The Cactus Patch
January 2014

Madiba 1918-2013
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

“The Oppressed and the Oppressor alike are robbed of their Humanity”
--Long Walk to Freedom

Even though we only traveled as far as Fresno, it has been an exhausting month. On the 14th of November our Silver Sneakers exercise group had lunch at Don Perico’s to undo all our exercise. (This was only the beginning of the annual over-eating.) On the 19th we returned from exercise to find someone had driven up our drive, across a garden patch and down Anne’s lawn back to the street. In doing so they had taken out our mailbox! Fortunately the poles were bent but not broken, so we were able to put the box back up. (Though it is a little wobbly.)

On the 28th we gathered with a lot of relatives at Lora’s house and had turkey. (We almost didn’t. Lora underestimated cooking time and her turkey wasn’t done. Anne came to the rescue with a cooked one she had in the freezer.) It was good to see the grandkids, but they are exhausting.

On the 2nd of December our Goldenaires choir performed the first of ten performances for the Christmas season. We ended with a jazzy number “Jesus, Oh what a Wonderful Child”. I was surprised at how well the choir did with a style they don’t usually sing.

On the 5th we found someone had broken into mother’s car and stolen the decorations Lora had put there for a Christmas float in the Parade that evening. What a surprise it must have been when they opened the carefully wrapped presents and found rocks inside! (Lora managed to patch things together for the Parade.)

Polly checked her e-mail before we left for Fresno and found that Nelson Mandela (familiarly known by his clan name “Madiba”) had died. This was not unexpected, but it does mark the end of an era. We never met him, but we learned a lot about him living in southern Africa. He deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, but at the time I thought it was a shame he had to share it with F.W. DeKlerk. I have since come to realize that it takes more than one leader to reconcile differences as deep as those in South Africa.

We did meet Desmond Tutu when he visited the National University of Lesotho while I was teaching there. (He had taught there in the past.) I admire his passive resistance, especially his Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but must admit that Mandela’s more aggressive approach was necessary. Frankly, I was surprised at how peaceful the transition to majority rule was. I expected a war even more violent than that of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. I’ll never forget watching TV with mother in Botswana as the new South African flag was raised.

Polly and I drove up to Fresno that evening for the FCSS Christmas potluck. There was plenty of food, but the silent auction was a bit sparse. I bid on two items and got a copy of Adromischus by Pilbeam, Rogerson and Tribble. I was interested because I had discovered Adromischus trigynus in Lesotho. Although I published my finding years ago, the distribution in the book stops right at the South African side of the border. I didn’t get the five copies of Feld & Flora because it went past my $5 bid and I thought $1 each was as much as they’re worth. Polly got a dancing Santa which had been used as table decorations.

Of course, we were at the BCSS potluck on the 10th and again had too much food. (Polly roasted a turkey which was done on time!) There were plenty of items to bid on and I ended up with too many. I especially like the monstrose Trichocereus pachanoi. Now all I have to do is find a large Jaguar pot to put it in. (The Chavin culture of Peru produced pots which combined this cactus with jaguars, but I don’t have any hope that I could get one for it.)

Our exercise group had a potluck on the 12th and Polly took the leftover turkey. We then sang our last concert with the Goldenaires on the18th and are preparing for Christmas itself.

Silver Sneakers at Don Perico's- Yolanda (leader) standing

Alice at Thanksgiving

FCSS Potluck supper

BCSS silent auction

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