Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

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Portland Food Blog

   I really do like to eat…. all kinds of foods.   I like to look at photos of food, and I like to read about food.

   Food is cool, food is fun. But don’t play with your food….

   I found a fun Food Blog at Portland Food Blog.

Check it out.

Do we ‘De-Thorn’ our Cactus Before Shipping?

   We  had a customer ask if we de-thorn the cactus leaves before shipping….

   Here’s what I wrote back…..



   We don’t do any cleaning on them. They have a waxy coating on them naturally, to keep moisture in. The stomata (little holes for transpiration) on most plants open during the daytime to allow the photosynthesis process to run and exchange gases…. but cactus keeps those pores closed in the daytime so that it doesn’t lose moisture, it opens them in the evening and exchanges its gasses while it is cool and relatively moister outside. Each night it pulls in carbon dioxide, and stores it in special cells.  It will also release its oxygen that it stored up during the day while it was in the process of converting the carbon to oxygen through the chlorophyll in the leaves. It’s a pretty slick way to work around the local temperature extremes and water shortages. But it also helps us in shipping. We try to do most of our picking early in the day. This is when we reckon the leaves have less free oxygen in them.  The high presence of oxygen will oxidize the leaves sooner. When we pick and ship the leaves, they already have their stomata closed. They will open in the box, and warm moist air will envelope the leaves. They store pretty well in those conditions, so shipping is not too bad on them as long as they don’t get crushed.



   It is for a similar reason that we don’t scrub them down to de-thorn them. We don’t want to open the leaves to any pathogens. We want the leaves to get to you as nice as possible as the grade, maturity and shipping routine we use can allow.  We really want people to be stoked and excited at how good they are!




   But this brings up the other issue.. spines… in which our leaves are very admirably not really equipped with. In fact, you can handle these with plastic dishwashing gloves…. and all they need is a scrubbing down with a kitchen pad…. then a trim around the thin edges, and a rinse and pat-dry. So you might find yourself taking a minute per leaf once you have it down… that might take three leaves to get the routine…. it’s pretty easy, no more prep time than a bell pepper really or a cucumber








   You’ll notice that the leaf is pretty easy to handle… that is due to the refined variety we grow and sell.  The spiny ones are really tough to learn to clean, ours is very much better and easy to prepare.  





  Read this article to find out what happened what the Associated Press bought some and didn’t clean them! http://www.rivenrock.com/aparticlemar2004.htm




   We have other articles that talk of us at  http://www.rivenrock.com/presskit.htm




   Yes, the cleaning of them is not tough at all… and I should stress that a bit more in the literature.

Panarama Vision

   We got a new camera with greater functionality.


   Here’s my first photo using the  ’panarama’ feature.

Rivenrock 'wet arroyo'

Rivenrock 'wet arroyo'

There’s about 100 degrees of sweep in this image.

It’s a pretty cool feature.
Much more precise than the old way I used to use
with my 35 mm Canon AE-1

This is the little arroyo to the East side of our house
There’s a bit of wetness in the earth.
This area is never watered.

And even now in late June it is green.

And cool


Final Curtain Call-Three marvels gone

   I suppose it is in the way of some people that the mark they leave on the world will be massive. So often these are literary, political or religious figures… but entertainers also hold a dear place in the hearts of the people.


   It is with sadness and shock that we witness the death of three such landmarks on the social and entertainment scene. Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahan, and Michael Jackson.


   Farrah of course was known for her beauty, Ed for being a great guy and ‘sidekick’,  and Michael for his extraordinary talents as a songwriter/performer.  He lived locally for many years, and I used to know some of his family years ago. We’ve had many acquaintances who worked for him, and I secretly hoped for years that he would hire me to grow organic foods for his animals when he still lived on ‘Neverland’.


   Like so many people of such huge public stature, he was a study in extremes.  I suppose the mind that allowed him to envision the lyrics, music and dance moves he was so masterful at, also caused his mind to move in the directions of `socially odd/unacceptable’ behavior, with which he was also known.


   When I think of Micheal Jackson.. for some reason washing the floor at the restaurant I worked at as a kid comes to mind. I worked at that restaurant with his cousin, and we would throw hot soapy water onto the greasy tiles of the kitchen floor and scrub them with long handled scrub brushes. But before we lifted the grease with the brushes, we would take a running start and see how far we could slide on the greasy soapy floor on our feet. The reason I think of this is because we usually had music from the `Jackson Five’ playing late at night when we did this clean-up.  And we’d play `Rock the Boat’ when we did the `tile surfing’.


   I saw a television report today on his death. And one thing that struck me was a Black woman who said that he was great because before he came along, MTV would not play ‘Black Music’. I disagree….. Michael Jackson did not play ‘Black Music’, he was a Black musician for sure. But his music encompassed many styles, and to me is more a style of Rock Music, and appreciated by all peoples.  I recall the Michael Jackson/MTV controversy in the early eighties…. when MTV which was ‘pretty much’ a Rock program, was accused of not allowing any Black performers on except for Michael Jackson and Tina Turner…. who to me are ROCK, not ‘Black Music’.  MTV was set up for Rock people, not Soul, Hip Hop, Country, World, Celtic or any other style. But MTV didn’t want to seem racist, so in order to add more ‘persons of color’, they started adding Hip Hop. And I stopped watching.  I just don’t like the negativity and language in so much Hip Hop.


