The Cactus Patch
Volume 17       August 2014      Number 8

Fifty Years!
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

It’s hard to believe, but Polly and I have been married for fifty years!  The celebration actually began a day early on 18 June when eleven yellow roses arrived.

Polly e-mailed her sister Cathy who had sent them and by Friday we had an additional dozen roses, the intended number. 

On the day we went to Denny’s for an early breakfast to celebrate Lora’s husband Dave’s birthday since Denny’s offers a free birthday meal. Polly and I then went to our Silver Sneakers exercise group where they sang to us.  We then went to Chuy’s and had a pitcher of margaritas with lunch.  We watched a preliminary world football cup game between Japan and Greece.  It was a boring game with no one scoring. We then had supper at the Elephant Bar.  I ordered an “Island” Tilapia just out of curiosity as to what that means.  It was very ordinary with a tiny touch of mango in the garnish.  I think it was meant to portray an image of tropical isles, but since Tilapia is a fresh water fish found in inland lakes and streams, this doesn’t quite work.  I suppose you could count Mumbo Island in Lake Malawi which is tropical and freshwater and has Tilapia.  (There was even a fishing camp when we visited it, although it is now part of Lake Malawi National Park.)  To make it appropriate for the Elephant Bar, it should be noted that an alternate name for the island is Elephant Island since an elephant was found there, having, apparently, swum the five miles from the mainland!

Next morning we opened the newspaper and found a picture from our wedding!  It was said to be from our kids and grandkids, but we have learned that it was placed by our daughter-in-law Emily. There was also a note from Polly in Herb Benham’s column. 

He had mentioned missing some of the World Cup due to a visit to the dentist.  Polly was also at the dentist, but, fortunately, ours has TV screens on the wall and ceiling.

Nothing happened on Saturday except a couple of World Cup games, but on Sunday the whole family and friends went to the Stake and Grape.  We received cards and a “Golden Ticket” with a string of tiny lights attached to a battery as well as too much chocolate.  (More on the golden ticket later.)  After lunch we had an anniversary cake.

We watched a lot more of the World Cup games, but nothing else of interest happened in June.  On the 3rd of July we went to Fresno for the annual Pot Luck supper.  It was hot, but not so bad as to cause cancellation as happened last year.  In addition to feasting, they had the usual Adenium orgy and silent auction.

I mentioned that I had just read Fall of Giants (an account of World War I) by Ken Follett and Polly’s sister went on line and ordered .the second book in the trilogy, Winter of the World, which covers the second WW. It arrived one week later.  The third volume will not be published until December, but I don’t really need to read it.  I lived it! For anyone wanting to read these books be warned.  I am a fast reader and each one took me a week to read!  We returned to Bakersfield for the Fourth, but avoided fireworks.  (It’s amazing how double glazing cuts the sound!)

The 6th of July was the 50th anniversary of Malawi’s independence. (We arrived a year after independence when we served in the Peace Corps). I wish we could have been there for the celebration.  We were there when Malawi turned 25.  It was neat because we had just reached 25 in our wedding anniversary and there were 25 banners all over.On the 8th Polly and I had lunch at Rusty’s to watch the match between Brazil and Germany. We missed the first half and I stupidly said, ”Nothing ever happens in the first half”.

Of course Germany had to prove me wrong by scoring an incredible five goals!  Of course we got to watch them score another two in the second half (as well as Brazil’s single goal), but it wasn’t quite the same.  The rest of the World Cup matches were not quite as good.  We had lunch with the family at Chuy’s for the final match, but it was boring.

Incidentally, my brother Robert gave me a book on 50 Plantas Medicinales de Honduras which he bought in Honduras.  Unfortunately it has few succulents (Aloe vera, two Dorstenias and a Bursera).  I hope everyone saw his letter in the Californian.  In Central America he saw villages without men because there was no employment there.  It reminded me of Lesotho where all the men went to South Africa to work in the mines.

On the 8th, of course, we joined the BCSS for dinner at the Cactus Bar and Grill.  It was good to see the quality of the food is still great even with the new management.

At the May meeting I borrowed a copy of Bradleya  21 (Journal of the British Cactus and Succulent Society) just to see if they had anything interesting.  It had an article on Kalanchoe paniculata and I found an article of mine cited for its occurrence in Botswana.

The news recently mentioned the confiscation of Giant African snails which had been shipped to California.  We were told they carry disease, but not which one.  The truth is they do not carry disease in Africa.  It was only when the Japanese introduced them into the South Pacific that they became host to a parasitic worm which normally infests rats, but can transfer to man.  Incidentally, they are delicious, but make sure they have a cleansing diet if they are wild caught.  I once found them eating poisonous succulent spurges!

I wonder what most Americans think of Africa!  On 16 July we watched “The elephant who found a mom” on TV.  It told of an orphan baby elephant raised by a British settler woman. The elephant died and the program bemoaned how we are losing this endangered species.  An hour later we saw “Sex in the Wild” which showed us the sex life of elephants in Botswana where they are overpopulated. (It was amazingly graphic and really contrasted with Disney’s movie “The Vanishing Prairie” in the fifties which was considered scandalous because it showed the birth of a bison!)  The show then went to South Africa where they are sterilizing male elephants to control the population!

Then on the 19th we saw the movie “Blended” where two American families go to “Africa”.  The so-called Africa is actually the resort at Sun City, South Africa (unidentified) and compares to the rest of the continent as much as Las Vegas represents North America.  The movie is very American, even having an African refer to a “gas station” when the term used is actually “petrol station”.  The lead singer/dancer who keeps popping up is actually Terry Crews, an American football star!  Despite all this, we actually enjoyed the movie.



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