December 19, 2010

Are You Swedish? No, I’m Finished.

Good morning and greetings, Johnny Winter fans. We’re winding down the year here at Sunrise Santa Cruz as the end of 2010 rapidly approaches. But before we do, I want to mention a couple of celestial events coming up on the calendar as a free service to my non-paying subscribers.

Early on Tuesday morning, the full moon will pass through the shadow of the earth, producing one of the most beautiful shows the skies this side of “My Fair Lady,” a total eclipse of the moon. This is not to be confused with a total eclipse of the heart or when I blew off Carly Simon to fly up to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun. Okay, so maybe I was a little vain.

Then 16 hours later at 6:38 EST, after a marvelous night for a moon dance, the sun will reach a point where it will appear to shine farthest to the south of the equator, which will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn and just south of the island of Tongatapu, where I normally do most of my holiday shopping for mumus. This will mark the moment of solstice, when winter officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere and I celebrate by ironing my warmer shorts.

It was Randy Newman who said “short people have no reason to live,” but they can rejoice on Tuesday as it will be the shortest day of the year. And it was Dr. Phil who said it is always darkest before dawn, and beginning on Wednesday, the days grow longer and the nights grow stronger than moonshine. I learned that as I traveled down the Ventura Highway in the sunshine with the free wind blowin’ thru my hair. God bless America.

So with the days and my attention span winding down, what have I learned this year? My first thought is very little, as it’s possible I’ve forgotten more than has entered my medulla oblongata. They say you’re not getting older, you’re getting wiser. Take my word for it, I’m just getting older.

Alright, maybe I’ve learned a few things. Actually, it’s not that I’ve gained any new insights, it’s just that what’s important has edged closer to the forefront of my mind. I’ll go with my top three, because any more than that and I’ll start channeling Oprah.

Number one on my hit list of importance is health. You can have all the money in the world, and if you do, please contact me. My wife had some major health issues last year, and a day doesn’t go by that when I wake up I’m not grateful that she’s healthy. Well, that and the fact the she doesn’t kick me anymore when I snore. For a while, I felt like a pinata on that mattress, and I would have told her to stop but wanted the candy.

Number two is family. I’ve got an entourage of parents, brothers, half-brothers, sister-in-laws, step-sisters, cousins and an aunt, uncle and Johnny Drama. Many have known me pretty much from the start as a young boy growing up in Appalachia, and there’s something special about someone who knows where you’ve been and is alway going to know where you’re going.

Number three is friends, and I’m not talking about Courtney Cox or the lovely Jennifer Aniston. Friends may come and go, but the great ones stick around. They’re different from family because there is no blood obligation. Of course, some come with baggage, but since I’m not a sky cap, I don’t deal with that. Friends melt in your heart, not in your hands.

So for our final photo expedition of 2010, we journey back to a gentler, simpler time, back before we all got so caught up in our daily lives that we sometimes forget what’s really important. I’m talking December 7th of this month. The sky was lining up to put on a better show than Janet Jackson at halftime of the Super Bowl XXXVIII, and I was not upset when the heavens didn’t malfunction.

The canvas of colors started slowly, but once the sky started to glow it was just outstanding. For me as a photographer, humanitarian and former hand model, photo number five is what it’s all about. Just a wonderful moment to be alive and living on the planet. For a sunrise and sunset boy like myself, it doesn’t get much better than this.

The last shot is of another photographer who was lucky enough to be taking in the sights that night. I wanted to showcase the color of the clouds as the reflection blazed on the sand. All in all, a fantastic night on the digital front. This is one I’m glad I didn’t miss.

Here’s our final salute to the late night. “According to a new poll, 51 percent of Americans feel that their lives were better two years ago before President Obama took office. To which President Obama said, ‘Join the club.’” –Jay Leno “Today President Obama met with a group of top CEOs to discuss creating new jobs. They said they’d see what they could do and then all went back to China.” –Conan O’Brien “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had to go to the hospital today because of a kidney stone. On the bright side, the stone was the first thing in months passed by a member of the Obama administration.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Time magazine is now ranking the best tweets of the year and, according to Time, the best tweet for 2010 was written by John McCain. Experts say it’s even more impressive because McCain thought he was opening his garage door. Anderson Cooper has announced that the title of his new show is just ‘Anderson.’ I think I speak for everyone here at ‘Conan’ when I say, ‘God, what an ego on that guy!’ Ukraine announced plans to open Chernobyl, their nuclear disaster site, to tourists. They say it’s just like Disneyland, except the 6-foot mouse is real.” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s our final blast for the year. I’m going to take a week off and head out to Palm Desert for some relaxation, revitalization and hopefully a few revelations about why the corn beef tastes so good at Sherman’s Deli.

