The Cactus Patch
March 2018

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 20th of January we joined the Women’s March here in Bakersfield.  It was an amazing turnout, partly I suspect because there was not an organized one in Bakersfield last year.  I was quite pleased to see how many different causes related to Women’s Rights were represented.  I may not agree with all the causes, but I certainly agree with their right to espouse them!

On the 28th of January we decided to take a trip with John in honor of the degree he just earned from Cal State Bakersfield.  Our first stop was Lakeview Gusher near Taft.  Polly had never been there. Although the lake of oil is long gone, there is a monument with pictures.  We then drove over to the coast and stopped at Guadeloupe for lunch at King Falafel, an interesting mix of cultures.

We then drove up through the monarch butterflies (which were swarming) at Pismo Beach.  It’s a good thing we had already seen them as it would have been difficult to park!  Our next stop was Dinosaur Caves Park.  We had never been there, but had found it on the internet and were curious.  It started as a one-man project to build a large dinosaur outside a sea cave.  The neighbors complained and he never finished it.  His museum of curiosities did not work out and the area was abandoned.  The city of Pismo Beach took over and made a park which has dinosaurs, dolphins dinosaur eggs etc. which kids can play on. The cave collapsed long ago and there is really nothing to see.

We continued north into Shell Beach and had drinks and snacks at the Spyglass Inn.  We then climbed down to the rocky shore at The Cliffs and looked at tide pools with crabs, starfish, sea anemones etc.  The tide was out so the viewing was good.  Our trip back was uneventful.

On the 31st we watched the large bloody red blue moon.  It was red because it was eclipsed and it was a “blue moon” because it was the second full moon of the month.  It was large because it was closer to the Earth than usual.

On 1st February we did not go to the Fresno CSS.  We did go to the SW branch library book sale even though Polly argued the first day was probably members only.  Darn it, she was right!  I went ahead and joined for $5 since we were already there.  Polly waited in the library.  I was disappointed, especially since they had advertised African American books as a special section.  I had only found a small selection and was about to give up when I checked the African American section one last time.  At that point I noticed “To Africa with Spatula” an intriguing title.  Then when I looked at it I found it was subtitled “A Peace Corps Mom in Malawi 1965 to 1967”.  Since we were there from 1965 to 1968 it had to be someone we knew!  Sure enough, the author was Jane Baker Lotter, the wife of the director we served under there.  Polly agreed it was worth the extra $5.  Unfortunately we found that Jane had died two years ago.  Since the Lotters were in Davis we could easily have visited them when we saw John in Sacramento!

On the 9th of Feb we watched “A United Kingdom”, the story of the marriage of Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama.  The relatives on both sides objected, not just because it was a mixed marriage, but also because it involved delicate politics since Seretse was heir to the throne of the Bangwato, a leading tribe in Botswana.  Under influence from racist South Africa, Seretse was banished from his own country by the British. 

Eventually Seretse was elected to be the first President of a newly independent Botswana and Ruth served as the first First Lady!

Polly and I had been privileged to meet the Khamas in Botswana and our video of the first forty years of independence was shown before the film.  This was based on the Power Point slide show which we had shown to the BCSS, but John had converted it to video and added sound.  It was great to see it on the large screen at the Fox.

We were also present for Gary Duke’s talk on Dudleyas and Tylocodons.  He explained the connection since one is American and the other African – they both are in the Crassulaceae and are from winter rainfall areas.  It was a well illustrated talk.

My Aloe elegans from Ethiopia bloomed again this year, but the flowers were orange rather than yellow. I suspect this is because they had more sunlight as I had trimmed the overhead tree.  I have found in the past that other Aloes are paler when shaded.

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