Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

Sponsored Links

When the bullet hits the bone



~Golden Earring~
‘When the bullet hits the bone’



Somewhere in a lonely hotel room
there’s a guy starting to realize
that eternal fate has turned its back on him.
It’s 2 AM.


It’s 2 AM, my fear is gone.
I’m sitting here waiting.
The gun’s still warm.
Maybe my connection’s tired of taking chances…


Yeah, there’s a storm on the loose.
Sirens in my head.
Wrapped up in silence,
all circuits are dead.
Cannot decode.
My whole life spins into a frenzy.


Help I’m stepping into the twilight zone.
The place is a mad house.
Feels like being cloned.
My beacon’s been moved under moon and star.
Where am I to go now that I’ve gone too far?
Yeah, you are gonna know
when the bullet hits the bone.

I’m falling down the spiral.
Destination unknown.
Double-crossed messenger, all alone.
Can’t get no connection.
Can’t get through, where are you?

Well, the night weighs heavy on his guilty mind.
This far from the border line.
When the hitman comes,
he knows damn well he has been cheated.
And he says…




Yves Rossy, the first person to fly a backpack jet machine over the English Channel


Sung by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin




She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone


Hockey Moms for Truth



Jethro Tull: No Lullaby

~Jethro Tull~
‘ No Lullaby’

Keep your eyes open and prick up your ears —
rehearse your loudest cry.
There’s folk out there who would do you harm
so I’ll sing you no lullaby.
There’s a lock on the window; there’s a chain on the door:
a big dog in the hall.
But there’s dragons and beasties out there in the night
to snatch you if you fall.

So come out fighting with your rattle in hand.
Thrust and parry. Light
a match to catch the devil’s eye. Bring
a cross of fire to the fight.

And let no sleep bring false relief
from the tension of the fray.
Come wake the dead with the scream of life.
Do battle with ghosts at play.

Gather your toys at the call-to-arms
and swing your big bear down.
Upon our necks when we come to set
you sleeping safe and sound.

It’s as well we tell no lie
to chase the face that cries.
And little birds can’t fly
so keep an open eye.
It’s as well we tell no lie
so I’ll sing you no lullaby.




Confirmed Kill

‘One Trap, One Kill’
‘Death From Below’

   Yep, some things just keep sticking you in the craw, and there ain’t much you can do but keep fighting back, day after day and year after year… and you know you’re never gonna get rid of them, but you darn sure can’t give in or you’ll be over run.
   Some of those things are government interference, taxes and gophers. Yeah, we have issues with deer also, but I can usually keep them out by fence… but there isn’t much I can do about the gophers except to trap them, (and we all know the government ain’t going away… but really, consider the alternative…).
  I’ve set up perching posts and left live tall trees for raptors to perch on (and we see plenty of them), we’ve got a small army of cats (the Mouse Police), and specially trained  dogs that can enter the tunnels (the Black Echo) and hunt down these vermin… no, I’m kidding. The cats are lazy and the dogs though small won’t fit into gopher holes no matter how hard I shove them.  So, it’s left to me to trap them, otherwise they eat and eat and eat and would decimate our plantings.   The first thing you need to do when trapping or hunting anything is to know it’s habit’s, needs and wants. Where we live, in this time of year the gophers sleep in the mid day and are most active near dusk and dawn. They like to bed down well before noon knowing their tunnels are closed up, and any animal entering would make a lot of noise and wake them. So they close the ends of the tunnels before sleeping in late morning much like humans might lock their doors before going to bed. You need to set the traps in the morning, and before they go to sleep they’ll feel the draft from the hole you purposely leave open to attract them. So set the traps in the early morning, or early evening… if you set it in mid day, he’ll be sleepy and not want to deal with it, and leery of the bright sunlight, and will backfill from deeper in the hole, and spring the trap. 



Gopher damage



  Here’s a photo of what one gopher can do. This is a sunflower stalk that was about five feet tall, pulled into the hole the gopher dug underneath it, and then he just chews on the stalk pulling it into his hole as he eats.  The dogs know there’s something in there…. but I don’t want them nose to nose with a mean angry gopher (gophers have got huge scary yellow teeth and aren’t afraid to use them).



   This is just an access hole, and not too good to place a trap into from this angle. You need to dig down and get to where the tunnel runs horizontally along beneath the soil surface. To do this you need to open a good sized hole into the ground. This means you also need somewhere to put what might be a few cubic feet of dirt.



   It used to be I tried to get by without digging a huge hole, because that often means I have to dig up nearby plants that are just fine.  But if you don’t set the trap at the right place, you’re less likely to get the gopher. And that means the next day he’ll eat one of the plants you did not want to dig up, and you’ve still got  a loose gopher (not a good thing).



