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Long Black Veil ~Lefty Frizzell~

‘Long Black Veil’
~Lefty Frizzell~

Ten years ago on a cold dark night
There was someone killed beneath the town hall light
There were few at the scene, but they all agree
That the slayer who ran looked a lot like me
The judge said son what is your alibi
If you were somewhere else then you won’t have to die
I spoke not a word though it meant my life
For I had been in the arms of my best friend’swife

She walks these hills
In a long black veil
She visits my grave
When the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees, 
nobody knows but me 

The scaffold is high and eternity near
She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear
But sometimes at night when the cold wind blows
In a long black veil she cries over my bones

She walks these hills
In a long black veil
She visits my grave
When the night winds wail
Nobody knows,nobody sees, 
Nobody knows but me  
Nobody knows but me 
Nobody knows but me 

‘Turpentine Jake’, A Story of Slavery in 1937 America

We got the mail below inviting us to a play… we can’t make it, but thought we’d pass the info on.  One of the lead actors is a fellow I met on another project. It is he (Derek Shaun) who sent us the e-mail.

Turpentine Jake: A Story of Slavery in 1937 America








For tonight ( Thursday, July 31st ) and Sunday, Aug. 3rd, I will be performing in the lead role of Jake, understudying Mr. James E. Hurd. When James is performing as Jake, I will be performing the character of TUSH. I will also send the remaining dates that I will be performing as Jake, in which the character TUSH will then be performed by the multi-talented comedian/actor ElJaye . Thank you all for your continued support. Peace and
blessings always.

D. Shaun


Turpentine Jake
by Linda Bannister and James E. Hurd, Jr.
August 1 – 24, 2008
Friday & Saturday at 8:00pm
Sunday at 3:00pm
Del Rey Theatre
Loyola Marymount University
Call (310) 338-7588
Turpentine Jake is a slice-of-life in the Florida Turpentine camps of the 1930s, where Black workers were enslaved under “debt peonage.“ This is the true story of one man who escaped. Play includes original work songs and folk tales.

Tickets & Directions:

To purchase tickets for our upcoming production of Turpentine Jake,
please call the
Central Ticket Agency of Loyola Mary mount University at (310) 338-7588.
The Central Ticket Agency voicemail is available 24/7.
 The office is open Monday.Wednesday.Friday 10am to 4pm.
General Admission: $25.00
Students (with ID) and Seniors (62+): $20.00
The Del Rey Theatre is located in North Hall 102, behind Doheny and Sullivan halls. (Campus Map)

  Derek Shaun is a fellow I worked with on another period piece, that one was a film set in the Carolinas also in the nineteen thirties. Derek and the rest of the cast and crew were fine professional and yet fun folks to work with about an emotionally difficult subject, yet one that due to the skills of the writer/director and the professionalism of everyone, we were able to get it done in a fashion I trust will be well received when it is released sometime next year (whew, that’s a long sentence).

   Yeah Derek, I’d love to see the show, you folks go and ‘break a leg’!

John’s Didgeridoos

John on his favorite Didge, one by \'Hicks sticks\'.

John on his favorite Didge, one by ‘Hicks sticks’.

John\'s Didgeridoos, 2006

Here are John’s Didgeridoos, 2006



   Yesterday I was on the ABC show called ‘Wipeout’. I had a good time, the whole thing was a blast, and I met some really nice people.  One young lady there named Lili Asvar took some photos and sent me some telling me I can print them up.

John and some of the other contestants of Wipeout

John and some of the other contestants of Wipeout

John and some of the other contestants of Wipeout

John Dicus and some of the other contestants of Wipeout

John Dicus on Wipeout

John Dicus on the set of ‘Wipeout’, June 2008

Chris Kinyon

Chris Kinyon AKA ‘B-Boy Spider’ does a dance stand on the set of ‘Wipeout’


Hot Days, Pale Cactus

A customer wrote us a little note, they wanted us to know that they like the leaves we’re sending out… but they noted that the leaves seem paler than last year… here’s the note I sent back…


   I’d say these hot temperatures might be making them paler.


   We’ve had nothing but weather in the mid eighties to over 100 for the last three months.  I’m giving them plenty of water, and they do seem to be enjoying themselves.  But the leaves tend to become paler to reduce solar gain. With a lighter color they are less likely to get as hot on a  100 degree day.  I’ve noticed that in the winter they are darker, I think in that case they are trying to become darker to bring in more heat from the sun on those weak-sunned winter days.


  So we’re back again to the fact that agriculture cannot be as regulated as a factory with regulated environmental conditions. If I had my druthers it’d be seventy three degrees around the clock and year, and it would rain three nights a week each week through the year, and the rain would always fall between one AM and four AM (unless I need to go somewhere early, then I’d have to toggle the raintime).