But before that, birthday wishes go out to my oldest friend, Steve Margolin, who hits the big 58 on Wednesday. Steve and I go way back, as we’re talking pitching duels in Little League, train rides to Amsterdam and late night runs to Hop Kee in New York’s Chinatown for those sweet and sour memories. We both grew up in Anderson Avenue in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and not a day goes by where he doesn’t beg me to come back.

So thanks for tuning in this year. I hope you’ve been enjoying the ride and that my words have added some joy to your life. We’ll return with some spectacular desert action in 2011. In the meantime, be good to yourselves and we’ll catch you at the goal line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dwyane Wade fans.

December 12, 2010

Hungry? No, Thanks, I Just Fifty-Eight

Good morning and greetings, December fans. We’re fortunate here on the central coast, as while much of the country is blanketed under snow and ice, we’re quietly relaxing in our flannel shorts. Personally, I would prefer a tropical lifestyle because if I never put on a jacket again that would be too soon.

For those of you keeping weather maps at home, it recently snowed 95 straight hours in Syracuse, New York. The snow then stopped briefly before starting again. Oh, how I long for those early college days in the snowfall capital of the U.S.. The only blizzard I want these days can be found on the menu at the Dairy Queen.

So let’s cut right to the chase. Yesterday was my 58th birthday. Holy almost six decades, Batman. Of course, that number, like my dreams of not being prepared for tests, falls somewhere between disconcerting and terrifying, but I’m so glad it’s not yet 60, because that just semi-freaks me out. And yet, I sense that 870 days from now that gift will too arrive on my doorstep.

So what have I accomplished in my first five decades plus eight years on earth? Well, I have known my wife for 31 years and we’ve been married for 22. Yes, I may have been a tad impulsive rushing into marriage after nine years, but like John McCain, that’s just the maverick in me.

When I first met Allison she was 19 and I used to make her go sit in her teenage corner. Now she makes sure I don’t leave the house without my AARP card. It’s the whole ying and yankee thing. In three decades we have never argued, disagreed. raised our voices, or even had a fight. Well, maybe there was that one spat from from 1980 thru 1992, but that was nothing a federal mediator couldn’t have solved with a little arbitration.

I think the secret has been our interests. She has always been a sports nut, while for me, if a game is on I’ll watch it, but it’s not like I’m going to spend every week and weekend of every year for the past thirty watching some form of sports. I mean, what kind of life would that be?

So in the words of the Captain and Toni Tennille, love has kept us together, but to quote Ringo Starr, you know “it don’t come easy.” Our marriage is still a work in progress, and it’s a pleasure going to office every day.

As far as I know, our union has produced two children. Jason is taller, smarter, more sensitive, a better shooter, driver, leaper, jump server, spiker, no-look passer than his father, although I may have had a slight edge in defensive intensity on the basketball court back before there was history. He has been like a son to me and his future is so bright, his AP biology teacher has to wear sunglasses.

Aimee is my youngest and my blondest. Although she is a lefty, I see so much of her in me, from her love of lotions, sense of humor and most importantly, sense of fashion. She has the bluest eyes since Sinatra, and has the gift of evoking laughter.

I always knew that one day she would be a woman. What I didn’t realize was that she would be a teenager before that. But I am slowly adjusting to the fact that she is now a young woman and that I can unload the shotgun in my trunk. She is quite the character and is going to grow into someone really special.

These two are my greatest accomplishments. I regret that I never finished law or medical school, but that was because I never applied. When I think about what I’m proudest of, it’s all my children. They are both unique individuals, not two peas in a pod like me and Allison, and to watch them grow and discover what this world is all about, for the most part, is a fascinating thing to see. And I’ve got a front row seat.

Now I could go on and on for at least two or three more sentences listing my accomplishments, but this is a blog, not a book, so enough’s enough. Let’s move on to the photography front, as I have saved these particular images for the celebration of the day I left the warmth of the amniotic fluid, exited the birth canal, came into this world in a breached fashion and declared, “okay, let’s see what this breast feeding deal is all about.” But just my luck, access denied.

