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Ponce de Leon finds a flower first . . .

One of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and works in Alexandria, Virginia recently posted a photo of a gorgeous highly complicated plant on her blog. This is the princess that in age and maturity falls somewhere between my first-born and my last-born daughters. Click here to go to her blog and enjoy a photographic journey that covers the state, the nation and various distant parts of the globe—be prepared to spent a lot of time there—it’s well worth the visit! Be sure to read her Stuff About Me page, located on the right of her home page. If you’ve never been to Alaska, Antarctica and deep into the four sections of the United States—dozens and dozens of locations in the north, south, east and west quadrants, with emphasis on the Four Corners of the Southwest—and Canada, Spain, Italy and other foreign countries, she’ll take you there with her photography and her writings. Be forewarned—it’s highly addictive!

She captioned the photo as follows (it’s pictured at the close of this posting):

Your guess is as good as mine!

It looks like a Gaura plant, but I’m just not sure, and the plant wasn’t labeled at Green Spring Gardens this morning. Any one venture to guess? Patty? The sprigs tend to lean downward, like a waterfall.

I commented on the posting and chastised her for failing to research the Internet in an effort to identify the plant. Having a bit of spare time on my hands—well, a lot of spare time—I spent a few minutes on research and the results of my effort are shown in the narrative analysis below. I was pleased with my findings, so pleased that I decided to bring my comment up from and out of the Stygian darkness of comments and into the bright light of a separate posting in order to share those findings with my viewers.

This is my comment, exactly as entered:

thekingoftexas (03:52:16) :

I am in shock! You don’t know? My guess is as good as yours? Evidently you made no effort to identify the flower by researching the internet. I found it in less than ten minutes!

This is the Flower of Paradice—no, not the paradise flower, that gorgeous bloom also called crane flower (Strelitzia reginae), an ornamental plant of the family Strelitziaceae.

Note that in the spelling of the Flower of Paradice, the ess in paradise is replaced with a cee. The flower was discovered by the Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon (1474 – July 1521) in his search for the fountain of youth. He believed it to be in what is now the state of Florida, but he ultimately turned his attention to Venezuela, spurred on by a notation he had found in a centuries-old document indicating that the fountain of youth was at the foot of what is now known as Angel Falls.

After an arduous journey fraught with perils and nearing the end of his life, he arrived at the falls but found that the pool at the foot of the falls failed to restore his youth. However, he did discover something there that would shake the scientific world, especially the world of flowers and that would ultimately have an effect on locations such as Las Vegas and Reno and Atlantic City—he discovered an unusual and theretofore unknown blossom that he almost immediately christened the Flower of Paradice—the Spanish name of the flower is “La flor que pasa siempre inmediatamente,” the flower that always passes immediately.

You see, Ponce de Leon was addicted to the game of dice—craps, if you will—and he noted that each bloom of the plant was graced with six beautiful petals and five golden yellow thingies protruding from the center of the bloom for a total of eleven elements and, much as did the great Pythagoras on his discovery of the 47th Problem of Euclid when he exclaimed Eureka!, a Grecian word meaning “I have found it,” Ponce de Leon shouted “Eleven!” He meant that he had found a flower with a total of eleven elements in its bloom, and to one addicted to the game of dice, the number eleven is magic—eleven along with seven are the two numbers in the game of craps that give the shooter an immediate win.

Sadly, Ponce de Leon never found the fountain of youth and he died at the age of 47. His many discoveries in his travels contributed greatly to our knowledge of the new world, and we are indebted to him for his discovery and naming of this beautiful flower.

A special note: Journey to any one of the world’s great gaming sites and head for the crap tables—there you will find that many of the high rollers wear a Flower of Paradice or a facimile of such—a ring or perhaps even a tattoo, just for luck.

PeeEss: I stated that on his discovery Ponce de Leon shouted, “Eleven!” but the actual word he shouted was once, the Spanish word for the number eleven, pronounced as on’ce with the accent on the first syllable. I used the English word to avoid the reader untutored in Spanish pronouncing it as the English word once, meaning one time only, a single occurrence, etc.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Paradise and parkin’ lots . . .

I spent an eternity living and working in the Washington, DC area (1983-1986).  I worked in downtown DC and lived in Arlington, Virginia with my wife and, at various times for varying periods, with two of my three daughters. The two younger girls were single—the third, married and living in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, visited during those three years, visits that were nice vacations for her. My sojourn to the DC. area lasted three years—it began as a vacation dream and descended into a nightmare (details to follow).

