The Cactus Patch
February 2016

A White Christmas? Bah, Humbug!
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

We went back and forth a lot as to where the family should gather for Christmas.  One of the first ideas was to go to Yosemite, but I objected to freezing in the mountains.  We never got a consensus, so there were family gatherings in various places.  In Bakersfield we began with a cookie exchange at Lora’s on the 18th of December.  Anne had a white elephant exchange on the 20th.  On the 21st, Polly, John and I set off for the mountain town of Susanville!  Yes, over my objection, we spent Christmas freezing in the mountains!

We spent the night at Polly’s sister Nancy’s in Fresno and on the 22nd had lunch at “A Touch of Britain” in the Sacramento area.  We filled up on the way with gas at $2.19 and after lunch noted the price at that same station had gone back up!  The road over Donner Pass was clear and we reached Susanville by 6:09.  The next day it snowed! We got to watch poor Esther the chicken sit outside her coop while snow built up on her shoulders.  Why she didn’t go inside remains a mystery.  Maybe it’s a bird thing.  There were lots of birds in the trees, including a Northern Flicker.

Inside we had a wood stove burning and remained warm.  A good thing, too, as seven month old Alice is now crawling around. She’ll be walking soon.  Unfortunately the snow kept the boys indoors so it was noisy even though they spent most of the time on computer games.

On Christmas Eve we got dressed up and went to a church service.  I was disappointed to note the trend seems to be toward videoed music.  It takes the local talent out of productions.

Next morning we had a pajama party with presents (Emily had made us matching outfits) and that evening we had dinner at the casino.  We had a specialty which was pork “wings”.  I guess pigs can fly! At any rate, they were quite tasty.  After dinner we went to the fairgrounds where they had animated figures in lights. On the 26th we rested except for a brief foray down to where I had photographed wild flowers so I could complete the series with a few snow shots.

On the 27th we had a farewell dinner at the Happy Garden which continues its reputation for great Chinese cuisine.  There was light snow on the 28th but we set off on our return journey.  The road to the Nevada border was not well cleared and at one point we slid a little on some ice.  Just after that we passed a van going the other way which was upside down.  It must have just happened as there was a fellow talking through the window to someone inside while another was on his cell phone (presumably calling 911).  At any rate we had a clear road shortly after that and had brunch at Mel’s Diner in Boom Town.  The sky cleared after Truckee and we had a safe, but long trip home.

We played games and welcomed the New Year at Anne’s. On the 7th of January we heard Petra Crist tell the Fresno Club all about how she set up her succulent business.  She convinced me I made the right decision in not going into the business.  It’s enough work as a hobby.

On the 12th, of course, we heard all about discovering a new cholla.  We had heard Michelle Cloud-Hughs’ talk earlier at the National Convention, but it was well worth hearing again.

A White Christmas

Alice and James


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