   We had an old farmer down the road who told me twenty years ago  “that’s the great thing about farmin’, you never know what’s gonna happen”.   Almost anytime the conditions give us too much rain, too much cold, too little rain, or too much heat…. too many insects, or deer or gophers, I think about what that farming philosopher told me nearly half my life ago.

Calif Native Garden Fundraiser

   We got an invitation to this fundraiser, and we decided that while we can’t make it, we’d donate the edible cactus leaves to them for the nice meal they’ll make.  They are sending out this last-minute solicitation or the banquet.


Your Invited to an Eating California Banquet and Fundraiser for CNGF!

Press Release: Eating California

The California Native Garden Foundation invites you to attend our summer fund raising
banquet, Eating California, on August 2, 2008 at the Palo Alto Art Center at 1313
Newell Road, Palo Alto.
The banquet, which features a tasting menu of over 25 California native foods, is
the culmination of a series of classes taught this spring by John Farais, a chef
 who specializes in indigenous edible cuisine and Alrie Middlebrook, a garden designer,
and co-author of the book, Designing California Native Gardens.
“John and I hope that gardeners, cooks, and anyone who enjoys delicious, locally
 grown food will share California’s bounty with us.  John has created recipes that
we’re sure will inspire more people to discover the great taste and nutritional
value of our native food crops.  And what could be more fun and sustainable than
 learning to garden and cook creative healthy recipes with the foods that naturally
grow in California!”

-Alrie Middlebrook
(Founder and President, California Native Garden Foundation)
Napalitos Salsa
Sage and Cornmeal Crackers
Cattail Asparagus
Native Crab Cakes
Berries of California
Elderberry Bread
Soups & Salads
Summer Forager’s Salad
Kelp and Pine Nut Salad
Wild Greens and Oyster Soup
Native Fruit Cold Soup
Venison Saddle with Berry Juniper Catsup
Muscovy Duck with Nettle, Pine Nuts, and Honey Glaze
Amaranth Ravioli stuffed with Hazelnut hummus and Wild Sage Brown Butter
Wild Greens Gnocchi
Grape Dumplings
Prickly Pear Brulee
Acorn Brownies
Chocolate Amaranth
Huckleberry Ice Cream
Prickly Pear Gelato
Elderberry Sorbet
Yucca cakes
Douglas Fir Tea
Manzanita Cider
The food will be prepared by the students in the class, Chef Farais, and other guest
chefs.  A no-host cocktail bar featuring local, organic wines and prickly pear margaritas
will open at 5:30 PM. The progressive banquet, which kicks off at 6:15, will be
staged in seven courses. The event will end at 9:00 PM.
“One of my favorite sayings is:  Food forms the most intimate connection that we
 have with our environment. One of the problems with our current food system is
that we as a culture are out of touch with where our food comes from.  The CNGF
Eating California program takes it a step further by both teaching us about where
our food comes from, and by teaching how to use the wild foods native to our local
-Aaron French
(Eco-Chef, The Sunny Side Café and Owner, Sunny Side Organics)
Between the courses, attendees will be entertained by our guest speaker, Dr.. Kat
 Andersen, author of Tending the Wild. Dr. Anderson spent several years interviewing
and recording the oral histories of California indigenous people. Here Kat will
describe native food gathering and harvesting techniques, including prescribed burning
and other sophisticated agricultural practices.
Representatives from regional schools and local non-profit organizations who are
 the recipients of the Foundation’s services will describe their native garden projects
and show photos of their progress. Many raffle items have been donated for this
event, including delicious foods, native plants, professional gardening and landscaping
products and services, coupons for fine restaurant dining, and several valuable
surprise items. The funds generated by this event will be used for the CNGF’s Garden
Designer Scholarship Fund and matching grants for native garden construction, which
are available to California schools and non-profit organizations.
All seating is reserved and limited. Tickets for this event are $150.00 each and
 can be purchased online at cngf.org or via US mail to:
The California Native Garden Foundation,
76 Race. St. San Jose, CA. 95126

A letter to a commercial buyer

   We got a letter from a  large organic food company letting us know they would soon be purchasing from us.   They also asked if we had any aloe to sell… this is the response I sent them..


