August 2008

Berkeley Succulents31 Aug 2008 08:34 am

Stannage Ave.
Aloe spinosissima

These mounding aloes will be covered in orange bloom spikes in a few months. They seem to do pretty well right alongside a high traffice area, holding up well to 8 year-olds on bicycles falling into them.

Quotes30 Aug 2008 06:09 pm

“[Sarah Palin is] going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long,” said Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers.

Misc&Recipes30 Aug 2008 02:20 pm

I never learned the salsa. A friend from Colombia tried to teach me and a few other architecture students when we were on semester abroad in Switzerland, but it was a hopeless endeavor. Instead we played volleyball on the slopes overlooking Lago Lugano.

Meanwhile, here’s a cactus salsa recipe.

* 1 bn Cilantro; leaves only, roughly sliced
* 4 Scallions; thinly sliced
* 1 Serrano chiles; stemmed, seeded,
* 1 ts Coarse salt
* 1 c Prepared cactus paddles; rinsed, sliced fine
* 1 c Fresh corn kernels;
* 2 tb Red wine vinegar
* 1/2 ts Freshly-ground black pepper
* 1/4 c Olive oil
* 6 Tomatillos; husked, washed,

* Step #1 Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat….

Oy that seems complicated. You’ll have to click through to find out the rest of it.

Misc30 Aug 2008 11:10 am

Our staghorn (Platycerium bifurcatum) at home has an infestation of giant mealy bugs. They’re practically inchworm size. It’s been growing nicely and is huge and full, but I had to take it out onto the porch to spray. I don’t think I will share any photos of the infestation, because it would scare you too much. I know you, you’re squeemish that way.

Horoscope30 Aug 2008 08:30 am

Today we visit the horoscope of plants born on March 23, 2002.

Since they don’t fit any of the regular plant horoscope signs, we must assign them a new sign for that day: Piggallia Minor.

Cactus born on that day are likely to be picky eaters, selfish lovers, momma’s boys, and Nader-voters.

Pigallian Minors: This week is the most important week of your life. You must get bees to your pollen by Wednesday, or your chances for romance will collapse into a black hole of despair and desperation; you will die a horrible aphid-infested death. On the other hand, if you succeed, and are favored by the bees, you will be honored for a thousand years among your progeny. Your seed will be collected by Monsanto and turned into an aphid-resistant strain that contains a vicious insecticide in your genes. You will not only be the parent of billions of plants for a thousand years to come, but you will also be responsible for the extinction of thousands of species. You go girl!

News29 Aug 2008 01:41 pm

The 25th annual succulent plants symposium, “A New Century of Succulent Plants,” will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road.

The forum will look at the first 100 years of the venue’s Desert Garden and its diverse plant collection. There will also be a discussion of new developments in the world of succulents.

I love that! New developments! Maybe there are new biogenic technologies to help succulents hold onto their water a little longer. That’s what I hope they’re talking about.

Whippets29 Aug 2008 12:49 pm

Berkeley Succulents29 Aug 2008 11:11 am

Stannage Ave.
Some lovely potted succulents on the stoop, including a well-growing (i.e. ready to be repotted) Euphorbia mammillaris.

Quotes29 Aug 2008 09:31 am

I first started gardening and learning about plants when I lived in Alaska. The summers are short but the sunlight is strong. After Breakup (i.e. spring, when the ice breaks and winter disappears in a sudden rush of water, to be replaced within weeks by summer) people would rush out to the garden centers and plant their flowers and vegetables.

I lived in Anchorage, home to more than half the state. Nearby, about 45 minutes away, is the town of Wasilla. I’ve driven through Wasilla many times, stopping at the strip mall on the highway for lunch while on the way to somewhere else. Well, the town isn’t quite just that, but you get the idea. It’s small.

And now the former mayor of Wasilla is the vice-presidential candidate for the Republican Party.

I understand that this is to try to get some of the Hillary voters to vote for McCain. But I’m really mystified. I can’t imagine a less qualified person to be a heartbeat away from POTUS.

She’s been Governor of the smallest state in the union for less than 2 years, and won that election largely because of Frank Murkowski’s scandals. And now she’s in the middle of a scandal herself, having admitted to using her position to get back at her brother-in-law.

The McCain campaign claims one of her qualifications is her support for drilling in ANWR, but all Alaska politicians, including Dem Senate candidate Mark Begich, support drilling in ANWR.

Honestly, I can’t imagine. What was he thinking?

