Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

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I’m no mycologist, but it is still interesting looking at mushrooms… but I’ll not eat any I find.

  These are interesting looking….

   The rain we’ve had the last couple of weeks has given us a fair amount of mushrooms popping up here and there.

   The rain has not been torrential… mostly it has been intermittent showers, day after day, with a few days clear after five days of showers and light rain.

My Sweet Annette

~Drive-By Truckers~
‘My Sweet Annette

Me and my Annette, we was as fond as we could be
We was set to marry in October 33
I set my sights on courtin’ her, as fine as she could be
I never ever noticed her best friend Marilee

Took a job at the saw mill and I bought my girl a ring,
Had a pre-weddin’ party, close friends and family
Everything was fine, eatin homemade ice cream
I swear I never noticed maid of honor, Marilee

My Sweet Annette was left standing at the alter

Marilee was taken ill, it was several miles from home
Back then it wasn’t fittin’ for a girl to leave alone
Sweet Annette, she asked me to walk her to the door
As innocent as children back before the war

My Sweet Annette was left standing at the alter

Lord have mercy for what we done,
Lord have mercy when two people get alone
Neither one of us had done anything like that you see
By the next sunset, I had eloped with Marilee.

My Sweet Annette was left standing at the alter.

Luna and the Queen of the Planets

Venus and the Moon made for a great display this evening,

    and I was lucky enough to get a nice picture of it.


Moon and Venus

Moon and Venus



   The shot was taken looking over our neighbor’s ‘Grassy Knoll’.

   I found a great web page that describes this particular astronomical occurrence.

Rivenrock ‘Way-Back Machine’

Yep, the ‘Way-Back Machine’ takes screen shots of web sites, so that years later you can go back and view the changes.




We came upon the Rivenrock.com listing which makes me smile… looking at the years rolling by.  You can go back and see our main page through the years.



   We’ve been on the internet since 1997… and we’re getting a fair amount of web traffic now. 


  Alexa is a website that deals with internet traffic patterns and statistics…



  They have posted a listing about Rivenrock.com showing web traffic and statistics…



   So, we continue to grow… as the cactus grows stronger on the terraces.

Grade ‘C’ Spineless Cactus Photos

If you’d like to get any Grade ‘C’ spineless cactus, we are still carrying it on our website.

    Every year we have damage from cold which reduces the quality of our spineless cactus leaves. Some years we have frost which can freeze the plants down to within a foot of the ground.  In such a circumstance, regrowth might take three months.   This year we’ve been lucky. The cold did not destroy the crop in any big way…. but the quality has been reduced due to the cold and the two weeks of nearly daily rain we’ve had.  The drops of rain sometimes freeze on the plants, which causes little red spots on the leaf. Some leaves had their top edges frozen… these heal over and seal off the frozen area. A month after a bad freeze the frozen parts have largely fallen away, leaving a misshapen leaf.  Now, truly it is not a ‘good-looking leaf’ like we have so plentifully in summer…. but it is still usable… if not too thick, they can be trimmed, cleaned and chopped to be added to dishes for cooking. They are also great for tortoises at this stage.  The tortoise does not mind misshapen cactus, to them it still tastes great.  
   I think people might like to see this Grade ‘C’ cactus up close… so yesterday I took some photos of the leaves…. I concentrated mostly on the Grade ‘C’ leaves so people could see what they look like.   Now, we still do have some that are Grade ‘B’ worthy…. but I did not take photos of them.  Most people who order the Grade ‘C’ will also get some of the Grade ‘B’ that is coming out.   I just don’t have enough Grade ‘B’ to try to fill those orders as grade ‘B’.

   If for some reason… for instance for tort food, you may wish the leaves to be all older and mature for the higher fiber content, just send me a note when you order.  I can make sure we put the older leaves in your box.  Conversely, if you wish younger, prettier leaves, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to fill your order with the nicer leaves for salads and cooking.

   Here are the photos of the Grade ‘C’ leaves… you can click on any of them to be taken to a larger image to see them close up. 



   If you’d like to get any Grade ‘C’ spineless cactus, we are still carrying it on our website.

  I expect we should have Grade B back on line for sale in one month…. we’ll post an e-mail letter through our mailing list to let people know when we’re selling Grade ‘B’ again.  It will likely be initially offered on a ‘secret page’ for the readers of our e-mail newsletter.   If you join our newsletter, you will be privy to specials, sales and promotions that we offer.



Grade ‘A’ for the gourmet market will be ready in May.

