edges. Conversation will fall flat on its face in a hurry.

The recipe (discourse) begins (I hope!):

1 pound of lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1 medium size onion, chopped finely
1 green pepper, chopped finely

Combine the above ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat until most of the moisture has evaporated. This step is important, and I'm guessing it's because the other ingredients' unique flavors would be lost in excess vapor when they are added later on. Have you ever noticed how the same kind of thing happens when someone or a select few dominate the conversation?

Add to saucepan:
28-32 ounces crushed tomatoes
12 ounces tomato paste
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
A few bay leaves
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. dried chipotle or other red pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup honey (more or less depending on how acidic the tomatoes are)

Simmer for at least one hour over low heat with the lid slightly ajar. Remove bay leaves if you can find them. If they're as old as the hills, they can crumble and get lost in the sauce. It's sort of like what happens to an elderly statesman these days in a room full of freshman lawmakers.

Prepare a 13 x 9-inch glass pan by coating it liberally inside with olive oil. Ladle enough of the sauce in the pan to cover the bottom of it. Arrange dry lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat pasta) over the sauce to cover it. Reserve the rest of the meat/tomato sauce for the final layer.

32 oz. small curd cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Spread just enough of the above ingredients to cover the noodles. Cover with grated mozzarella. Repeat with another two layers (noodles and then cottage cheese mixture) but without sauce and without mozzarella. The final layer will consist of noodles, cottage cheese mixture, and the remaining meat/tomato sauce. I haven't mentioned the exact quantity of noodles required for the recipe because it varies. The brand you buy, the size and thickness of the noodle, the number of layers you decide upon: all of these factors determine how much you will use. It's much safer to speak in generalities at first anyway. People think you're weird if you get too specific or seem to know everything about a subject. There's no room for discussion. They think you think you're an expert, and the relationship is over before it begins.

Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil (necessary to cook the dry noodles). Bake in 375-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for at least one hour, maybe 1 1/4 hours, depending on the number of layers. Uncover pan (carefully! the trapped steam is very hot) and add enough grated mozzarella cheese to cover sauce. Return pan to oven and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for another 15 minutes or until cheese browns.

This is a dish suitable for guests, best served with a mixed green salad, some French or Italian bread drizzled with olive oil, and a bottle of dry red wine. Of note, it also works fairly well with the Chronobiotic nutrition plan that SAM and I are trying. It's a "shrub" dish (please see my earlier post). The eggs and the onion are the only exceptions to the rule of "shrub" since they're both considered "roots."
Peanut, the Skate-on-the-Stairs Cat
I must say that since I started on the Chronobiotic plan I've gotten a little lighter on my feet, to the tune of about four pounds, which is a very good thing. Peanut certainly keeps me on my toes, and I've gotten more adept at sidestepping things in my path. That includes conforming to the Onion Theory. I'd rather talk about lasagna.

The laminae have more stamina
The lamellae aren't as smelly
These layers are oh-so nice
When you're trying to break the ice

Friday, November 25, 2011

Florida Sinkhole: Thoughts About Writing

Big Dismal Sink at Leon Sinks Geological Area, November 20, 2011

The depths to which you've sunk before,
The heights you scale today
These things are fit to talk about
The future's not okay

The water level in your swamp
Will drop before your eyes
The world made aware of it
Will cut it down to size

The vast majority of viewers
Wish you nothing but the best
It's the malcontent will take you down
The Heathcliff, hand in vest

It's nothing new and often seen
This saprophytic rite
The feeding on the fallen log
It's natural...all right?

So keep it light and funny
And laugh away the dark
Distract the negativity
Don't feed it any snark

The sign you've sent the malcontent
Is clear for all to see
The all who wish you always well
Enjoy your cup of "T."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bystander Weekend in America: Have You 'Herd'?

Our bystander weekend in America started last Friday in Pensacola, but the beach wasn't where we started standing by. While SAM used a paid vacation day and I adjusted my schedule, Son and Daughter-in-law both took a half-day off without pay for something that took five years to realize: Daughter-in-law's naturalization ceremony for U.S. citizenship. Freedom in America ain't free. In fact, it's fairly expensive. There's the cost of the application itself, legal assistance if you're confused by the process, as well as frequent travel to and from immigration offices. Our DIL had to go to back and forth to New Orleans and Jacksonville several times over the past several years to prove something. Lawful resident status, I guess?

