The Cactus Patch
Volume 13       October 2010      Number 10

Relaxing with Films & Books
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Since we only made one short trip out of town this month, I got a lot of reading done. I read mother’s new More Annotated Alice (Martin Gardner, 1990, Random House, New York) and found yet another curiosity:

Of more serious interest is the fact that Alice had a son named Caryl Liddell Hargreaves. Another coincidence? …It is hard to believe that when Alice called her third son Caryl she did not have her old mathematician friend in mind, but according to Anne Clark, in her marvelous book The Real Alice (Stein & Day, 1982), Alice always insisted that the name came from a novel. The novel’s identification is unknown.

My father’s name was Carey Hargreaves (no middle name). Carey is, of course, another form of Caryl, Carrol etc. There have, in fact, been three names passed down through the Hargreaves’ generations: Carey, George and James. My older brother is Robert Carey and I am Bruce James. (Our immediate family has only two males, but there is a cousin George.) My Uncle George was working in Brazil (where the Rio phone book has lots of Hargreaves- don’t ask me why) and someone asked him at the airport if he was a Hargreaves! They were looking for the heirs to a million pound fortune from the cotton mills. Our ancestor James Hargreaves had started the industrial revolution with his spinning jenny, but he is said to have died penniless. At any rate, someone in the family had money! The heirs that were sought were seven redheaded brothers with three of them named Charles, George and James. Yes, Uncle George shouted out, that’s us! We are descended from James Hargreaves who had six redheaded brothers, one named Carey (which equals Charles) and another named George. Unfortunately, after comparing family trees, it was found that we are cousins to the long sought heirs!

Another interesting book is G’Day to Die ( Maddy Hunter 2006, Pocket Books, New York). In it a paleobotanist (one who studies fossil plants) finds a living plant in Australia that matched ancient fossils. “I knew exactly how thrilled Conrad must be to have an extinct species reappear. I’d felt the same heart-pounding excitement when Clinique reintroduced a lipstick shade they’d discontinued years ago.” It takes all kinds!! In another place we find, “Did you know that the woman who died yesterday was a research botanist who worked for Global Botanicals?” He puffed out his bottom lip in a miserable attempt at surprise. “Guess she’ll miss the [Botany] conference. That’s too bad. It’s supposed to be a good one.”

It wasn’t all books. We’ve also seen a lot of films lately- at both cheap theaters! We were glad to see the theater reopen at East Hills Mall since the Mall is moribund. At the new low price we went to see The Sorcerers’ Apprentice. I was disappointed to note the absence of Mickey. Oh well, he wasn’t needed to pull on Stokowski’s coat tail since the music was also redone. It was a good movie, but nothing will replace Fantasia. (I always wanted to be another Disney. Another road not taken... The closest I came was in the eighth grade when we lived in Riverside and my best friend Stuart Goodwin had a stop action camera with which we actually made a cartoon short. We also dug a “boat ride” in the back pasture in imitation of Disneyland –but it was so leaky we couldn’t fill it with water.)

There were not many events this month. On 22th August Anne left for South Dakota once again. This time she was going on to Lake Michigan to see lighthouses. We got a postcard from the Apostles Islands. She will be back on the 20th of September. We also received a postcard from my redheaded sister Karen and husband Marvin. They went to Alaska again- this time on a cruise. They returned to Sacramento in time for the birth of their second granddaughter Heidi May Jarrel on the 15th of Sept. On 29th of August we had a birthday for Joshua. He says he’s going to work for a while to save up money before going on to college. On the 5th of September we had a birthday party for Robert’s granddaughter Cassie who is going straight on to college.

We were puzzled when Robert failed to show up, but the mystery was solved when we checked the answer machine at home. He was in the hospital with cracked ribs from a car crash. He’s recovering, but his jeep is totaled.

On the 8th we drove down to LAX to have dinner and then drive back to Bakersfield. Actually, we went to meet Isaac Lusunzi, a friend who had once been my student in Lesotho. He had been to Nova Scotia and had a five hour layover on his way back to Australia. We ate at the spiderlike restaurant in the center of the airport. Fortunately it has reopened, but it is a bit pricey. I also photographed Carissa edulis (Nyunyum or Natal Plum), an African shrub which has been planted at the airport. It had both flowers and fruit. (The fruit is edible as I learned while at UCSB.)

On the 12th of Sept. we watched Fiery Paradise on Animal Planet. This is a great program on Africa’s Rift Valley. One highlight was Mt Suswa in Kenya which has tree aloes, euphorbias and dracaenas as well as the world’s largest complex of lava tubes and the largest colony of giant mastiff bats. One draw back to these caves is the colony of olive baboons which have introduced fleas! We also loved the Lake Malawi cichlids which brought back memories of the annual field trip from the University to show them to students.

On the 2nd the Fresno CSS had their annual member’s plant sale. I purchased an American species of Dorstenia, Dorstenia contrajeva which has a thin stem and large leaves. On the 11th we went to see the garden of Hoolyse and Roger. An amazing collection of Agaves! On the 14th, of course we were at the BCSS at which the fair and the show & sale were discussed at length. A good thing the talk was short. I have never had the money to invest in equipment for the sort of professional work shown. When I started at the University of Malawi I invested in a macrolens, but it was stolen the first month and I had to revert to the cheaper rings as mentioned. Fortunately the Biology Department had an enormous cannon of a lens. Unfortunately it required a surveyor’s tripod to support it. The only time it was really useful was when I spent a day at Lengwe National Park counting Nyala. I was in a hide at a waterhole and got some great shots. (But not many of plants.)

Polly and Isaac

Digging Agave tequillense

Planning the Fair Exhibit

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