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.

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.