The Cactus Patch
Volume 13       December 2010      Number 12

If It Weren’t For Bad Luck, I’d Have No Luck At All!
(song from Hee Haw)

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Actually, the month was not all gloom and despair. I’ll list the few things that went right first. The evening of 16th October, Polly and I went out to Taft where they were celebrating the usual Oildorado in an unusual way (since this was the 100th anniversary of the town). They had luminaria on a giant scale by lighting up hot air balloons from the inside! We also toured the new monument to oil workers and were entertained by men in skirts (aka kilts). To fit in with conservative Taft they had bagpipes in red, white and blue.

On the 30th we went with Lora and Anne to see the Condors play the Alaska Aces. Polly and I had never been to a hockey game. We were not disappointed. Almost immediately there was a fight where the Condor teammate tore the shirt off an Ace. The Condors were trounced. There was a Halloween costume contest won by a figure from Avatar. They also gave credit to a miniature Dorothy and Lion. I thought Popeye and Olive should have gotten something.

On the 2nd of November I went with Anne to an Audubon Society meeting. Harry & Kathy Love gave us “A glimpse at Peru”, but very few of the pictures showed birds. On the 4th we went to Fresno and heard Tim Jackson on mesembs. The talk was good and the brag table had an excellent assortment of them.

On the 12th we took mother to a live production, “Maggie” at the Fox Theater which celebrated 80 years. For a locally written and produced show, it was surprisingly good. It was set in the late 1800s in Bakersfield and had a historic feel.

Anne’s talk on plants around the world at the BCSS meeting on the 9th was well done. (I have to say that, don’t I?) She was very brave to follow in my footsteps, but she did that all through school. (Actually, I was preceded by an older brother, Robert, and was even known as “bugsy’s brother, but a three year gap makes it easier.)

And now for the bad news:

There seems to be a national outbreak of bedbugs and Bakersfield has not escaped. We managed to pick up a few from visiting a house which had been infested by importing a couch from a thrift store. We fumigated and managed to eliminate them before we saw more than first and second instar bugs (infants). It would have been embarrassing to me as a parasitologist if they had gone further.

In Lesotho I was warned that a Range Management hut in which I planned to stay was infested. When I returned I was asked about them and said, “No problem!” (I had gathered bundles of Artemesia afra, a relative of sage brush, and put them between the mattress and the sheet. It was smelly, but I had no bites.)

A lesser problem was the microwave which quit. We took it back to Target since it was still under warranty and got a new one. The new one also quit. We then got a third one which is still working.

Then the washing machine stopped working. We got a new one, but then had to call a plumber to replace the attachments. As the plumber was leaving we noticed water streaming out of the lawn sprinkler system. We had to turn that off and wait a few days for the gardener.

We also blew a tire on the car and had to buy a new can opener. Mother then asked, “What else can go wrong?” I said, “Hush”, but, sure enough, that evening when we went to Centennial High to hear Angela sing in the choir, Lora had to be rescued from the gym down the road. They had a gas leak and everyone had to evacuate. Lora’s car keys were left inside in her purse!

Finally, on the 13th we went to Lea Lehman’s garden in the morning (no problem!) and then joined the Audubon Society for a bus trip to the Pixley Wildlife Preserve. Big problem! The bus never arrived. Eventually we all piled into cars and got there in time to see thousands of Sand Hill Cranes wheel in at sunset. (Next day Robert said, “If you want to see cranes just go to the dairies. That’s where they feed.”) Just ask a veterinarian.

At least I wasn’t in charge this time. When I invited the South African Indigenous Plant Use Forum to Botswana, the bus which the Department of Agriculture had promised for the field trip failed to show up. Similarly, we all had to pile into cars, not the best mode of travel for a field trip.

Luminaria Baloon

Anne & Artifacts

Sand Hill Cranes

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