  We have a huge aloe plant, and since it is cared for like everything else here organically, and is on the organically certified land, it would be organic also. But it is in a really nice improved soil and is oddly watery when cut.  The cut leaves might best be shipped packed into five gallon buckets like we sell our cactus fruits.  I don’t know if the aloe would be the one you want, I associate aloe with gel, this particular plant is watery I think due to the great soil mix on that terrace it is on.  We sent some leaves recently to someone else who asked for them, he also commented on the odd watery nature of that plant…. if you are interested, we could send you a five gallon bucket so you can see how you like it. I’d need to charge, but we’d give you a discount so you can evaluate it. Five gallons might be some fifteen lbs I’d imagine. If you want, I could pack it in, if you’re going to juice it anyway that might not hurt anything at all. And you get more weight packed in. If we do that, I would take cuttings as we go, and plant them soon, and by next summer we could have a good supply of aloe.


   But the edible cactus has been our main product, and it is good.


   We’ve got an edible cactus special running right now, a 16 inch cubed box, weighing some 50 to 55 lbs at mailing, we’re selling them for $60.  Some of them are tending a bit larger in the leaves, but still at a good stage for eating. In fact there is some value in the larger leaves as long as they have not matured to the point of pithiness; they are easier to clean for the food weight… they have the same number of spines as the smaller ones, it’s just they are farther apart.

   With this special you pay us after you get the cactus… we charge the sixty dollars and whatever the shipping through UPS is. We tack that on, and send you the UPS shipping receipt in the box of cactus. Just add that price to the sixty dollars, and that’s the total owed. If you have a UPS shipping account and wish us to ship using that account number, we like it even better because we are not out any funds to ship… in that case, we’ll extend thirty days billing for your boxes of cactus.  You might be able to sell them before you even need to pay us.


  What is the use you need them for? Are you going to process them in any way? Perhaps there is a certain stage of growth that would suit you well.  We have several buyers who have specific growth stages they like, we try to work to everyone’s satisfaction to get them what is best for them.


  These cactus will last a couple of weeks in good shape. I imagine you did some experimentations with what we sent you. I imagine also that you were mightily impressed with the leaves.. they are very high quality.. and that usually continues (barring natural or deer disaster) until November. After that the quality suffers as the winter storms pummel us. The best season is from June to November.  But we do have availability through most of the winter most years… but a hard winter can take a toll. Some years we sell no cactus at all for a few months in the late winter.  We have a newsletter you can sign up for, any disruptions will be announced using that medium.

   But even with what I consider to be lower quality in winter, it is usually better than what others might be able to supply. Quality is our big asset. And being organic helps us with the quality issue.


   We welcome your business,  orders are best done by e-mail so I have the address and I’ll know to send you cactus.




what the difference is between napolitas and Nopalea Grande cactus?

  A customer asked us a question about cactus today.. we thought we’d pass the Q and A to you all…


 Can you please tell me what the difference is between  napolitas and Nopalea Grande cactus?
 Thank you

Hello Nancy,

    The Nopalea Grande cactus we sell is a cactus of the opuntia genus. The species is called Opuntia cochenillifera. It is a highly developed cactus bred through millennia for a shortage of spines, ease of preparation and unique lemony taste along with a delightful crunch.


   Nopales is the Spanish word for ‘Cactus’.  In reference to edible cactus the term is used generically to refer to edible cactus generally and specifically of the Opuntia genus (AKA Prickly Pear).


   Nopalitos is the diminutive term for nopales, it refers to nopales that have been prepared trimmed and washed and cut into strips.


   Cactus can often be found in California food markets already prepared. But once the leaf is cut open, oxidation begins it’s work at destroying the juices and meat of the leaf. It is for this reason we recommend you buy your cactus whole, and prepare it shortly before eating.


   The diminutive term ‘ito’ in Spanish is a term to refer to a smaller or younger version of the prefix. In such a  way a man might be know as Miguel (Mike), but the neighbors might refer to his son as Miguelito (Little Mikey).


   Actually, part of the fun of learning about cactus is the smack dab immersion into the Mexican culture that it gives you tantalizing glimpses into.  Cactus is held to a near mythical status in Mexico. For millennia the various species of cactus and other desert plants have given shelter, food, dyes, and textiles to the Mexican cultures.  In Mexico the Opuntia cactus is held in such high regard that it is featured prominently on the Mexican flag.


   We appreciate it for its ability to fit so well into our local environment and soils. This cactus is so well adapted to our local environs that it seems the most beneficial and least environmentally adverse plant to grow in this area.


   Thanks for the question!



Boric Acid Ant Killer

   I have anAnt Killer we use in the house. It’s a pretty benign little chemical called Boric Acid which you can get at many pharmacies. It’s not the most dangerous thing in the world, but in the interests of self preservation in legal situations, I must encourage you to wear a rubber apron, face shield with chemical goggles, Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, Nitrile gloves, and mix the preparation behind a splash shield and under a ventilation hood… and like any chemical, you should consult the MSDS for proper protection.  While you’re at it, make sure you have a properly trained EMT and QA tech to watch you, as well as a Chemical Engineer to read aloud the instructions as you mix.  Make sure your chemical Fire Extinguisher is at hand also…. you just can’t be too careful you know.