   Both Michael, Ed and Farrah touched many people in a great many ways. I pray for them all, and for their grieving families.


~From The Thirteenth Warrior~
(embedding disabled)


Are you wearing that long face for me?



I cannot help it


I have only these hands, I will die a pauper


You will be buried as a King


A man might be thought wealthy if someone were to draw the story of his deeds,
that they may be remembered


Such a man might be thought wealthy indeed.





Remember, we don’t take anything with us when we leave….

Except every action and thought we made in this world.

All packed into a little hard drive we call a soul

And The Creator has the software to examine all contents of the drive


Two Minutes… Us vs Them

We’re an amazing species….

Highs and lows


Amazing and seemingly unique at either extreme


If you’ve not read George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, or ’1984′, do.
They are both amazing insights into humanity.


People are in general fairly easy to lead and manipulate on a social scale,
there’s the baton and the pizza
We’ve tended to go for the pizza approach in the USA.
Keep yer nose clean, work enough…
and you’ll probably always be able to have beer and pizza
while watching Monday Night Football.


It’s when either approach goes too far that problems occur.
When the government starts to give the pizza out….
you can expect that batons will be seen before too long.
Better to stay to the middle road.


From the film ’1984′
by John Hurt and Richard Burton
‘Two minutes hate’




This is our land

a land of peace and of plenty

a land of harmony and of hope

this is our land


these are our people,
the workers,
the strivers,
the builders,
these are our people,
the builders of our world,

on the streets of our cities,
and on the far-flung battlefields

fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams





‘Us and Them’
~Pink Floyd~


Us, and them
And after all, we’re only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows its knows,
it’s not what we would choose to do.

“Forward” he cried from the rear
And the front rank died.
The general sat and the lines on the map
Moved from side to side.

Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end its only round and round.

“Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words”
The poster bearer cried.
“Listen son”, said the man with the gun
“There’s room for you inside.”





Chapter 58

When a government is unobtrusive and tolerant
the people will be happy and prosperous;


when a government is suspicious and strict
the people are dissatisfied and crafty.


Good fortune is linked to calamity;
misery is tied to happiness.


So who can tell when the end of this will come?
Is there no measuring-stick for the norm?


What is seen now as right and true;
will certainly someday be seen as wrong and false.


The people have labored under this sea of vexations for a long time.


Therefore the Master is square
without sharp cutting corners.
His straightness is not strained;
he is pointed without being piercing.
And he is bright but not blinding.


Yahoo Questions… Best and Worst

   There’s a fair number and variety of people in the world.


   Some ain’t too bright.


  And some others are smart, but play around.


   Online, it can be hard to tell who is playing silly for the afternoon, and who is just plain bonkers all the time.


   Yahoo has a Question-Submission site so folks can post their questions, and have readers in the ether sphere answer them.  They posted a page of  ‘The worst and the Saddest Questions’…. and yes, if they were not just playing around and joking…. some of those folks really need to wake up and get counseling.


    There were many I enjoyed reading….but one of my favorites is the person in the US state of Georgia who heard that Russia was invading Georgia… but this person seems to be one of the few Georgians who does not realize there is a Republic called Georgia just to the South of Mother Russia…. here’s what this Red-Clay gal said….


“I live in georigia (sic), but i don’t see russia no where not even sound but they say theres tanks should i be worrie


i heard on the news that rusia had invaded but i don’t see them no where whats goin on”


   Yeah, I hope Jessica B is

 actually a student in some (US) Georgian University, and that her letter was just funnin’ around.

Hand in Pocket

   In some electronics work, the workers are told to keep one hand in their pocket, that way they cannot accidentally grab another wire and complete a circuit electrocuting themselves.


   I’m in an Alanis Morissette mood lately. The timbre and whining qualities of her voice appeal to me on occasion. But the deep philosophies in her lyrics are what really strike me.


   Life just goes on, and you gather a little more information day after day. As info accumulates and you have a larger and clearer picture of the whole deal, you can start to see where there is waste, and you can eliminate the waste from your life. 


   Year by year, you should know more and more, and have less and less wasted action and waste of life.  In the end, it is life alone that matters, and nothing else counts…. then you are at the threshold, and ready to step across.




Tao teh Ching
Chapter 48


Common learning consists in adding something new each day,
In pursuit of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Day after day something else is lost,
until one reaches the point where one is able to do much by doing nothing.
Less and less you know and desire,
until you reach the state of non-action.
By not striving to control the world, it offers itself to you.
You cannot master the world by trying to enforce change on it.





From the Halls of Montezuma

   I got an e-mail from a WWII vet I know…

  He sent a link to a video documenting the return to the US of nineteen Marines who were killed on a small island in the Pacific. As the Marines were run off the island, they had no way to carry their dead with them, and they were unable to bury them. They asked the local villagers to please bury their dead….