  With practice, you can get to nearly a 100% kill rate. And this is done without the use of poisonous gasses or edibles that might result in a poisonous carcass. But still, killing an animal is something that many people find reprehensible…




    Gopher hole excavated open


This is the hole the gopher used to get to this area…. I had to dig about a foot deep to get to this spot. But now the tunnel runs horizontally on, and I have room for the trap to be placed, as well as a vertical surface at the face of the excavated tunnel to ensure a good seal between the trap and the tunnel wall.



Gopher hole excavated open and trap set



I push the trap up to the hole and try to fit it snug to the wall.    This i a trap made by the Victor Company. You can find them at most any hardware store.
When I handle the traps, I hold them by the wire spring at the top. I try to reduce human scent on it where possible. After each use, the trap lays ‘business side’ up so the sun can do much of its sterilization work.  You can see the huge number of roots from the cactus here. Notice cactus roots do not generally go straight down. Indeed, they run not too far beneath the surface of the soil.



   The texture of our soil can also be seen in this photo. In this spot, the arroyo has washed silt gravels together to form a deep, well-draining soil. Years of mulch additions and recycling of nutrients and plant matter has given us a porous soil with high organic matter content (14%). This is just about a perfect soil for the cactus. 



Gopher hole excavated open and trap set and baited



Now you need to use some soil to seal the entire trap up against the tunnel. But you need to keep the tiny hole at the end of the trap open to the air… this makes the gopher think the end of the tunnel has been pushed open and he will want to close it up, but he will want to walk to the hole to examine it and start the work…that is when he will spring the trap with his nose. If there is any light leakage at all around the area where the trap is pushed to the wall and sealed off with dirt, the animal will start to seal it off at that area… this will either spring the trap harmlessly, or fill the thing up with dirt. So if you are going to try to catch a gopher, it is best to take the extra care and time to do a good job setting the trap and you are almost sure to catch him.



  In this case, since he was eating his stalk at leisure when I first came upon him… I broke the stalk to release its scent, and I placed it by the end of the trap where the hole is. This would perhaps waft the tantalizing smell of sunflower stalk through his tunnels and cause him to hurry back to the stalk as soon as he felt my footsteps recede. 



 Gopher hole excavated open and trap set and baited with gopher caught  


  When you come back and see this, it can mean the trap is sprung due to the animal kicking dirt into it… but a closer look here reveals the dirt has been shaken free vigorously, the trap has been moved considerably by the death throes of a gopher.



   Last year I kept a tally of confirmed kills, and was at about 35 in April when the grisly tally lost its luster and I stopped keeping track.



  I’m not crazy about killing gophers, but I really haven’t had any success with any of the ‘earth vibrating’ devices we’ve tried. And with the economic losses that gophers can inflict on us…. I see no alternative to trapping when the gophers have gotten past the ring of owls and cats around our gardens.   




‘And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps’
~Jethro Tull~



Muscled, black with steel-green eye
swishing through the rye grass
with thoughts of mouse-and-apple pie.
Tail balancing at half-mast.
…And the mouse police never sleeps —
lying in the cherry tree.
Savage bed foot-warmer of purest feline ancestry.
Look out, little furry folk!
He’s the all-night working cat.
Eats but one in every ten —
leaves the others on the mat.
…And the mouse police never sleeps —
waiting by the cellar door.
Window-box town crier;
birth and death registrar.
With claws that rake a furrow red —
licensed to multilate.
From warm milk on a lazy day
to dawn patrol on hungry hate.
…No, the mouse police never sleeps —
climbing on the ivy.
Windy roof-top weathercock.
Warm-blooded night on a cold tile.


tough old cat

Tough old Gnarles, he was a bad %$$ cat!
He once even bit my thumbnail off!


He just wandered in one day and stayed near the porch.  Sometimes he’d disappear for weeks. One time he came back covered head to toe with huge stratches… he didn’t look too good for a while, but eventually his wounds healed and his hair grew back.

  Life just keeps wanting to go on… life doesn’t give up easy.






Bulk and planting cactus almost ready to pick


Rivenrock Cactus



  We have our larger plants almost ready to pick for our large commercial accounts. These are the leaves used for feed, medicinal, research, or cosmetic uses.  They tend to come into production in ‘flushes’ of growth, so for the large buyers, we keep them informed as to the stage of growth of the current leaves, and when they are nearing their desired maturity, they place the order and have their own people and equipment getting ready while we cut, pack and ship the leaves. For these large orders, we can cut one thousand pounds a day.