   A friend who knows how well this works, and has seen it in action, recently asked me for the recipe, so I enclose it here for him and others….

   Boric acid ant killer recipe follows….


1 cup sugar

3 cups water

1 teaspoon Boric Acid


   Bring the water and sugar to a boil and add the boric acid allowing it to dissolve into the water.


  Let it cool and it will be a thin syrup.


   Pour the syrup into cotton filled containers and place where ants can get to them (which is just about anywhere).


   The ants will travel long distances to get the syrup, filling up on it and carrying it to the nest feeding it to the young and the queen. The boric acid is a slow acting killer to ants, you want to let the ants eat it for a couple of days so that they can feed it through the whole colony. So the formulation should not be too strong, or the ants will die before they get back to the colony and feed it to the others there.


   We’ve had people telling us they could not stand to ‘feed’ the ants. Yes, sometimes the cup or saucer with this formula will be crawling with tons of ants, all lapping up the syrup excitedly, their little antennae twitching in delight as the ravenously inhale the sweet dessert you have made specially for them. Then happily, their little syrup filled grocery bags under their little ant arms, they will trot home happy as a pig in mud, eager to share the delectable syrup with their sisters and mama in the colony.


  Expect to see a reduction in ants visiting the dispenser after a couple of days. On the third day the few you see are obviously adversely affected by the formula, yet… being the diligent little workers they are, they drag themselves, stumbling and halting to the feeder dish with the life-stealing syrup, their little heads fall into the syrup to fill up, just one more time, to take the syrup back to a colony on it’s last legs.


   Yeah, there’s a philosophy to killing ants, and even though it is sad to kill living things, I do need to reduce their numbers to reduce the damage the ants cause to the skin of the cactus. Oddly enough, the ants are one of our greatest environmental problems we have interfering with our production of the very finest cactus. So we work diligently to keep their numbers low. We are organically certified, so we have to stick to name brands of products, so for killing ants, we have for a number of years used the ‘Safers Brand of Ant and Roach Killer’. But to tell ya the truth, I liked my old recipe printed above better. And it’s cheaper to boot! So feel free to make that recipe above, it works right fine and is environmentally responsible.

Calif Native Garden Fundraiser

California Native Garden Foundation


Alrie Middlebrook who is an organizer of the California Native Garden Foundation sent us a letter recently to let us know of their fundraiser they are having soon. Here’s part of the e-mail she sent us…


 We are starting a movement in California with the intention of  reintroducing these native foods, which are highly nutritious and tasty to the people of California. The plants, if considered for agricultural crops, are the most sustainable sources of food. Just imagine, for example, how many resources could be saved if we are successful in creating clever ways to introduce acorns into mainstream diets. It would lead to a tremendous reduction in water use, a reduction in the use of petrochemicals for fertilizer and pest control, and less disturbance of natural ecosystems, to name a few of the obvious. We want you to be a part of this new food revolution in California.
 Because the Eating California classes are taught through the CNGF, this event is a fund raiser for the Foundation.  Whatever you can donate and at whichever level you choose, your benefits are described in the sponsorship attatchment. Our goals at the CNGF are to educate the people of California about how to garden with native plants, to help design, build and steward native gardens in schools and other community based non-profits and to help make more species of native plants available to more Californians. We believe one of the best ways to do this is to create and serve great tasting native foods. We hope you will help us by sponsoring Eating California at the highest level you choose.  Please find enclosed the Sponsorship Categories and a Press Release for the Event, as well as your invitation. Thank you.

  We’ll see you on Saturday night, August 2nd in Palo Alto for Eating California. Please join us for a prickly pear margarita at 5:30 and spend an evening celebrating and tasting the new food revolution of California.


   We’ve had association with Alrie and her group before. We were part of a huge fundraiser some five years ago where we showed up in San Jose with a truckload of cactus and merchandise. We really enjoyed the attendees, the roster of ‘mentionable people’ was impressive. Some of the largest names in the organics, native plants and edible cactus philosophies and trades were at hand. This time will surely be no different. The media of the Bay Area will be present, and Sunset magazine has expressed interest in attending also.

   Sadly, we’ll not be attending this time, but will donate a large box of cactus for the fundraiser… it is scheduled to ship on the 28th.  So if you do attend the fundraiser and eat some cactus, it could very well be from us.. Rivenrock Gardens.