   Decades later, one of the men who helped bury those Marines as a youngster disclosed the secret location of the bodies.  An expedition was arranged, and the bodies disinterred from the volcanic soil.  As the recovery people opened the graves, they found that each Marine had been given a warrior’s burial… their steel pots were placed onto their heads, their M-1 carbines held in their hands, and their dog-tags around their necks…. so very touching that these people would give such a dignified and honorable burial to relative strangers in the midst of the flak that was surely occurring around them.



   An old acquaintance of mine was a child on a Pacific Island when the Japanese invaded. The Imperial soldiers forced all families out onto the streets,  then they pulled each father out, and all the sons who were teenagers… forcing them to kneel on the street, whereupon they systematically shot each one killing them before their shrieking families.


     I am from a family of war…. it seems all through our history are instances of death and destitution…….. but I suppose that’s not too different than so many others.  It’s just that with such a great family history of this, and knowing so many who went through the same things…. I find it hard to accept that we can sweet talk everyone into playing nice.  But God, I wish that could happen.


Happy Father’s Day


Semper Fidelis


There comes a time….

    Iran has long held a particular interest for me. While in the Army and afterwards I had plenty of associates who had been stationed in Iran at one time…. also, my own unit was put on alert and readied to be deployed to Iran during the Iranian Islamic Revolution.


   I’ve not met anyone who’d been stationed there who bemoaned their time there.  They all seemed to have appreciated Iran and the people of Iran a quite a bit.


    Now, in this time of potential change…. we pass on to the Iranian people our hopes for a successful revolution once again, this time toward freedom and democracy…. and away from oppression and tyranny.



~Rage Against the Machine~


Paintings of rebellion
Drawn up by the thoughts I think

Come on!
The militant poet in once again, check it

It’s set up like a deck of cards
They’re sending us to early graves
For all the diamonds
They’ll use a pair of clubs to beat the spades
With poetry I paint the pictures that hit
More like the murals that fit
Don’t turn away
Get in front of it

Brotha, did ya forget ya name?
Did ya lose it on the wall
Playin’ tic-tac-toe?

Yo, check the diagonal
Three brothers gone
Come on
Doesn’t that make it three in a row?

Anger is a gift

Brotha, did ya forget ya name?
Did ya lose it on the wall
Playin’ tic-tac-toe?

Yo, check the diagonal
Three million gone
Come on
‘Cause you know they’re counting backwards to zero

The environment exceeding on the level
Of our unconsciousness
For example
What does the billboard say?
Come and play!, come and play!
Forget about the movement

Anger is a gift




   Yes, there are times that anger is needed… not the ‘three minutes of hate’ of 1984…. but rational anger, strictly controlled… dignified… and used only for the sake of righteousness.  That is what leads to freedom… but sadly, so many have to die to attain that.


   In general the good people will not rise to the levels needed to attain freedom, but there comes  a time…..

   Freedom has never been free… someone always pays for your freedoms whether you realize it or not.

The Nipomo Mesa

Nipomo Mesa


   Mesa means table in Spanish. Mesa is often used to denote a certain topographical feature, it is any flat land formation which is thrust up high over the surrounding areas…. much like a table in the dining room.


   Most of the population of our town of Nipomo lives on the mesa in Nipomo. Our mesa is some few miles across, and is composed of a huge mass of sand.  In fact, Nipomo is so known for it’s sandy soil, that locals automatically think everyone gardens in sand in Nipomo.


    The Nipomo Mesa is sparsly populated… many of the home lots there are a few acres in size.  The spread of facilities and shopping areas are somewhat haphazard…. here and there you will find a store, restaurant or filling station along the side of the road, surrounded by home lots with horses in the yard.  Over the entire area hang the fragrant (?, some folks liken the smell to feline urine) leaves of eucalyptus trees. In the early 1900′s, a tree planting company sold many many thousands of eucalyptus seedlings to the people in this area. The idea was that the locals could grow these trees which flourish in the local environment, and then they would be able to make a ton of money by selling the wood for building fine furniture.  The local lore has it that they used the wrong species of eucalyptus, and the wood is prone to splitting and has bends in the grain making it unsuitable for most building uses. So now we are left with huge forests of euc trees… covering the entire area for miles…. hanging low over the homes, dropping their dry, oily and extremely flammable leaves and shedding bark like a wolfhound sheds fur in summer. 


   When I was a teenager, it was fun to drive aimlessly along the sandy roads on the mesa…. when in the midst’s of the eucalyptus forests the hundred foot trees block all views of the horizon, and even make it a bit difficult to see where the sun is to keep your bearings.  But now, due to the growth in population in the area, we have had many of the trees cut down.  They are just too dangerous to have near homes. When the occasional fire goes through here, the eucs are like huge candles, putting out many BTU’s of heat, nearly exploding when the heat hits them, and throwing up firebrands that the ‘wind-created-fire’ will carry for another mile or two, to settle warmly into a soft warm and oily bed of resinous eucalyptus duff… ready to spring into life as a  new fire.