In 1986 my middle daughter and I discussed, prepared for, began and completed a six-day camping tour of the Northeastern states. Our experiences and our emotions on the tour ranged from enthusiastic anticipation to deep disappointment, from apathy to awe and from hilarious to harrowing—those emotions will be discussed in detail in future postings.

We garnered so many memories on that trip that some have inevitably been lost in the mists of time, or were perhaps were deliberately tossed aside, and we have minor differences in our recall of places and events. Owing to the similarity of our shared DNA, we each feel that our recollections are the most accurate—mine, of course, are far more realistic than hers. However, because I rarely win any argument with my daughters, I grudgingly accept their versions of past events. They sometimes present a united opposed front, and in spite of my kingly title I lose—big time!

Shortly after I began blogging in April 2009, I received an e-mail from the daughter that accompanied me on the 1986 excursion—no, change that to ‘. . . the daughter I accompanied on the 1986 excursion.

This is her e-mail, presented exactly as I received it:

Write about us discovering Walden Pond and being so disappointed that it had a public beach, a gazillion kids, a big snack bar, and entrance fees. We found a long line, then discovered a booth with a ranger, then a parking lot…we were shocked. We parked, crossed the street, then climbed up to stand on the stone wall, looked down at the people, then across the pond (I remember when I had to photograph it, I cropped it so there was about 1/2 inch of water, then trees, then 85% sky, just to get the kids out of the photo!)…then you looked over at me and asked, “Is this what you were expecting?”!!!

Then we went to that famous cemetery with “Author’s Ridge” where Louisa May Alcott and others are buried…and, of course, one of your favorites, Thoreau. Remember you were talking about him (his stone was surrounded by his family), then a sunbeam broke through the tree cover and illuminated JUST his stone? I actually have a shot of that!

There’s a song called, “They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot”….that would be PERFECT for our Walden Pond experience.

What I remember most is that I learned to read a map and you constantly asked, “Where do you want to go next?” I would read something in a guidebook or see it on the map and if I suggested it, you just replied, “okay, let’s do it…tell me how to get there!” That was SO much fun.

That, and you pay for everything and the trips are always upgraded (from roach hotel) when I go with you! 🙂

Before I begin my actual posting (please be patient), I must address her comment on my upgrading our trips. It’s true. I cannot resist it. It’s in my nature, and sometimes it’s a matter of self-defense.  Several of our trips involved driving in mountainous ares of the Southwest and we once met in Phoenix to begin our adventure. My daughter had already leased a rental vehicle for our travel, a three-cylinder matchbox that would have required us to use reverse gear and drive backward in order to traverse any significant upgrade. I upgraded her leased vehicle to a specially equipped Hummer. Well, not actually a Hummer, but I did upgrade it to a full grown auto with six-cylinders, more passenger space, more cargo space and far more power.

I have been accused of making my postings too lengthy—some viewers say it takes too long to read them. I suppose the whiners—oops, I mean viewers—are anxious to return to some activity they consider more entertaining and educational than my brilliant excursions into writing—activities such as situation comedies and computer games, for example. In deference to those viewers I will utilize this posting as a prelude to coming attractions (a teaser, so to speak). A six-day camping trip by people as incredibly complex as my daughter and I cannot be scrunched (capsuled) into one posting. Our trip could legitimately be considered for a book, a tome to be placed on the shelf along with some of James Michener’s works—books such as Hawaii, Texas, Space, Centennial, etc.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2010 in Books, education, Humor, Travel, Writing

 

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Arizona apples & cheeseburger briefs . . .

I have three daughters—one lives in Wylie, Texas, a city near Dallas. Another lives just a mile from me in San Antonio. The third daughter lives and works in Virginia, and to celebrate her thirtieth birthday in 1990 we met in Phoenix, Arizona to begin a six-day adventure touring and photographing in three of the states which comprise the legendary four corners—we toured Arizona, New Mexico and Utah but did not make it to Colorado—we saved that for a later birthday, one yet to be scheduled.

The next three paragraphs are in my daughter’s words, exactly as I received them in her e-mail suggesting that I post something on our Southwest adventure.