According to the Honorable Roger Vinson, District Judge, who presided over the occasion, citizenship is an equal opportunity, not a commodity. In other words, it can't be bought or sold. Several snickers proceeding from the peanut gallery (the result of a standing-room-only crowd) made it clear that not everyone in the room believed him. Yours truly was one of the peanut gallery bystanders. The incredulous behavior probably comes from being primed. Reading things like The EB5 Path to Citizenship (Invest One Million Dollars in Florida Real Estate, and You're In!) tends to make you wonder where this country is headed. That EB5 Visa thing is nothing new, by the way. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has been stacking the deck in favor of wealth and fame (officially) since 1991. Bystander effect, indeed. Really, what can one of the herd do about any of it? Shut up and pay your taxes, I guess.

We are very proud of DIL for all of her hard work and patient effort to gain citizenship. She's one in a million.
After all of that standing by, shoeless, sore-footed SAM and I picked up our grandson from daycare and headed for the beach, and Son and DIL went to work. Grandson had to miss the ceremony. Can you imagine a 4-year-old standing and waiting patiently and quietly for hours while a bunch of people spoke of and listened teary-eyed to things like "true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution of the United States? I'm of the opinion that every U.S. citizen, not just the naturalized ones, should have to swear this oath at one point or another. It's prime stuff for thinking about service, integrity, honor, freedom, responsibility...And then there were the songs. Dr. Leo Day sang The Star Spangled Banner to begin the morning's proceedings and ended them by singing America the Beautiful in English, Spanish, and German. There's nothing like music to reinforce some powerful ideas.

While I walked around and sifted and stored some more ideas in my already overloaded brain files, SAM and Grandson dug something up from a hole in the sand.

Ghost crab (Ocypode quadrata) on the beach at Pensacola Pass

We joked with Grandson about having crab for supper. He was having none of our nonsense. The crab was set free and claimed by the sea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chronobiotic Nutrition--Just-in-Time Eating from a Gardener's Perspective

Many years ago when I was preparing for a career in food-service management, I ran across a useful concept developed by Japanese manufacturers: Just-in-time production. It's defined by the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge as "a management philosophy and not a technique." Originally referring to the "production of goods to meet customer demand exactly in time, quality and quantity," it's now used by many management professionals as a "means of producing with minimum waste," which is understood to include time, resources, and materials. Does it sound like a win-win scenario? Japan's own Toyota Corporation sure thought so and implemented this philosophy dreamed up by Taiichi Ohno, now known as the Father of JIT.

At that time in my life, it (JIT) was just another acronym--skeleton of a word--to absorb and memorize for a test. Now I understand its full implication for me as a gardener, a consumer, a wife, a mother, a student...
Looking at the picture of SAM and me in my last post gave me an idea. Why not use time to improve the way we consume food and thereby enhance our productivity and, ultimately, appearance? I'm talkin' bloat here, right now.

Over the years, I've noticed that if I eat certain foods at certain times of the day, my digestive system strongly objects. Ahem! I could clear a room in five seconds, if you know what I mean. I didn't understand the correlation between time and food. Now I do.

According to Marcella Vonn Harting's book "Yes, No, Maybe" Chronobiotic Nutrition, instead of dieting, we should be concerned with "being on time in time all the time" and "celebrate eating foods at precise times of day for specific health results." Our body processes, as in every living thing, are governed by circadian rhythms. Light and darkness affect us mentally, physically, and behaviorally. They also affect the things that grow that we consume: plants and animals. The sun and the moon, solar and lunar effects, somehow tell our bodies when to produce certain enzymes, hormones, and proteins that keep us going, strong or not, depending on what and, most importantly, when we ingest.

I'm about a third of the way through the book and just started following the dietary recommendations at the beginning of this week, so it's too early to tell if things are changing for the better. And this week is a strange one in the scheme of things. The last few days' schedule are a little mixed up. Ordinarily, we would eat "Tree" things like tree fruits and nuts first thing in the morning; "Shrub" things like veggies, vine fruits, meat protein, and dairy products for lunch; and "Root" items like carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, seafood, and eggs for dinner. The first few days before the full moon and the first few days after it mix things up. Right now we're supposed to be eating "Roots" in the morning. Okay, eggs and potatoes seem like good breakfast items but shrimp, carrots, and onions? SAM is not entirely on board with this idea. He's a little concerned about the onions I added to the mix this morning. They're somewhat of a deterrent to social interaction, especially at the office. 

