The Cactus Patch
Volume 13       April 2010      Number 04

Curiouser and Curiouser
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

I will start with an apology. Last month I accidently sent an uncorrected version of my letter rather than a corrected one. The first error was in the name Rob Plowes. This, of course, should have been Darryl Plowes. (Rob is his son.) The second error was in leaving out the names of Kalanchoe thyrsiflora and K. luciae in my note on the article on corrections in the Cactus and Succulent Journal. The editor must have been puzzled by my inclusion of a picture of these (which did not appear).

I thought Morgan Freeman should have won best actor in the Oscars for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in “Invictus”. (Of course, I was wrong on most Oscar choices.) I thought he had the accent and mannerisms perfect. But, of course, I may be prejudiced because we were next door in Botswana at the time. Our Gaborone Music Society, in fact, made a trip to South Africa to hear the New Zealander Kiri Takanawa who sang “The World United”. (Polly and I had heard her previously in New York.) The movie had very clever use of this and other songs including the South African national anthem sung by Sibongile Khumalo. (Of course, we didn’t have to travel to hear her. She came to us in Botswana.) I especially liked it when (after a tussle over anthems and flags) the team captain declared the popular song “Shosholoza” (which the spectators had burst out singing) representative of all South Africa.

The Fresno cactus meeting on 4th March featured Ernesto Sandoval from Davis who spoke on photography. Unfortunately, much of the presentation was on apertures and focal lengths which are relative more to film rather than the digital cameras most of us use now. I did, however, appreciate comments on focus, lighting and arrangement before going to the computer to “correct” pictures.

Polly’s sister Martha surprised us with a book set in Botswana: Predator by Frederick Ramsay (2009 Poisoned Pen Press, Scottsdale, Arizona). The author’s name caught my attention as we knew Jeff Ramsay as Press Secretary for the president of Botswana. Sure enough, Frederick is his father. There are many Ramsay novels set in America, but this is his first set in Africa. It is a good counter to the Lady Detective series as it has the blood and guts which many want in a mystery. It manages to retain the good character of Botswana, however, by making the villains visiting gangsters from Chicago!

The Sand Canyon trip on the 6th was reported on at the last meeting, but I would like to add a few comments of my own. I had no idea the “Mountain Spirit Center” was Buddhist. I had, wrongly, assumed it would center on Native Americans. At any rate, we were graciously received and served tea. The art works are marvelous. I was grateful for the course I took in oriental art at UCSB as it would be much less meaningful without an understanding of the religion and culture behind the art. Polly and I took the old road down from Tehachapi and found the wreck from the recent tunnel disaster beside the road just as a train came around the loop and through the tunnel.

Incidentally, my Great Aunt Faye’s house in Ceres is now painted bright pink and is a Buddhist center! This is quite interesting as the area is quite strongly Baptist.

Most of the family (including Daniel who is visiting from South Dakota) went to see the new “Alice” while we were up at Sand Canyon. Polly and I went on the 8th when it was much less crowded. I was pleased that my mother enjoyed it since it departs considerably from the books. (Mother collects anything to do with her name sake, especially since the original Alice, Alice Liddell, married Roger Hargreaves and, thus, was also Alice Hargreaves.) Like the cartoon of the 50s, this version mixes both “Wonderland” and “Looking Glass”. Unlike any other version it brings Alice back as an older person. She is constantly told she is “The wrong Alice” and, in fact, introduces herself as Alice Kingsley. This is interesting as Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll did, in fact, write for more than one Alice.

As Alice herself would say, it becomes “Curiouser and curiouser” as Alice Kingsley (in the film) turns down a marriage proposal and is last seen boarding a ship for China. This mirrors my Great Great Aunt Alice J. Whittier (who rejected Julia as her first name). She had quite an adventurous life. She and her brother went to the World’s Fair in Chicago and saw electric lights and ice cream cones introduced. After earning an RN she joined her roommate in San Francisco just in time for the 1906 earthquake and fire. Following that, Alice went to China and served as a nurse “somewhere near the border with Tibet”. Unfortunately this turned out to be the time of the Uprising of Righteous Fists (aka Boxer Rebellion). Alice returned to the States at the second such uprising.

On the 9th, of course, we heard Guillermo Rivera’s talk on NW Argentina. The pictures were beautiful and informative. And, of course, the meeting was kept to a briefer time.



Train Wreck

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