“Write about me buying a tourism book on things to see in the southwest, reading a caption that went to a different photo, then making you drive 20+ miles on a dirt road to go see what eventually was Hovenweep (but thinking it would look like Mesa Verde in Colorado because of how the caption was laid out)…and how I walked into the canyon and you videotaped my descent and mentioned that I wouldn’t return because something would get me and how city slicker I was; how I wasn’t equipped to be down there and you shouldn’t have let me go—then I heard all of this played back when you played back your video at the hotel!

“Other places we went on that trip: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (10/21/90, I think) in Coolidge, AZ (south of Phoenix)—4-story, 11-room mud structure. This is where I photographed the cactus blooms in the parking lot on our way back to the car—that photo placed in the nature category of the 2nd annual reader’s photos contest with American Photo. You can even mention that and send the winning photo to put in that posting!

“San Xavier del Bac Mission (The White Dove of the Desert) Tucson, AZ (was that in ’90?—I think that’s what my slides were identified with).”

I agree with her recollections of the trip except for her statement that we were “thinking it would look like Mesa Verde in Colorado because of how the caption was laid out.” Wrong—we (she) actually thought that Mesa Verde was in Arizona, not that it would look like Mesa Verde. However, she is right in saying that I videotaped her descent into the canyon, scolding her soundly as the descent was recorded. And I continued to mumble to myself long after she was out of sight and hearing, with the tape still recording my comments, stressing how stubborn she was and that she should mind her ol’ pappy—some of my mumbling included some rather salty language. Fortunately the only listeners (to my knowledge) were the ghosts of the long-gone ancient Anasazi people—and it’s a safe bet that none of them had video cameras. Above: Hovenweep ruins, © Cindy Dyer

We met in Phoenix on Tuesday, October 16, following our respective flights from Alexandria, Virginia and San Antonio, Texas. We went directly to a rental car office and selected a vehicle—when asked if she preferred any particular color, my daughter replied, “Anything but red.” To this day she refuses to accept any rental vehicle even lightly tinged with the color red (some sort of complex there, I suppose). Right: Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona © Cindy Dyer

Our transportation was blue and therefore acceptable to my daughter, but our adventure began on an ominous note. We located our car in the parking lot, and I placed the ditty-bag containing my toilet articles and my unmentionables on the ground while we loaded our baggage and photo equipment into the trunk and then neglected to load the bag. We left Phoenix and headed for scenic Sedona, located 116 miles north of Phoenix.

We were out of the city and well on our way before I remembered the bag. It was a freebie that came with my wife’s purchase of Lancome items and was marked with the maker’s name and logo. I had lugged it all over the globe for many years, including trips to US cities from Miami to Seattle and Boston to San Diego. The bag also accompanied me to foreign destinations, including Mexico, England, Germany, South Africa and Botswana. The name appeared prominently on both sides of the soft-side bag and could not be effectively obscured—I and my Lancome bag were subjected to numerous speculative side-glances, both by women and men—especially on my trips to San Francisco. Above: wall at San Xavier del Bac Mission, Tucson, AZ © Cindy Dyer

Their visual inspections seemed to focus alternately on the Lancome bag and me, perhaps to resolve some lingering doubt and either refute or  confirm their first impressions. I wanted to tell them that just as one can’t judge a book by its cover or a horse by its color, neither can one judge a traveler by the logo on carry-on luggage—or at least one shouldn’t. Right: Petrified Forest National Park, Petrified Forest, AZ © Cindy Dyer

Bummer.

There was really no good reason to go back for the bag. All the articles in it could be easily replaced, with one very important exception—the bag contained a pair of boxer briefs, cleverly and profusely decorated with colorful images of cheeseburgers—the briefs were a Father’s Day gift from one of my three daughters—on second thought, the three may shared the cost. My daughter remembers the item as being decorated with French fries, but they were cheeseburgers—I insist that my memory is correct and must hold sway, especially given that my relationship with the briefs (my contact, so to speak) was far more personal and up close than hers. In addition to being quite functional, the briefs had a lot of sentimental value for me, so we returned to the rental car parking lot—the bag was just as I left it, cheeseburger briefs and all, and we again headed out for Sedona.

Sedona, Arizona is located in Oak Creek Canyon and is a very popular tourist destination. It’s an artist’s haven, a shopper’s heaven, a photographer’s dream and a traffic nightmare. One can forget parking in the commercial area and only hope to find a wide place to park somewhere along roads leading into and out of the city. On a later trip to the four-corners area, while traveling on IH40 on our way back to Las Vegas from New Mexico, we decided to make a side trip south to Sedona. We toured the city and headed for Las Vegas without ever parking, or even shutting down the engine—our efforts to find a parking place were fruitless.