Crystallized Ginger
 Before he headed out the door with his lunch of an apple, pear, assorted nuts, and shaved coconut, I handed him a small bag of these homemade goodies: Crystallized ginger slices. Guaranteed to freshen breath and aid digestion but for optimal results probably best consumed before 11:30 a.m. They're in the root category, after all.

SAM's fluorite octahedron

Now if only rocks like this octahedron were part of the plan, SAM the geologist would be grateful for my efforts to improve our nutrition. Nah, they're too pretty and, according to SAM, valuable to eat.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Just Stopping By--Dead Man's Sink and Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies on Baccharis halimifolia (salt-marsh elder aka Consumption Weed)

Secret Aging Man (SAM) and I both agreed on Saturday morning that we were ready for a change of scenery. How about the Aucilla River Sinks Trail? I had received a forwarded e-mail from someone earlier in the week. It promoted an upcoming field trip to this place, known for its abundance of wildflowers and unusual geologic features. Perfect for us! we thought--that is, until we met the man in the cherry-red truck.

Josh, he said his name was, and, now that I think about it, I don't think the name was a coincidence. We were lost, you see, having driven down dusty back roads for the better part of three hours. The map we had printed from an Internet site was pathetic, and the Suwannee Water Management District signs weren't very helpful either. True to our low-tech nature, we didn't have a GPS device on hand to direct our course and pinpoint our destination. Enter Josh, the man in the truck. Ya'll aren't from around here. Plannin' to drive that car down these here roads? Why yes, we're looking for this trail, you see, and we've been driving down these roads for a while now, looking for it...

Monarch butterflies not too proud to share the feast with some Common Buckeyes

He told SAM to pull up behind him just past the intersection of two more dusty roads. They both got out of the vehicles, he proceeded to introduce himself and his "wife" (who looked about 14 years old, according to SAM), and then he gestured in the direction of one part of the trail. The men walked several yards in that direction, and I missed most of the rest of their conversation while I waited in the car. I did hear something about Dead Man's Sink, people never being seen again after straying too far from the main road, and this here bein' drug runnin' country. By the time SAM made it back to the car, I had already made up my mind. Let's skip the Sinks Trail and go to St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge instead.

We were both glad we did, because the Monarch butterflies were just stopping by on the way to Mexico, and the Muhly grass was showing off its pretty pink fluffiness all over the place.
Muhlenbergia capillaris seen at St. Mark's NWR

After driving around for hours, a walk was just what we needed. It was a sunny and very windy afternoon. Unlike Maria in James Joyce's story "Clay" (Dubliners), by the time we were ready to go home I wasn't "coloured with shame and vexation and disappointment" for having lost something because of confusion--plumcake in her case, time in ours. My cheeks were almost as rosy as Muhly grass from the sun, the wind...

Love is...a blind--for bird watchers

and the afternoon's adventure shared with my cohort in confusion.

SAM and Walk2Write on a trail at St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge

(I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls...But I also dreamt, which pleased me most, That you loved me still the same...)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Progressively Profligate Pumpkins

"When Pumpkins Drink" Original Source: Unknown. 

I know. It's shocking. I thought I should warn you in case you're planning a Halloween party. The repeal of the popular-with-Progressives 18th Amendment (Prohibition or Volstead Act) should have excluded pumpkins. They are, after all, naturally seedy characters and prone to this sort of behavior. Keep your sharp knives, booze, and car keys as far away from those pumpkins as possible.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Sorry For Being Such a Lazy Blogger, But I'm Still on Twitter!

You know how people put themselves on budgets to stop wasting so much money and maybe save some of it? I've never been good at budgeting money. Hey, I came of age when people in the U.S. started thinking that money grew on trees. Maybe they (we) were right. If there's not enough in the Treasury to pay the bills, just borrow like there's no tomorrow and print more of it!

Now instead of just money (or the lack thereof) being a problem for me, time has entered into the picture. Or rather, it has fled the scene. So I don't get to prepare those elaborate posts like I used to, and I don't get around to visiting my blogging friends like I used to. Bummer!

Anyway, since I have a time deficit, I thought the best way to make more of it (for blogging) was to save it for important stuff. I'll let you know when I figure out what that might be. In the meantime, you can still find me on Twitter, tweeting about things I find interesting. Check out the new button on my sidebar. Please stop by and say hi on Twitter. And if you tweet, let me know. I'll try to keep up with your chirps or whatever they're called. Birds of a feather, you know?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Down to One Comment? 'Nuff Said.