Opuntia robusta

   This is the Opuntia robusta, used by Aveda for their ‘Green Science’ line of cosmetics.


Opuntia ficus-indica


   These above and below are the Opuntia ficus-indica.
  They are used by a company that freeze dries them after cutting the leaves into cubes.

Opuntia ficus-indica




Benefits of Cactus for Diabetes



We have customers who say they buy our cactus for its effects in helping control diabetes.


   Wanting to know how many studies of this might have been conducted I Googled the term ‘Cactus, diabetes’ and got 790,000  links to examine.



   One that I thought was particularly interesting is ‘The Unacknowledged Nopal’ by Connie Lane.
  One particular phrase…“For many diabetics or prediabetics, nopal is a complete replacement for prescription blood sugar drugs. It regulates blood sugar with no negative side effects and no liver damage (which is one of the primary side effects of blood sugar prescriptions).
   Nopal is a key ingredient in many highly effective (and safe) blood sugar regulating nutritional supplements. …Mexican researchers found that people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes given broiled nopalstems experienced a large drop in blood sugar levels….It has been shown that daily consumption of 250mg of this plant will lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, according to a recent study. HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels were not affected. “




  Nutra Ingredients.com says in ‘Cactus Pear Pads Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk’….”

Bacardi-Gascon and co-workers from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California report that blood sugar levels were reduced in all meal types when nopales were consumed simultaneously, compared to those not supplemented with the cactus pear….

Reductions also varied depending on the meal, with nopales plus quesadillas being associated with a 48 reduction, nopales plus chilaquiles associated with a 30 per cent reduction, and nopales plus burritos associated with a 20 per cent reduction.”




  The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) says ‘Dietary Cactus reduces blood glucose levels…”
   One excerpt.. “At the health center, two other diabetic patients were also utilizing cactus in combination with prescription medications. Over a 6-month period, one patient’s A1C decreased from 10.4% to 6.7% and another’s went from 13.5% to 5.4%. All these patients added cactus to their diet, but none of the three made any other known lifestyle changes, such as adopting an exercise program or otherwise altering diet. None of the patients received extensive nutritional education. “




   ‘Find Articles’ says “Prickly pear cactus appears to be safe when consumed as food. When used medicinally to lower blood sugar levels, it has proven itself to be trustworthy and effective for individuals with diabetes while not triggering hypoglycemia. “



   The US National Institute of Healthsays… “RESULTS: Based on the preliminary meta-analysis of the six studies identified to date, ingestion of prickly pear cactus reduces serum glucose levels among persons with diabetes on the order of 10 to 30 mg/dL at 30 to 180 minutes post-ingestion when measured as the difference from baseline.”




   And no discussion of cactus as medicine can be complete without the latest declarative work on the subject by Ran Knishinsky… ‘Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine’.




   Much more research has to be done before science is ready to declare “Cactus is good for you… in fact for some people it is indeed medicine”.  But it does look like that day will be coming along sooner or later.






Demo Reel Development


  An actor’s ‘Demo reel’ is a very important piece of gear. It is in some ways a bit more important than the actor’s resume. For instance, with thirty seconds of viewing a casting director can determine if the actor has the right mannerisms, vocal and physical qualities they desire for the part. A demo reel also shows the degree of professional commitment that the actor has. In short, a professional demo reel is a very important tool in the quiver of an actor. 

  Usually in the past, one had to get work on high quality projects, and then use the snippets from those in building a reel… but this brings us to the old saw… “we’re only taking people with experience”. Yes, how do you get a demo reel together before you’ve worked your first major pieces that you can use for material?  Well, you can get some professional friends together to film you in some scene, and lay that onto the reel…. but how many of us have friends with the grip trucks, lighting, cameras, and sound to make the best possible reel footage? And how do you go about extracting the material you do get and putting it on the reel properly formatted with music score and titles to catch the attention of casting directors in that most important ‘first thirty seconds’?  Well, some friends of mine in North Hollywood have made such a venture possible… they are an actor training group called ACT, and the head man Tim Lampros recently announced they have not only the ability to do this (their production values are top-notch), but now they offer the entire service… I highly recommend this as one of the first stops for a new actor on his/her way to the bright lights.  Here’s the e-mail they sent… and be aware, they are good folks, and the director Frank is a great fellow to work with.


The most important job you have as an actor is to get hired. This is why Casting Directors and other Decision Makers need to see you In Action.


