The Cactus Patch
Volume 11       September 2008      Number 9

To The Atlantic Again
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

A very busy month! On the 3rd of July the Fresno CSS held a BBQ complete with deep fried turkey. I’d heard of them (and their dangers) but had never eaten one. It’s quite good. They also had a demonstration of Adenium pollination and a silent auction. I got a great book: Pachyforms II -- Bonsai Succulents (Phillippe de Visjoli and Rudy Lime, 2007, Advanced Visions, Vista, CA.) It has loads of great color pictures, including some baobabs. The caption on one of these says, “Baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) are among the most coveted of pachycaul trees for bonsai”. A few of the plants (Gasteria, Lithops etc.) don’t really belong, but it is otherwise an excellent book. The copy I got is signed by Rudy Lime, one of the authors. I’ll have to keep an eye out for vol. I. In general, bidding was rather low.

On the 4th of July we cleared out Polly’s sister Martha’s sister’s spare room and then went over to her other sister Nancy’s for dinner and pseudo-sparklers.

We had a second feast on the 8th at the BCSS demonstration of cactus cuisine.

My baby sister Lora and her kids arrived from Kwajalein on the 13th. On the 17th we went to Gilroy, passing pelicans at San Luis Reservoir on the way. The Gilroy Gardens were open this time, but were a bit disappointing. The emphasis is on grafted trees forming odd shapes, topiaries, and genetic freaks. There were a few sedums in bloom on the boat ride, but otherwise few succulents. The best part was the bird show -- lots of parrots, a turaco and (best of all) a South American Condor which swooped over us.

We then drove on to San Jose, checked into La Quinta next to the airport and tried to find parking downtown. There was a free music festival (too loud) and mobs of youngsters. We finally parked in a parking garage, ate at Peggy Sue’s and barely made it to the show of “All the Great Books” by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. The show, which pretended to be a class on classics, was hilarious. After spending a bit of time on the usual suspects, they ended with a stack that they had to reduce to one-liners to finish in time. These included “Alice in Wonderland -- don’t do drugs; On the Road -- do drugs”.

On the way back to the car we passed lines of youngsters (some in costume) waiting to see the latest batman movie. Next morning Polly and I split off from the group and drove up to Red Bluff via Corning which sells olives in all flavors. We then drove east past Lake Almanor to Greenville where Michael now lives with his parents. They’ve moved up from a mobile home to an actual house.

The 19th was Gold Digger Days in Greenville and Michael loved it -- candy, balloons and all. Smokey Bear was a hit as were all the fire trucks. I wondered how all of them could be spared from the fires. We then cooled off at an ice-cream social at the Methodist Church. This was followed by a gold hunt in a nearby stream. With his mother’s help Michael found a gold-painted rock which earned him a genuine gold dollar.

On the 20th we rested and on the 21st drove to nearby Taylorsville where we had a successful look for fossil shells in the hillside rocks. On the way back we stopped at Cherry’s Garden and I bought a Channel Island Dudleya.

On the 22nd we drove past Lake Almanor to the town of Westwood which had a huge statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe. Michael loved the big blue “cow”. It seems when the sawmills moved from Minnesota to California, Paul came with them. (Interestingly, there is evidence that Paul was French in origin, possibly from Acadia.) After lunch we circled back to Chester and haunted junk and book stores. James was late getting home that evening due to an accident in which a logging truck blocked the road.

On the 23rd we drove down the Feather River Canyon passing a load of lumber which had spilled on the road. At the Butte County Line I asked Polly to pull off for some “Dudleya’s” which turned out to be a succulent Buckwheat! Just after that we pulled off at a rest stop and watched a fire crew pick blackberries. We stayed in Fresno that night and returned to Bakersfield on the 24th. (We did not stop in Sacramento because my sister Karen and her husband Marvin are on a long holiday in Alaska. Our son John was studying Spanish in Guadalajara.)

Lora and kids were gone when we returned but Anne’s son Daniel had arrived from South Dakota. On the 26th Daniel showed his culinary skills with a breakfast to solicit funds for his neighborhood renewal project. It was well attended.

Returning to last year:

On the 6th of August everyone from Catriona’s wedding left Smith’s Cove. Polly and I got a ride across the middle of Nova Scotia with Andrena’s cousin Donna Ager and her husband Keith Maclellan, M.D. Donna sings in Seventeen Voyces which has a web site. (With her soprano, Polly’s alto and my tenor we had quite a musical “Happy Birthday” for Mariner’s birthday.) We stopped for lunch at Magnolia’s Grill in Lunenburg (a world heritage site). We were promised outstanding key lime pie, but it was rather ordinary. We continued along the Atlantic coast via Peggy’s Cove to Halifax, the capitol of Nava Scotia today.

We found a room at the Heritage Hostel near the train station. (We had tried to book across the street, but were told we would have to have a credit card. Fortunately the hostel, which was cheaper, took cash.) We tried to pay for train tickets, but they wouldn’t take a traveler’s check and it was a Canadian Bank Holiday. Fortunately they allowed us to keep our reservations another day when the banks were open. We then went for a walk and found outlines of a human and dove on the sidewalk. It turned out this was a reminder of the bombing of Hiroshima which was on 6th Aug. 1945.

Further along we came to John W. Doull, Bookseller. There were stacks of old books all over and I thought it would take a lifetime to find anything, but the owner asked what I was interested in and promised to show some the next day. That evening a group of young musicians entertained us at the hostel. Not all there music was local Acadian - they included the cajun classic “On the Bayou”.

Next day we went shopping, cashed travelers checks, paid for the train and returned to the bookstore. From the stack of jewels presented I chose “Missionary Labours in Southern Africa” by Robert Moffat (1842, John Snow, London) and “Exploratory Tour in South Africa” by Arbousset and Dumas 1852, John C. Bishop, London). The first describes the first mission to the Batswana (Kudumane aka Kuruman) and the translation of the Bible into Setswana. The second, originally in French, describes the first European exploration of what is now Lesotho.

That evening we visited the waterfront and took a whale watching tour. The boat took us out into the Atlantic, but we only saw a harbor seal and some jelly fish. We still have not seen wild whales. Returning to the harbor we bought some Queues de Castor(beaver tails or sweet fried bread).

Next day we began a long train trek away from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But more of that next month.

Donna, Keith and Polly

Hiroshima Memorial

Polly & Queue de castor

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