   We will also have three different varieties of cactus for sale starting in the next month… these are varieties that only leaf out for a certain amount of time.  They are interesting and unique in some respects… and although I don’t like them as much as I like our regular spineless Nopalea grande…. some folks prefer them since they remind them of the cactus plants they grew up with in Mexico. So we’ll be posting those on the e-mail newsletter also.

If you’d like to get any Grade ‘C’ spineless cactus, we are still carrying it on our website.

Pinus radiata


These are Monterey Pines in a draw near our home at Rivenrock Gardens.


They are a tree native to California, and although they grow well here, they are not really native to the canyon.


I still like them…. the sound of the wind through these trees is like a locomotive at times.


You can follow the gust of wind as it shakes the trees in turn… a few hundred feet of trees soughing in a long ‘wave’.


The needles trap some of the rain… hours after a rain, the wind can shake loose enough drops that it sounds as if it is raining agan. In this way trees dampen the effect of squalls and downpours.  They add a layer of dry leaves each year.. while the top layer is flammable and dangerous… the layers below have trapped moisture, molding into the soil… being converted into humus… a thick layer of damp peat-like material… the worms coming to the surface, and carrying this forest duff deep into the subsoil… opening the locked lower layers. Decade after decade trees can improve the soil.  There are not a lot of soils that can compare to the fertility of some forested lands.


   In ‘Slash and Burn’ subsistence agriculture by traditional ‘near Stone-Age’ agrarian societies, this soil is utilized… the trees are burned, the ashes further enrich the soil… if the fire was not too intense the soil should retain much nitrogen. Such a soil can be used for a few years and then abandoned when the fertility is waning.  The jungle would quickly take over the open land, and growth would be a tangle of new bushes and trees competing to race for the sun first. It might be another fifty years before the people come back to that spot and cleared it again.  By that time the fertility of the soil would have been replenished, and the people could once more use it.


   Modern agriculture has to rely on using the same soil forever. We can’t even afford to think of the fertility and carrying capacity of the soil in terms of centuries… the need for the soil will always exist… anything that will encourage the slow degradation of the soils cannot be tolerated… keep your soil always in good shape through proper conservation methods.

Green Gardens

Reminder:  Hope for a Green Future this weekend!

Dear Friend,

In the past year or two, you took the time to fill out a lose the lawn questionnaire and send it to us at Middlebrook Gardens. We appreciate your interest in water conservation, labor and chemical reduction and providing a healthy habitat for humans and all the living creatures on Mother Earth. Yes, those are some of  the benefits of going native. And of course, we believe native gardens are the most beautiful!!

You may have heard that Middlebrook Gardens is hosting an event this coming week-end. It’s called “Hope for A Green Future: Restoring your Local Ecology One Garden at a Time.” It’s a fund raiser for The California Native Garden Foundation. Your ticket gets you seven free lectures on native gardening, birding, growing your own food, discounts at the only native plant nursery in San Jose, garden tours and free food and music. There’s even a scavenger hunt and and a cooking contest.

This is a celebration to help you learn more about the natural world you live in. You’ll learn the specifics of making sustainable changes in your own home garden.
I hope you’ll join us. To register please go to this link, www.cngf.org. Doors open at 9 am this Saturday and Sunday.
Will you ba a part of our Hope for a Green Future?
Rain or shine, I hope you’ll join us this week-end.
P.S.  In an effort to conserve resources please bring your own plate, glass and utensils, if possible.

California Native Garden Foundation
76 Race St. San Jose, CA 95126, California 95126 | 408-292-9993


A friend-of-a-friend owns (you know) a studio

We got a message from a  friend….

Hey, to all of you tremendously talented artists who are looking for some place to record your work, music, poetry, etc., I have a friend who just opened a great recording studio for all of your recording needs. And it’s not very expensive at all. If you get a chance to go check it out, tell them that Derek Shaun sent you through, so that they’ll know that you must be top of the top since Derek Shaun is giving you props. ;-) I think that you’re ALL stars, so get on that voice over demo, that song that’s been sittin’ on your shelf, that piece of spoken word that people need to be vibin’ to as they maneuver through this crazy L.A. traffic, and be the star that we all know that you are. If people can’t hear your stuff, how will they know how extremely brilliant you are? Think about it. Some of the BEST artists out there, are those hidden gems that have yet to be discovered. But when they are discovered, the world will sound like a gospel choir singing that same sentiment, ” Where have you been?”  Don’t wait until tomorrow to put into action the dreams that are constantly being put on hold, do it now. Details are below. Peace and God’s continued blessings to all. And I look forward to seeing all of your dreams become beautiful realities.