Down to one comment? Well, there was that odd so-and-so I deleted who said something about American women not being worth their salt. Would it be weird to say that I've been waiting for this moment? The time when comments of mine haven't exactly been spilling over to fill someone else's cup. Or the time when my thoughts haven't been vibrating at exactly (let's be real: not even close to) the same frequency as the places where those comments are frequently made? It must be something in the water or the air. Or should I call 1-800-BAD-DRUG? Gotta blame someone or something. Nah! Just the fact that human nature is fickle, blogs are finite, and life goes on in a different direction.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Anguish in a Crowd, Do You Hear?: Things in the News That Fire the Imagination and Make a Sound

If you live in New York or somehow keep up with the news (Internet, television, newspapers), you know there's a lot of stuff going on. Things to fire the imagination, if nothing else. Besides the Palestinian statehood issue being discussed at the United Nations, former President Bill Clinton is heading up his annual Global Initiative meeting. Today marks the last day for panel discussions among leaders from around the world. Lots of interesting topics on the agenda. It's not yesterday's news. You can watch it and hear it happening live right now. Better hurry, though. Time's almost up. Then it will be history. Stuff to write about.

One hundred days from today, the year will end. There were as many days left in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 1863. Ever wonder how the idea of slavery stoked the American literary imagination during that time and even before when the Fugitive Slave Law was in effect? It's not difficult to find plenty of examples. Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier, Emily Dickinson....

Poets with an ear to the ground, listening to friends, neighbors, pastors, families talk about their fears, hopes, and plans for their place in this country's future. Poets reading the newspaper articles that carried details of bloody battles like the one at Antietam. Letters from loved ones wounded on the front lines made it clear. From a military standpoint, that particular battle was a draw, meaning nobody lost or won. From the standpoint of political strategists on the Union side, it was declared a victory (Lee withdrew his troops) and gave Lincoln the fuel he needed to stoke the fire of public opinion. An Emancipation Proclamation, an Executive Order, was written, not a repealable thing, and the rest is history.

One Anguish--in a Crowd--
A Minor thing--it sounds--
And yet, unto the single Doe
Attempted of the Hounds

'Tis Terror as consummate
As Legions of Alarm
Did leap, full flanked, upon the Host--
'Tis Units--make the Swarm--

A Small Leech--on the Vitals--
The sliver, in the Lung--
The Bung out--of an Artery--
Are scarce accounted--Harms--

Yet mighty--by relation
To that Repealless thing--
A Being--impotent to end--
When once it has begun--

(a poem by Emily Dickinson, c. 1862)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moon to Earth: Testing 1, 2, 3?

Tuesday, in case you didn't know, was a full moon day. Nothing out of the ordinary. A full moon appears with great regularity. If it didn't, we'd be in a boatload of trouble. Tides wouldn't occur as scheduled. The whole rhythm of the planet would be off, and time wouldn't occur as we know it. The moon has such an effect on the Earth that the rate at which we are spinning around the sun is slowing ever so gradually while the moon's rotation is accelerating. According to this site,, it's only about 1.5 milliseconds per century, but the moon is ascending to a higher orbit at the rate of 3.8 cm per year. The Earth is in a constant state of torque, thanks to the moon.

As SAM was leaving for work Tuesday morning, the sun's appearance on the eastern horizon was heralded--or was it eclipsed?--by the setting of the moon in the western sky. The sight of it was just too beautiful to ignore.

Tuesday evening, I was sharing a meal with a group of people. We were celebrating the end of one term and looking forward to the beginning of another. One of the women in the group asked me how I had done on a test the night before. I had missed one question. I hate you, she said. Really? No. She laughed. She didn't mean it. Still, the words somehow stung. Should I fail so that someone else can feel good about herself?

Last week, another woman in our group started a lively discussion with one of those "what if" questions. She asked us if we (the women in the group) would be willing to carry someone else's baby (an implanted embryo, previously frozen) if the mother of the egg and the father of the sperm were unable to conceive in the usual fashion. While we puzzled over the question, she added that allowing the pregnancy to proceed would keep the embryo from being discarded. Various opinions were voiced, and even the instructor chimed in. An Arab-American and devout Muslim, he agreed with me that life is sacred but added that it would be foolish and just plain wrong for a woman to carry someone else's baby inside of her womb. If the real parents could not have a child in the normal way, it must be some kind of test for them. Warping their usual orbit around each other. Making life just a little less harmonious, synchronicity askew. Causing them to ask. Why?

