Dahlias that never stood up straight or "The Dahlia Principle"

photos taken in Golden Gate Park

Years ago I wrote a blog post about how my dahlias never stood up straight. No matter what I did or what measures I took, when the dahlias would grow they'd always grow sideways with large green serpentine stems stretching out horizontally instead of vertically. It seemed like something so straightforward. You put the bulb in the ground. The flower grows straight up from the ground. The flower blooms and looks like all the other dahlias you've ever seen. Easy peasy, right? Not so in my case. It's like their "dahlia dna" got the wrong set of instructions. It wasn't the weight of the blossom that caused it because they'd start growing like that long before there were flowers. It was maddening. One year, those dahlias didn't come back. Something must have eaten their bulbs. I never bothered to replace them. I decided to just admit defeat and learn to appreciate dahlias in other gardens besides my own (the photos in this post were taken outside the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco).

This weird dahlia problem is somewhat of a symbol for certain things in my life. No matter how hard I may try to prevent some cyclical patterns from repeating themselves, I can't. I end up either having to adapt or just admit defeat and move on.

Case in point... after 13 years of living through restoration/remodeling projects in this house Hubby and I know that no matter how straightforward a project appears to be at the onset, something will crop up that puts it into the "difficult" or "Man, I didn't see that one coming" category. It is a general rule we've come to have a sense of humor about (believe me, it took a long time to get to the point where we could chuckle about this phenomenon). We've actually come to expect it--particularly when others besides ourselves are doing the work.

Sometimes we've called it "the Home Depot Curse". That term came about because whenever we’d get into a line to checkout at Home Depot with a cart full of supplies, the customer ahead of us would suddenly have an issue with their purchase—their card would decline, a bar code wouldn’t work on an item, or something else would occur that the cashier insisted “had never happened before”. If anything happened when we were standing in line, we felt an obligation to apologize to whomever was standing in line in front of us or behind us by saying, “Sorry. It’s us. We have ‘The Home Depot Curse’.” We got to the point where we'd split up and have one of us stand in one line and the other in another line and then whichever line "broke down", we'd switch to the other person's line. When my brother was helping us with major construction, we'd split into three different lines and really fake out "the curse".

At other times, we've simply said, "We've got the Midas touch in reverse. Instead of everything we touch turning to gold, everything we touch turns to crap." That started to sound too cynical and faithless for our spiritual and good-natured sensibilities, so over time we abandoned that notion and phrase.

I think I'll call it the "Dahlia Principle" from now on. It sounds much nicer than either of the first two nicknames, don't you think?

We've had the weirdest things imaginable happen during the course of our home improvement adventures. While digging trenches for french drains around the perimeter of the house several years ago (another seemingly straightforward undertaking), we unearthed counterfeited engraving plates buried by the former owner's felonious son who was involved in many nefarious activities including counterfeiting checks. A phone call later and we had a member of the sheriff's department collecting the evidence as we all stood next to the small trench. After taking the evidence and our statement, the sheriff's deputy parted with a smile and a chuckle and said, "Give us a call if you dig up anything else... like a dead body." Thanks officer.

That gives you an idea of how bizarre things can get around here.

So in case anyone is wondering why I haven't written an update on the progress of our latest remodeling project, know that the "Dahlia Principle" is in full swing right now. The wonderful and competent contracting company that we hired to do our drainage and foundation footing across the front of the garage has been sucked into the vortex that is our lot in life when it comes to home improvement. A seemingly straightforward day-and-a-half job has turned into much more than that. Everything is on hold until they can find a slot in their schedules to come back and resolve things.

Sorry... I guess I should have warned them.

The good news is that while digging to install the foundation, they didn't find anything that warranted calling the sheriff's department. That's a good thing, right?

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  1. Oh my God, I was laughing so hard while I read this that my sides hurt! I don't think you are the only ones that suffer the effects of the Dahlia Principal. We've never had a project go smooth unless we have qualified help or the qualified help is solely doing the job. In any event, I wish you luck with your current project. Happy digging! :)


  2. I like your new term much better. It has a rose coloured feel to it.

    Around here, we're always running into oddities and peculiarities with the way this house has been renovated. So much so, that, like you, we expect to discover them and we refer to them as Hueyism's - so named after the fellow who did the renovations on the house.

  3. Your writing is so fun to read! It's so well done I think it would be a disappointment if everything went according to plan.

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  5. I'm laughing, well because of two things, one, our guy who reno'd the condo, tried to electrocute himself while tiling...and second we definitely have the HD curse too.

    Pick a line, any line, it will be ours, and the longest.


    Oh, and the blog...well it's showing up only under muddybootdreams.blogspot.com which hasn't been there for a few years...it's lost, I'm lost, and it's all because of the Dahlia Principal...


  6. "How hard could it be?" OMSH... I am so sorry.
    Let us know when you've unearthed the body
    erm.. I mean get started again.
    Hugs and love...


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