August 30, 2009

Behold, His Majesty, The Dahlia Lama

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — geoff @ 8:57 pm

Good morning and greetings, Ted Kennedy fans. The Senator from Massachusetts passing was a sad day and the final note played by three incredible brothers.

On Wednesday morning, I was strolling along West Cliff Drive, wondering what to feature in this week’s photo funhouse. Pelicans were cruising by over the tops of the waves, causing me to pause in my tracks and gaze at the magnificence of these prehistoric looking creatures. I immediately thought, only along the edge of the continent do you see this kind of magic. Or on PBS, the Pelican Broadcasting System.

At the same time, the sky was a dull gray, unlike the exciting gray of my New York Giants sweatshirt. But soon this drabness turned to excitement, the same kind Alexander Graham Bell must have felt when he called for Watson to get the hell in there. I knew what I wanted to bring to the Sunrise Santa Cruz table. No, not the usual Chinese buffet with egg rolls, beef chow fun and sweet and sour chicken. It was serving up an entree of fabulous color for my cyber audience at early bird prices. And you don’t even need to bring a coupon.

Then on Thursday, the weather broke and we had deep blue skies and wild-looking clouds along the coast. And it was hot! How hot was it? A saw a dog walking after a cat. I thought this change may have signaled the start of our annual Indian Summer, which is not to be confused with Native American winter. But that was not the case as the following day the thermometer hit 99 degrees on the central coast, breaking the previous record of 97 set in 1962. All this heat was the result of a high-pressure system that had double parked along the coast, essentially shutting off the usual Pacific Ocean breeze. It was so hot that even my goldfish were sweating.

Friday morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise, as the sky glowed orange to the east and pink to the west. Unfortunately, I was still camera-less as I believe the parts required to fix my digital Rebel are coming to Santa Cruz by rowboat. It was the first color-coordinated morning of the summer and it was painful not to shoot it but as the Dalai Lama once told me, the sun will rise again. So I’ve got that going for me, which is good.

Let’s continue with Disney’s wonderful world of color. As I drive along the westside, I pass a front yard that explodes with pinks and reds-it is dahlia city. Ah, dahlias. They are spectacular summer and autumn flowering plants who are native to the mountains of Mexico, Central America and certain sections of the New Jersey shore. It is also the national flower of Mexico and goes quite well with any kind of quesadilla, be it cheese, chicken or my personal favorite, carne asada.

In the 16th century Spanish conquistadors, while busy pillaging and wiping out the Aztec Indian nation, took some time out from their conquering and listening to Charo CD’s to get in touch with their feminine side. In between their dividing and conquering they managed to do a little exploring and turned these little side trips into a collection of new world plant life, Spanish rice and the first Antonio Banderas film festival.

The dahlia is named after 18th century Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, who was a very attractive man. It was actually from him that the expression was coined, “Hey, dahlface.” But I digress. In 1872, a box of dahlia roots were sent by FedEx overnight from Mexico to the Netherlands. Only one of the plants and a Three Muskateers bar survived the long journey, but it produced brilliant red flowers with petals that were pointed, rolled back and were later big hits at Christopher Columbus book signing events.

Nurserymen, nursery school teachers and hair stylists from all over Europe bred from this one plant. These are the progenitors of the thousands of varieties of today’s modern day dahlias. Colors include orange, pink, purple, red, scarlet, yellow, white and apples, peaches and pumpkin pie, the last three courtesy of Jay and the Techniques.

I shot these photos on a foggy morning, thus the shots of dew on the petals are particularly prevalent in photos 3 & 4. Or as Jerry Garcia once said to Mountain Girl, “Walk me out in the morning dew, my honey.” Well, that’s it on the flower power front. Time for me to just kick back, pop some kettle corn and watch that Clint Eastwood classic, “A Fistful of Dahlias.”

Onto the some political humor. And it’s all from CBS’s late night king, David Letterman. “Congress has been agonizing over health care for months now. Squabbling, fighting, the town hall meetings going crazy. Meanwhile, while they’re arguing about health care, we’re stuck in two wars that were rubber-stamped in about 10 minutes. What? How does that make any sense when you think about it? The Obamas taking a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. When something like that happens, it’s like a big deal for the community. And people on Martha’s Vineyard are going crazy and they’re buying Obama T-shirts, they’re buying Obama mugs, they’re buying Obama caps. The only thing they’re not buying is Obama’s health-care plan.”

“You folks excited about the Afghanistan election? Well, don’t get too excited because there’s already reports of irregularities in Broward and Dade County. The current Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is opposed by the Taliban. You know the Taliban? Over here, the Taliban, we call them healthcare protestors. But one of the guys on the ballot is a candidate named Abdullah Abdullah. He had what I thought was a great campaign slogan if you’re running for office in Afghanistan. You know the slogan? It’s ‘Is your goat better off today than it was four years ago?”

“But the Miss Universe pageant is fascinating. It’s judged on poise, judged on beauty, and also how you walk in high heels. What a coincidence, it’s also how the Republicans pick a vice presidential candidate. The same criteria. But you know, this is a great thing about the United States of America. We take any situation, make it something good. You know, we are a glass half full country. Mrs. Paul’s, the fish sticks people, they heard about the mercury in the fish and they’ve come out now with a tasty new fish stick which you can also use to take your temperature.” –David Letterman

So that’s it for our last blast of August, 2009. Coming up is September, which is the warmest temperature month of the year in Santa Cruz but more importantly, signals the start of NFL football. So enjoy the warm days and nights and we’ll catch you somewhere near the foul pole in right field. And be thankful for your good health. Aloha, mahalo and later, Don Mattingly fans.


  1. Quite the post to end the month – those are some good looking flowers and what a back story, who knew the Spanish conquistadors had a feminine side?. Can’t imagine what you’ll do when you get your camera back – meanwhile it looks like you’ve got plenty of stuff left in the freezer; like mother, like son I guess…

    Comment by Robinson Cano — August 31, 2009 @ 7:43 am

  2. These days it’s getting harder to stop and smell the flowers. Somehow, they haven’t figured out how to download the scents over the Internet, but I’m sure they’re working on it.

    Comment by Salvador Dahlia — August 31, 2009 @ 10:32 am

  3. the flowers and the title are awesome, today.

    Comment by Wendi — August 31, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  4. The flowers are amazing! Could I get one for my room?

    Comment by aimee — September 7, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

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