Director Frank Tammariello is back and offering an exciting new service for Actors. As you may know, Frank has directed over 200 national TV commercials in the last fifteen years, been a member of the DGA (Directors Guild of America) since 1988, and won national recognition and CLIO awards along the way – his Commercials are even in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art – but this is the important part:


Frank is uniquely QUALIFIED to produce and direct a short DEMO SCENE to sell you to the producers, casting directors, and other decision makers in this business. Over the many years of his career he has persuaded the American viewing audience to buy millions of dollars worth of products and services through specialized short films also known as Commercials. And that is exactly what every actor who does not yet have a reel of co-starring roles in film or television MUST HAVE to showcase them selves. This is an essential tool for a professional actor, more effective than a headshot or an interview / Actors Slate. In fact, these days a reel is a requirement for many casting websites.




We produce a Custom – One of a Kind – one to two minute scene, tailored to fit your own specific talents and showcase your unique strengths. This scene will be shot film-style on interior sets with professional lighting and state of the art equipment; then edited, scored, mixed and delivered finished on DVD, and as a data file for the Web (the easiest way to get in front of the decision makers anytime – day or night).




The scenes selected to showcase you are based on consultations with you to determine what best fits the career path you are pursuing in the biz; chosen to give casting directors a clear message about what you are right for. That’s step one.


Once the production process begins you will have a table read with your scene partner followed by a blocking rehearsal(s), wardrobe session, and then a one day shoot on set or location. BTW: The rehearsal and shoot is based on your day to day schedule. The price is $695 for most scenes shot on set – $1095 if outside locations are necessary.


Post production/ Editing are next in the three week process. Completion and final delivery will be within 30 days.


Book now so that we can schedule your Demo Scene into what promises to be a very busy production slate.


Call or e-mail the studio today and make an appointment to meet with Frank, view the demo scenes he has been producing for ACT grads and other actors and discuss what works best for you and your career.




A.C.T. 818 761-7986






   I’ve always loved sunflowers. While I appreciate pretty things, I’m even more interested in practical things… and eating is a practice I enjoy very much.. so I really appreciate ‘double-duty’ things such as this sunflower. In a few months we’ll be eating our own oven-roasted sunflower seeds, along with the pumpkin seeds we roast in winter. We get double duty from that also, we tend to roast seeds when the weather is cool, so we warm the house at the same time.   I lived as a kid in Spain for four years. We lived not far from a farm that had tall sunflowers lining the roadway every summer. I enjoyed walking between the tall stands of bright yellow flowers so far above my head.  Now, whenever I see a sunflower, I cannot help but remember those bucolic summers, wading through marshes for frogs after I slipped past the farm road with it’s towering sunflowers. Spain was a good place for a kid to grow up. 


    Here is a close up of the activities that go on in nature… here the honey bees have taken it as their lot to polinate the flowers as they gather the pollen and nectar they need for their hive.

   Bees are such great workers….

   There is a wild hive not far from here, I haven’t found it yet… I wander around and can smell it… hives have a scent that I can only describe as ‘Homey’. Yes, whenever I’ve pried the lid off a domestic hive, or broken into a wild hive… that thick heavy musky/sweet smell comes to my nostrils… it makes me think of home. I can surely understand that bees enjoy their homes, and it must be a great feeling for a bee to come home after a long flight gathering nectar… to come to the landing pad and greet the guard bees and enter into the warm hive, the buzzing of thousands of bees in the air. That heavy redolent scent in the thick hive environment… the smells of the young, the queen… the wax sealing the cells tracked over with the footfalls of thousands of little bee feet.

  Yeah,  a hive is a good home for a bee.

   And it is true, there’s no sweeter taste ever than that of fresh honey comb, straight from the hive, still warm from the bees work.



  You can see here the way that nature provides for everything in its own way. For instance, the flowers of the sunflower (a sunflower is actually composed of many hundreds of individual flowers in the huge head) ripen from the outside in… as the head grows it pushes the newly formed flowers out from the center…. as they mature and open, the bees will visit them, gathering the nectar they need, and pollinating the flowers as they work.  This will give the bees a two or three week period of fresh flowers daily, encouraging them to return time and again, and passing the location on to the others in theirhive. Without the work of the bees, we’d have no fertile sunflower seeds, only empty seedpods. So I do wish to encourage the bees by not killing them with pesticides (we are an organic farm after all), and when I do find the hive, if I break into it, I’ll also provide them with a  fresh hive to live in.. and I’ll leave most of their honey for them to transfer to the man-made hive I’ll provide them with.
  With luck I’ll have some really nice sage honeycomb in spring!








Manzanita  is a very pretty plant native to California.


   It has a peculiar bark shedding… but it makes some very pretty wood.