The Cactus Patch
Volume 16       May 2013      Number 5

Books and Shows, etc.
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On Saturday, 16th March we went to a book signing at Russo’s Books because a classmate of mine at BHS, Steve Bass, has co-authored a history of the Basque in Kern County. It is more than I ever wanted to know, but was still interesting.

A week later John & I went down to Bucks, a landscaping place in Pumpkin Center, and while he was looking at rocks, I admired the blooming Cape Pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos). I don’t think the owner quite believed me when I said the flowers are eaten in South Africa (and even sold in tins at the super market) where they are called waterblommetjies. I also got a nice chunk of rock with fossil shells for free!

On Palm Sunday John & I were treated by Lora to ringside seats at the Condors game. We had an in-your-face view of a number of fights. The referees had quite a time of it when three fights broke out at once!

On Tuesday the 26th Polly & I saw Django Unchained. Although it was full of violence, I enjoyed it as a counter-culture film.

Easter we were treated to ham dinner at Lora’s. On April 4th I spoke on baobabs at the Fresno CSS. Dinner at the Thai House was sparsely attended. (I guess most people already had enough of meeting the speaker.) John helped with the mechanics of laptop cum projector, I gave the main speech and Polly took us on a tour of Planet Baobab. (This was given in Bakersfield a while back.) For those who want to read the Fresno newsletter (which includes a brief life-story on Polly and myself) the web site is

On the 9th, of course, we were at the BCSS meeting. The brag table was the best ever and the demo on putting holes in pots was great. (I sometimes use a nail and hammer for the same effect.) Alice, of course, was surprised by her cake and the questionable plants kept Maynard busy. (I might have had a few comments as well.)

On the 11th we saw Oz the Great & Powerful, a great movie. It was fantastic how a whole new story could be interwoven into the well-established books and film. Incidentally, when I was growing up in Stockton, I had access to all the Oz books which were in the front bedroom at my grandfather’s house.

On the 12th Polly & I joined our Silver Sneakers group for a brief walk in EB to earn a free Subway sandwich and on the 13th our Goldenaires choir sang for a chicken sandwich at a senior fair on Calif. Ave.

That evening we heard Merle Haggard at the Fox – another sellout show. He looks much better than he did a year ago. His stamina was astounding for someone his age. He got a good response when he said “Hello, Bakersfield”, but the crowd really roared when he added, “Hail, hail, Oildale”. It was a bit of a rowdy crowd.

Last month I wrote about books by Munz, so I think it is only fair to mention a couple of others. A good non-technical book is Roadside Plants of Southern California, by Thomas Belzer 1984, Mountain Press Pub. Co., Missoula. It is organized into five groups: 1. Ferns & conifers, 2. Broadleaf trees & shrubs, 3. Vines, climbers & Parasites, 4. Cacti, sages & Succulents and 5. Wildflowers. Each plant has a good color photo.

A much more technical book is reviewed in Fremontia ( Journal of the Calif. Native Plant Society) Jan & May 2012. This is the 2nd edition of The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California by Baldwin et al. The first edition was published in 1993. The new edition is sometimes much too technical to be practical. For example, the common daisy referred to as California Goldfields is split into two species based on genetic studies. These are distinguishable by differences in the pappus (bristle-like sepals), but these are not always present!

The original book, A Manual of the Flowering Plants of California, was actually written by Willis Linn Jepsen and published in 1925. The more recent manuals were done by committees. Enough said?

Baobab Artifacts

At Thai House

Fresno Brag Table

Making a hole

Problem Plants

Birthday Cake

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