Speaking of fruit:

On this commemorative thirtieth birthday trip we lingered in the upper Oak Canyon to watch rock-climbers descending and ascending the canyon walls, and found an abandoned apple orchard—at least it appeared to be abandoned. The orchard showed years of neglect with heavy undergrowth, and an old house visible beyond a fallen gate was obviously unoccupied.

Evidently other travelers also considered the orchard abandoned—they were munching on apples garnered from the ground, and the area had been picked clean by the time we got there. However, that was no problem for a stepper, or rather for a climber. The temperature was uncomfortably cool, and although encumbered by the weight of the army field-jacket I was wearing, I climbed several of the trees, filled my pockets with apples and shook down some for others to enjoy (I’m always searching for ways to be of service to fellow sojourners).

The apples would have eventually fallen anyway—I just accelerated the process.

In the interests of brevity I’ll close this posting (not that it’s particularly brief) and get back later with more details of our memorable conquest of the Four Corners area (or at least three of the four states that comprise the four corners). There’s lots more to tell—tidbits such as our stays at several La Quinta motels on our trip. We were always treated to Continental breakfasts, and after our meals we appropriated several bananas to last us through the day. I can’t speak for my daughter, but I consumed so many bananas that I lost most of any affinity I may have had for that particular fruit.

Incidentally, I have to eat bananas sideways in order to keep from blushing (hey, that’s an old GI joke—lighten up!).


 
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Posted by on December 4, 2009 in Humor, PHOTOGRAPHY, Travel

 

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Tell me a story, win a freebie!

This is a reproduction of a comment I made on another blog, to a posting entitled “Tell me a story, win a freebie!” It’s a contest and can be viewed at cindydyer.wordpress.com. My comment is reproduced here in an effort to possibly draw more viewers and perhaps more story submissions to the contest. A lesser reason for posting it on my blog is to perhaps enlighten others in the use of “I’ and “me” in similar situations—assuming, of course, that there are others who may need and will embrace enlightenment.

Yes, I know what “assume” means when it’s hyphenated—if there is anyone on the planet who is not familiar with that, here’s the hyphenated word: Ass-u-me—the rest should be obvious.

This is the comment I posted on Cindy’s blog: (cindydyer.wordpress.com)

Your “Tell me a story, win a freebie!” posting is a great idea, and I believe you’ll get lots of takers on your offer—in fact, I intend to submit a story of my own, with the realistic expectation that I will be selected to receive a package of your note cards. That “realistic expectation” is based on our familial relationship, and it’s probably closely akin to nepotism, a situation which, similar to incest, is acceptable as long as it’s kept in the family.

Hey, that’s a joke—lighten up!

Today is about the same as any other day, give or take an hour or so—I was up and about at 2:44 AM, ready to “go out and meet the day,” and I would have but I didn’t because it was very dark and “I had no place to go and nothing to do when I got there” (that’s one of your Grandma Hester’s favorite sayings).

Now for the real reason I’m making this comment:

It’s prompted by my never-ending efforts to enlighten others in their use of the English language—alas, so many errors and so little time.

The phrase below is from your posting of “Tell me a story, win a freebie!” May I direct your attention to the words in bold?

BAD

I would love to hear from fellow gardeners who have the same modus operandi as me when it comes to squeezing in just one more plant . . .

BETTER

I would love to hear from fellow gardeners who have the same modus operandi as I when it comes to squeezing in just one more plant . . . (have is understood—if you retain the me it would be read by the literati as, “. . . the same modus operandi as me have . . .).

BEST

I would love to hear from fellow gardeners who have the same modus operandi as I have when it comes to squeezing in just one more plant . . .

The BETTER choice is actually the BESTEST because it places the onus (one should always double-check the spelling of that word) on the reader. Realizing that have is understood, the literati will accept the use of I alone, but the illiterati will laugh and sneer in the belief that the writer is deficient in hizerhur knowledge and use of English.

PeeEss:

That last sentence contains two words which I just coined, illiterati and
hizerher—both should be self-explanatory. I will soon apply for copyrights on those two words, but during the interim period before copyrights are granted, others may use them freely—no attribution is necessary.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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