Two weeks ago, we were treated to back-to-back days of phenomenal sunrises and sunsets. The first two images are from the color explosion from the last morning of November. It was a great way to close out the month, as orange was served for breakfast.

For the rest of the day, the clouds went wild in the sky. Even without consulting my psychic, I knew that evening’s sunset would be off the charts. But at the same time, I was aware that Jason had his first basketball game that night, and with an early tipoff, something had to give. But that’s okay, because sports trump nature and only God can make a three.

So as the sun started its journey towards the horizon an amazing thing happened. No, the game wasn’t delayed an hour. Before the sun actually set, the clouds starting changing color. This was something I cannot recall ever seeing, as they were so full of aerial pigmentation that they needed to get a headstart on their twilight performance. At this point, I had to enter the gym, but my friend Dan sent me some shots from Seacliff Beach of the root beer-colored ocean followed by a brilliant crimson red sky that was just outstanding.

The first dawn of December brought us the next two images. Nothing really needs to be said besides, “wow”. It was just a spectacular morning. And we wind up the photo finish with the sunset from that evening, which in retrospect, was not the worst way to begin or end the day. I guess you could even call it liveable. I love those daily doubles in the sky, because unlike George Costanza from “Seinfeld”, we’re allowed to double dip.

Now here’s some late nite fun. “Willie Nelson was arrested for possession of marijuana. Nothing yet on bin Laden, but we got Willie Nelson.” –David Letterman “Because of a printing error, a billion new $100 bills have to be destroyed. They’re going to burn $100 billion dollars — just like they did with the last stimulus program.” –Jay Leno “Iran began holding talks with the six world powers. Participants were the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, and Oprah.” –Conan O’Brien

“‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ was just on. According to a recent poll, most Americans think Charlie Brown is a Muslim.” –David Letterman “Part-time Governor Sarah Palin shot and killed a reindeer on last week’s TV show. And that was her Christmas special. Took her three shots. Well, she’s rusty. Last thing she brought down was John McCain.” –David Letterman “It looks like the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich will continue, due to a strong Republican leader, Barack Obama. Today Obama changed his slogan from ‘Yes we can’ to ‘Yes, we caved.’ It’s so bad for him, now Democrats want to see his birth certificate.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our first blast for December. Birthday wishes go out yesterday to my former radio partner and wing man Jerry Hoffman, who’s celebrating up in Whistler, British Columbia and probably flying down the slopes on a toboggan as we speak. And today’s it’s my old westside friend Carol Conta, who when she used to roller skate by my house on West Cliff was always awarded a ’10′ by the Russian judges. And on Wednesday it’s my basketball buddy Jim Berry, who few people know actually taught Kareem the sky hook and was recently named the nicest guy living in the south county.

So we may blast out one more blog next week or just shut it down for the year and return on January 4. Shot a another beautiful sunset last week that we may have to close out the year on. Either way, enjoy the sports week and we’ll catch you in the left flat. Aloha, mahalo and later, Amar’e Stoudemire fans.

December 5, 2010

I’m Dreaming Of A White Hanukah

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 3:07 pm

Good morning and greetings, festival of light fans. That’s right, we’re down to the twelfth month of the year, which is prime time sunrise, sunset and good will hunting season. There was tremendous action in the sky last week, and we’ll be checking out those fantabulous moments in upcoming posts. Today we’ll be viewing the whiter shade of pale, because as voyeurs of this site know, variety and paprika are the spice of life.

But before we head to the photo booth, I thought I would continue with a sequel to last week’s theme of things I am grateful for. Like having the time and somewhat sound mind to pen these words. Things like the sound of rain, the wind whistling through the trees or a leaf blower on a cloudless, sunny day. Those special memories, special moments, or in the words of 38 Special, “hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling to tightly, you’re gonna loose control.” This words actually have nothing to do with my previous thought, I just love that song.

So what am I really grateful for? Well, for starters, I’m grateful that I can see, because if I couldn’t, I would have missed my son Jason’s 24-point performance in his basketball season opener. As I like to tell my friends and life counselor, I don’t get to see him take his calculus or biology tests, but I do get to watch him glide into the frontcourt, drive into the lane, hang in the air and knock down a jumper. In the words of Joyce Kilmer, “I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a three. Pointer that is, and we’re talking all net.

I’m grateful that I’m still able to laugh on alternate parking days. I definitely don’t laugh, chuckle or guffaw as much as I used to, as I find as I get older that the stress of life affects my propensity for focusing on the lighter moments. The negative is just so much more comfy. I can remember with great clarity the most hilarious moments of my life, when the laughter just would not stop. This would not include any moments with the stomach flu, taking the SAT’s or any math class after eighth grade.