Derek Shaun


I know you have a lot of contacts in L.A., and thought maybe you could help us out in getting the ball rolling.  I am working with Marc to promote Steel Dawn Studio.  We are working on bringing singers, poets,and actors into the studio to record their music, poetry or voiceover demos.

We charge $50 per hour.The services we provide include:post production sound
film scoring
music production
voice over recording
theatrical sound designYou can check out our demos at www.myspace.com/steeldawnstudio

We are located in Lake Balboa, off of the 405 at Sherman Way.

Please make sure that anyone you refer mentions your name.

If you have any questions, call me.

Steel Dawn Studio


Lacy J Dalton
16th Avenue

from the corners of the country
from the cities and the farms
with years and years of living
tucked up underneath their arms


they walked away from everything
just to see a dream come true
so god bless the boys who make the noise
on 16th avenue

with a million dollar spirit
and an old flattop guitar
they drove to town with all they own
in a hundred dollar car

cause one time someone told them
about a friend of a friend they knew
who owns you know a studio
on 16th avenue

now some were born to money
they’ve never had to say “survive”
and others swing a 9 pound hammer
just to stay alive

there’s Cowboys drunks and Christians
mostly Black and White and blue
they’ve all dialed the phone collect to home
from 16th avenue

ah, but then one night in some empty room
where no curtain’s ever hung
like a miracle some golden words
roll off of someone’s tongue

and after years of being nothing
they’re all looking right at you
and for a while they’ll go in style
on 16th avenue

it looked so uneventful
so quiet and discreet
but a lot of lives were changed
down in that little one way street

cause they walk away from everything
just to see a deam come true
so God bless the boys who make the noise
on 16th avenue

Tasmanian Tiger- Love me when I’m gone

   The last known Thylacine died in captivity in 1936 in a zoo.
Here is some footage of it and a couple others in this video….



  It’s sad to think that was the last of a species.
Just like the Passenger Pigeon, and Dodo Bird… 
several thousand species go extinct every year.


  But was it really the last one?
Could it be a small segment of the population
has been hiding all these decades???

The video below shows footage of a Thylacine-like animal…
but is inconclusive.



And another…


   And a tribute video…
Thylacines-The Phantoms of Tasmania


  But the great island/continent Australia has been a place of harsh beauty, intrigue, and strange creatures. In fact when the first humans entered that place some forty thousand years ago… the place was crawling with fierce creatures that would eagerly make a meal out of anyone they happened upon.  It took tens of centuries for the Indigenous peoples of Australia to continue their forest burning and hunting to make the continent the place it is today… true, many species were driven to extinction by ancient humans, but to them it would seem the logical thing to do… have a fifteen foot ‘Ripper Lizard’ in the area???  Better get all the guys together and kill the thing before it wanders in and eats a few kids.  That’s how ancient humans used to act… destroy the unpredictable animals around you… use them for food if you can… and also destroy fellow predators, they eat the same prey humans do, so reduce them… there’s more food for people.

   Here’s a tribute to the extinct Megafauna (large creatures) of Australia.


   Here’s another tribute to Megafauna…. it comes from Brazil… my Portuguese is no good, but one segment seems to say that approximately 80% of the megafauna extinctions in the last eighty thousand years might be attributable to human intervention during our spread around the globe.

Pearl S. Buck… ‘The Good Earth’

  Here’s the Movie Trailer for the film ‘The Good Earth’, from the book by Pearl S. Buck.
The film was made in 1937 and is pretty well done even by modern standards.
Luise Rainer won an Oscar for her performance as the wife of Wang the Farmer.

   Watching an old film, it’s hard to overlook the differences in film-making now and film-making then… and many of the most glaring differences are in the social changes that have happened in the last fifty years….


   For instance, when this film was made,  the main characters were usually played by Caucasian actors even if they were to be portraying persons of other races. So in this instance also, the main cast were all White actors playing Chinese characters.  I think nowadays it probably seems odd to anyone that this was done… I mean, since the job of film-making is to tell a story, part of that story telling is in the cast and location…. still, the two main actors in this film both gave good performances.

   At any rate, it is a good story… and gives us a bit of a morality tale…. and makes for an intriguing film. And to think it was made seventy two years ago. Wow.





   And now a little video speaking about Pearl S. Buck, and her early years in China where her parents were missionaries. It was her childhood and young adulthood in China which formed the basis of her writing approach to her subjects.  She also helped start a good charity.