Life does that to us. Torquing, twisting, testing...1, 2, 3. I remember my dad, with a wry smile, asking, Why me, Lord? whenever something bad happened to him. He used to tell a joke about a nice guy named Marvin whose whole world began to fall apart around him. Marvin would ask the Lord why? but was always met with silence. His friends had plenty of reasons why and weren't shy about sharing them. They thought Marvin had become such a loser because he had done something wrong. Marvin kept denying it and proclaimed his innocence. No one believed him. According to the joke, not even the Lord did. Finally, the Lord spoke to Marvin and his friends. There's just something about you, Marvin, that really pisses me off.

My dad usually had a great sense of humor, but I never thought that joke was funny. It's a perversion of the book of Job in the Bible. The part about the friends is true and so is Job's claim of innocence. I guess it's difficult to believe that anyone could be that righteous. Unstained. Faithful. Impossible? Why?

If I have put my trust in gold
   or said to pure gold, 'you are my security,'
if I have rejoiced over my great wealth,
   the fortune my hands had gained,
if I have regarded the sun in its radiance
   or the moon moving in splendor,
so that my heart was secretly enticed
   and my hand offered them a kiss of homage,
then these also would be sins to be judged,
   for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.

If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune
   or gloated over the trouble that came to him---
I have not allowed my mouth to sin
   by invoking a curse against his life---

(Book of Job, 31:24-30) 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Make It Happen, Boat Cap'n--at Navarre Beach!

Make It Happen, Boat Cap'n!

Somebody celebrated a birthday this week. Since she missed someone else's birthday celebration back in May, complete with a "party barge and brownies and cupcakes" per his request, she had a bright idea. Make it happen again. Boat Cap'n. Only this time there would be sandwiches, chips, and cookies. And this time the boat didn't set sail from Destin Harbor. Navarre Beach is more her style. More laid-back. Fewer people. Less expensive.

View of the bridge across Santa Rosa Sound to Navarre Beach from the Best Western on Highway 98.

She is, after all, of the age where night life is now defined by a comfortable bed, quiet, and lights out by 10 p.m. The other day she asked a couple of much younger friends to guess the year of her birth. I'll give you a hint, she said. It was the year John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States. They were stumped. She didn't think it would help to add that the year ushered in a decade of literary jewels like To Kill A Mockingbird, Catch-22, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. According to this excellent website that chronicles America's cultural history, people, especially the younger crowd, were being drawn like flies to the idea of change in that decade. No, not that stuff that's left in your pocket after you get to pay your fair share these days.

And it's not "the change" often dreaded or maybe anticipated by women of a certain age. Speaking of drawing flies, there were some sort of blood-sucking critters taking over the beach for most of the weekend. The only way to avoid them was to keep on the move or jump in the water. The birthday girl and her party did a fair amount of both...

...whenever they could convince Boat Cap'n to give up on the fishing. If the flies were biting, the fish sure weren't.
One thing that hasn't changed much since the birthday girl first moved to Northwest Florida eight years ago is the amount of development at Navarre Beach. There's no pass like at Destin or Pensacola to enter the Gulf of Mexico so there's no fleet of fishing vessels or hordes of tourists clamoring to charter them. No fancy yachts here.

Tourists who do visit Navarre (and like it) don't mind stepping out of their room to see snapped off trees in a vacant lot next to the hotel--remnants of some hurricane or tropical storm that blew by. Sunrise has a way of softening the effect.

The early bird gets a good spot on the beach too. Even later in the day there aren't any bad spots on the beach. A state park occupies a large chunk of prime beachfront property. According to a gentleman who was out early picking up what little trash had accumulated from the night before, there will soon be artificial reefs in place here for fish to hide in and for snorkelers to explore. He's been a resident of Navarre since the mid 90s and looks forward to this kind of change. A gentle tweaking of the natural beauty rather than a facelift, tummy tuck, or breast enhancement.

Locals and tourists alike enjoy visiting the Gulf's longest fishing pier at Navarre Beach. The pier is celebrating its first anniversary. It had to be rebuilt anyway after being hammered repeatedly by storms a few years back so why not make it the longest? Before the birthday girl headed back to Tallahassee (after doing a drive-by snooting of the old homestead to see if the tenants have changed anything else by landscape looting), she and the original boat cap'n stopped by the pier to purchase some coffee. It was too early for beer...

Navarre Beachside Church

...and it was Sunday morning. If it hadn't been for the biting flies and the drive-by snooting still on the day's agenda, this church without walls would have been a fine place to spend an hour or two. The wind carried the sound of worship music and prayer all the way out to the end of the Gulf's longest fishing pier.