I am grateful to be able to hear, although if I had an nickel for every time during the day that I say “what”, I could easily afford that shetland pony I’ve always wanted. I think what I love most is hearing the sound of my children laughing. Listening to those sounds of teenage joy means my wife and I have done something right as parents or that they’ve gotten their hands on the laughing gas again.

I am grateful that I’m able to walk, because every weekday morning Allison and I parade along West Cliff Drive, admiring the light in the sky, the waves that have traveled thousand of miles and the people who don’t clean up after their dogs along the path. Not everyone has this mobility and so many people never make it to the edge. Others go beyond and never come back. I’ve always lived by the motto, walk softly but let someone else carry that big stick for you.

I am so grateful that I can talk. You might say I’m not big on the new technology, as I have no blackberry, blueberry, blue tooth, white snake, iphone, heating pad, ipad or electric blanket. I have never texted, tweeted or yodeled and tend to use my cellphone as often as I see Haley’s comet. I’m very comfortable living this 1992 lifestyle. Some might say I’m missing the boat. I say, bon voyage, enjoy the cruise without me.

I like to communicate the old fashioned way, like the poineers and early settlers did, by telephone. I like saying something and hearing an immediate reaction from the sound of a human voice. That’s how I reach out and touch someone. So that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

But at this moment, what I’m really, really most grateful for that I don’t have to write anything else about gratitude, because if I think about this subject much longer my head is going to explode.

So in furtherance of today’s title, I thought we’d go with a few images from the white side. We start with a some aviary action from Antonelli’s Pond, where I shot this great egret along with some snowy egrets perched along a fallen branch in the water. We chatted and they told me they were in town for a conference on migration patterns of Californians to Hawaii. They wanted to come and check out my abode, but I had to egret to inform them that just wasn’t going to fly.

The next two images are from a recent high tide, big swell morning along West Cliff. I stopped at Bird Rock and shot these photos of waves celebrating the end of their journey across the Pacific by smashing against the cliffs. Is it just me, or does the texture on the first shot remind anyone of the inside of a Hostess cupcake? Alright, maybe a Twinkie.

We then to a couple of spider webs that I photographed during a recent rain. Now I realize they’re not quite white, but they do begin with ‘w’ so I thought that was close enough. Earlier in the day I had run into little Miss Muffet, who was lounging on her tuffet. She was eating her curds and told me to get out of the whey as she was expecting company. So as not to spite her, I just ran away.

Let’s go to the late night. “President Obama held a ceremony at the White House to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. In response, Republicans said, ‘It’s even worse than we thought. He’s a Jewish Muslim. President Obama has set aside over 180 million acres of land for polar bears. When Sarah Palin heard about it, she said, ‘Todd, get my gun.’” –Conan O’Brien “President Obama needed 12 stitches after taking an elbow to the mouth during a basketball game, but he learned a valuable lesson: Don’t get in the way of Hillary’s tomahawk jam.” –Craig Ferguson

“In a recent interview, Sarah Palin said we must stand with our North Korean allies. When she was corrected she said, ‘Listen, geometry was never my strong suit.’” –Jay Leno “In a recent interview, Sarah Palin said we have to stand with ‘our North Korean allies.’ When told that North Korea is not our ally, Palin said, ‘Sorry, I meant East Korean allies.’” –Conan O’Brien “Anderson Cooper did a show this week from inside that half-mile long drug smuggling tunnel between San Diego and Mexico. It’s quite an amazing tunnel. It has lighting, ventilation, a rail car, a Starbucks…” –Jimmy Kimmel

“A special thanks to our audience tonight. You must really hate your relatives to come down here on Thanksgiving Day. The original Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims lasted three days. That was before we learned we could eat three days worth of food in one day.” –Jay Leno “Monday was a big online shopping day called ‘Cyber Monday.’ Immediately followed by ‘Identity Theft Tuesday.’” –Conan O’Brien “A 19-year-old Somali man was arrested in Portland for allegedly planning to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. His parents are devastated. He had such a promising career as a pirate.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our first sampling for December. Coming up next week we’ll showcase the recent color and pagentry in the morning and evening skies. So may your week be as low-key and non-hyped like LeBron’s return to Cleveland. We’ll catch you down the far sideline. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

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