The Cactus Patch
Volume 17       July 2014      Number 7

Eras Ending
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

"Be a rainbow to someone’s cloud"
Maya Angelou

The Goldenaires sang five concerts in May. We started with excerpts from the Beach Boys so the choir dressed informally with women in leis (artificial) and the men with kukui nuts. [Despite the common misconception, the kukui nut (also called the candle nut) is not originally from Hawaii! It is a Malaysian tree in the Euphorbia family and is rich in edible oil. I first saw it in Malawi.]

On the 29th of May we watched Angela graduate at Centennial High. After the ceremony we smothered her in orchid leis (real) in honor of her island origin. (She is from the Marshall Islands.) Angela is the last of her generation to graduate from high school. On the 31st there was a party for Angela and two of her friends. As part of the entertainment they pitted the three young seniors (graduates) against three elderly seniors. We had to answer questions on subjects a high school graduate should know. They twisted my arm to be on the elder team and, of course, we won.

We were sorry to learn of the death of Maya Angelou, although she had lived a long and fruitful life. We never met her, but I did get a master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina. I can’t imagine what she endured, but I was warned by my graduate advisor to take it easy because “This is the liberal South.” I replied, “Yes, that’s what worries me.”

Of course we voted on the 3rd. My brother cited his experiences in Mississippi in the 60’s in a letter in the Californian to stress why we needed to vote, but the turnout was poor. I must admit I left a lot of places blank rather than vote for single candidate slots.

On the 5th we drove up to Fresno and heard Duke Benadom speak on Aloes of Southern Africa. He had good pictures with lots of labels. I liked the way the labels appeared after the picture so we had a chance to see them without first. His book Superb Succulents was on sale. Next day we went to the set up for the Fresno show and sale. We did not stay for the event the next day as Polly had sprained her knee and was not hobbling well.

On the 10th, of course, we heard the talk on succulents in Bakersfield. I sympathized with Richard when he could not get his pictures projected by the computer. I had the same thing happen in Botswana when I spoke to the bird club in Francistown. There was a funeral, however, so the attendance was low enough to huddle around the PC.

The further outbreaks of multiple killings are horrific. I especially did not like events at Isla Vista where I lived more than 50 years ago when I was a student at UCSB. Students are under pressure and even when I was there they were a bit wild, but nothing like what is happening today.

I will comment on two articles in last month’s newsletter. First there is Echinopsis spachiana. I have grown this in Bakersfield for over fifty years and was surprised to meet it in Botswana. It made headlines in the newspapers there when it was harvested as “Hoodia” for an American company which wanted a weight reducer. I pointed out that users would be surprised if they got a hallucinogen instead!

The other article was on Cordyline australis. I saw this in Cornwall and thought it was a type of Dracena. I was embarrassed when our host, a fellow biologist, corrected me. I have probably been confusing the two trees for a long time. One tree I would not confuse it with is the African “cabbage tree” which, although both have the same common name, is totally unrelated. Incidentally, the African trees look much more like a cabbage.

Errata: I wrote January and February in last month’s newsletter instead of April and May. No excuse! (The extra two lines were not my error, however.)


Duke Benadom

Fresno Show

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