Pat Buchanan

Biggest political gamble I believe just about in American political history…that is not hyberbole. I can think of no choice of VP that approaches this.

News29 Aug 2008 06:46 am

Friday is the day we plan our weekends, and so we most certainly need some entertainment news right now. And what better way to entertain us than with featuring entertainment news with the word “cactus” in the title. For instance,

Theatre Knoxville’s performance of the late Abe Burrows’ comedy “Cactus Flower” will leave theater fans hungering for its next production.

And then there’s this short news piece on a band that opens for another band called Cactus:

The Lizards new live DVD (includes) “The gig at B.B. King’s was us opening for Cactus, the band I play harp in,” explains band leader and bassist Randy Pratt.

With a name like Lizards you know it has to be fab. I wonder if the band called Cactus has a CD coming out too? Finally, we have some lovely and disquieting chamber music on tap.

12 seasons ago, Cactus Pear Music Festival was founded in 1996… as she sipped a signature Zuni Grill cactus pear margarita. ¡Caramba!, she exclaimed.

That has been today’s edition of Entertainment News. Stay tuned next week when we bring you entertainment news with the word “toothpaste” in the title. The Toothpaste Industry News is aquiver.

Quotes&Recipes&Stories28 Aug 2008 07:03 pm

A little extra watering wouldn’t hurt now that we’re coming into the hottest and driest part of the Northern California year.

Drink lot’s of water yourself, close the blinds and open the windows rather than turning on air conditioners, and an afternoon nap sounds good too. I’m tired, but Obama is coming on in a few minutes and the C-Span feed doesn’t have any of those ridiculous talking heads that are on all the other channels. I saw David Brooks immediately following Al Gore’s speech and nearly gouged my eyes out. Oh the pain is strong in that one. That should be my quote of the day.

I tried a new drink this evening. I don’t know the name, but it was Gin, Lillet and Bitters, shaken not stirred. Very delicious. It must be the heat.

Tomorrow we get a new Zebra label printer to replace the new one that is deeply broken, but Zebra wanted me to ship them the brand new broken printer for them to repair and send back in a month or two instead. Hah! I demanded my money back so instead they are overnighting another new one to arrive tomorrow. If it doesn’t arrive tomorrow, I think I will be done with them.

And don’t get me started on our new POS system.

Misc28 Aug 2008 12:35 pm

Succulent makes very pretty little mixes in very modern pots for delivery in LA.


Via Apartment Therapy

Misc28 Aug 2008 11:14 am

First you need to get yourself a cactus shower-brush. The Body Shop has one, I see…

Cactus Body Brush

Best if you want to: Massage and exfoliate your skin, remove dead skin cells… with soft cactus bristles.

How it works:

* Bristles made from cactus are soft and provide gentle exfoliation.
* Particularly good on dry skin that needs to be exfoliated regularly.

Well that’s a mystery to me. They claim they have “soft cactus bristles.” I can’t imagine. I guess that’s why I don’t run a spa.

Misc28 Aug 2008 07:01 am

They are not the same thing at all, so it turns out. Actually to be clear, there’s no such thing as a potato cactus or a cactus potato in the botanical world. But on the other hand…

Potato Cactus are used in:

* Herblore to make magic potions
* Summoning to create spirit kalphite pouches

That’s a reference to Runescape, in case you wondering. What is Runescape? I’m guessing a D+D game.

Cactus Potato – Apparently you can be the first to review the Cactus Potato restaurant in Lomita, CA if you click through the link. Anyone know anything about them?

National Parks27 Aug 2008 12:03 pm

Now it seems like Saguaro National Park is going to tag cacti to discourage theft. A timely opinion column in the Tucson Citizen tells the story.

These are tough times for the saguaro cactus. The Goliaths of the desert have been besieged in recent years by non-native plants. Invaders such as buffelgrass choke off young saguaros and increase the likelihood of a habitat-scorching wildfire.

Man, of course, also has proven to be a nemesis. Thieves, while rare, have made off with young cactuses, sometimes taking a dozen at a time.

Thankfully, technology offers a way to fight back.

Saguaro National Park plans to tag young cactuses with tiny microchips to help in investigations of missing cactuses and to make robbers think twice before striking.

Saguaros are a living symbol of the Southwest and lure visitors from around the world to our city. Keeping the cactuses alive and well should be a top priority, and we’re glad to see that Saguaro National Park has found a high-tech way to stick it to thieves.

I hope they don’t mind that I quoted it in full. It’s short, and relevant.

Questions27 Aug 2008 09:59 am

Subject: Help

Picture 1 is of my Silver Torch, looks dry? It has not grown well the past 2 years?

Picture 3 is not sure of the type but, it is one of my favorites and it got too much water in a recent storm. The base of one of them is now a hole and very soft. Is it the end? can I save it at all?

Thanks so Much,


I recommend pulling it out of the pot, spraying the whole plant with either household 3% Hydrogen-peroxide or a 1% solution of Neem Oil. Let dry a few days, spray again and if need be cut out rotting parts. Save top parts to re-root, though Cleistocactus are hard to get to root but you might get them to grow roots if you keep it warm and dry. Make sure to re-pot in fast draining, gravely soil with very little organic material.

The 2nd plant is Opuntia pyrrhantha. Same care issues – spray, let dry out, and if needed cut and reroot.

Good luck,

News27 Aug 2008 07:54 am

At the Chicago Tribune they’ll try anything to cure their dandruff.

“I spent five years going into the mountains talking to old people about the remedies and native plants,” she said… The old ways were kept alive by the descendants of Curacao’s African slaves…. They brought their knowledge of herbal remedies with them but had to adapt to new plants they hadn’t seen before….

The seeds of the tromustok tree are used as a laxative… The calabash tree… is used for asthma and coughs… A concoction made from a cactus is good for backaches, she said, as well as for dandruff shampoo.

Dandruff remedies are all the rage these days, and now it turns out I’ve been growing my own dandruff remedies right here at home all this time and I never knew it. I could be a millionaire!

News26 Aug 2008 05:39 pm

Did I mention alcohol today? Well, here’s some more cactus-related alcohol in the news.

`I wanted to create something that represented those flavors I grew up with,” Merino said of Macondo’s cocktail menu. The restaurant, which draws its name from the fictional town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” showcases nine of Merino’s concoctions.

It’s a literary bartender!

`My Most Original Drink’

He also uses Cointreau, agave nectar, honey, lime juice and a green liqueur called Agwa, made from Bolivian coca leaves, which has “a weird flavor by itself but blends perfectly in this drink.” Merino is always shooting for complexity and balance.

He puts all the elements into a blender with a little ice. Before pouring, he coats the rim of the glass with nopal salt, which consists of dehydrated cactus, lemongrass and other spices.

And he uses cactus and agave in one fizzy mix.

Well, this is what you get after I’ve just spent the whole day trying to set up a new POS system for the store.

News26 Aug 2008 01:35 pm

Jane Armstrong, a restoration artist with Evergreen Painting Studios, restores the mural that was under layers of paint at the Alameda Theater in Alameda, CA on Thursday afternoon, August 7th, 2008. (Laura A. Oda/The Oakland Tribune)

“(I)t has such a free-flowing, symmetric design to it. I love the style,” Armstrong said. “It has a bit of a cubist element to it, with shades of a stylized desert-cactus landscape. And the use of the (silver and gold) leaf and the way space is created within it are sophisticated, quite sophisticated….”

With the mural project wrapping up, the theater will develop the surrounding space as a wine and cappuccino bar for adults.

I think wine is the underlying theme for the blog today.

News26 Aug 2008 09:09 am

Someone at UCLA wants to know how drugs affect the brain and what they can do to help patients with terminal illnesses. And so we get a scholarly reference to Peyote.

The way hallucinogens such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), psilocybin and mescaline (the active ingredient in the peyote cactus) act on the brain is reasonably well understood by scientists. The drugs stick to chemical receptors on nerve cells that normally bind the neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects a broad range of brain activities. But how this leads to the profoundly altered states of consciousness, perception and mood that typically accompany a “trip” is not known….

Since the 1970s, scientific research into the effects hallucinogenic drugs have on the brain and their potential benefits has become a pariah field for any scientist who wanted to keep their reputation…

“As a culture we just decided clinical research shouldn’t be done with this class of compounds”…

“These drugs, these experiences are not for the mystic who wants to sit on the mountain top and meditate. They are not for the counter-culture rebel. They are for everybody,” he said.

Such a long quote when the part about the cactus was really quite minor. I wonder what that says about me? Now you’ll all think I’m some kind of drug addict, when really my drug of choice is vodka. And gin. A little rum on occasion. Lot’s of California red wines. Sometimes a french red. My mom thinks I’m an alcoholic since she once saw me have a 2nd glass of wine with dinner. She doesn’t know about the 16 shots of Jameson I did in my fraternity days, Go Delts.

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