Saturday, August 12, 2017

Duck and Cover - DTJ



I was in my senior year of high school when Russia parked missiles in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis also known as the Crisis de Octobre or just the Missile Scare was 13 days in October of 1962, the 16th through the 28th. Thirteen months later the President who stared down the Russians would be dead in Dallas. Shot by a man connected with Russia. My first conspiracy theory was that Russia was responsible because of those missiles President Kennedy made them take out of Cuba.

The building of a personal bomb shelter was a big conversation topic on Bellamah Street in Albuquerque in 1962 and 1963. The city nobody could spell was on the top ten hit list for missiles from Russia. We had two Air Force Bases and a mountain in the Manzano mountains to the immediate east which was hallowed out to stockpile our nuclear arsenal. And air raid sirens were tested every day. Duck and Cover made a return into my life.

I was in the second grade in Roswell, NM going to a Walker Air Force base school when I first remember being schooled in Duck and Cover. And being marched out of our building to a designated bomb shelter. My US Air Force pilot father talked me out of my tears of fear by informing me it didn't work. There was no way to survive a nuclear war. So I should just humor the adults who thought there was by dutifully hiding under my desk or marching in a row through the fall out to a basement with an atomic energy symbol on the door.
In the days following 9/11 a young adult friend of mine asked me why I was not afraid. I replied rather glibly, "Nothing new. I grew up afraid. I am one of the duck and cover generation." I don't remember fire drills in school but air raid drills. 

There has been a lot of talk about that long ago Missile Crisis since Trump has begun his verbal war with Korea. It has brought up a lot of memories about those long ago days in October. One of the biggest is Mom and Dad taking us on a camping trip to the mountains. No internet in those days. And actually no radio either. Not in the mountains. But Dad tried to get reception to keep up with what was going on. The static made it impossible. Without being told I fell in with the adult plan of enjoying the fishing and not being afraid of a red dawn. I was the oldest.

Until the day came to drive back home. If home was there. I tried not to notice Dad not turning up the volume on the car radio. "Maybe we should stay here," I said aloud as we drove into the tiny village of Canjilon, New Mexico. It was another ten miles before the radio would pick up an Albuquerque station and the local weather.

Home was still there. But to this day in times of no win situations I think of Canjilon and the beaver lakes where we fished for five days in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I am glad I have returned to the mountains to live. We are not on anyone's top ten list. That is good.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Pruning the Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns Before

I am a lover of Euphorbias. They are from the deserts of Southern Africa and Madagascar. They have evolved physical characteristics and forms similar to cacti of North and South America and are often incorrectly referred to as cacti. My big Crown of Thorns was one of my first of a growing collection of these succulents from the spurge family of Euphorbiaceae. I picked it up as a 6 inch plant in a New Iberia nursery when my sister and I were touring the northern gulf coast. I believe that was 15 years ago.

I made an attempt at limiting its height a few years back to allow it to devote more energy to the new branches and make it a denser plant. That failed. And the height of the plant continued to challenge the window space and soon the long branches were leaning over and leaning against the window.

I googled and found the proper way to prune this treasured plant. Still it was very difficult to cut off the four longer branches. Even with a plan.

The five pots with "new" plants

 I am not sure why I was afraid of this step because I have propagated other Euphorbia in my collection. Maybe it was that I failed once when I cut off the tall center branch. But I was essentially at that time trying to root pieces of the leafless trunk. That, according to one article I read, doesn't work. In this case I am focusing my efforts on the tops of the four branches I cut off. And the little sprouts which the parent plant puts out to spread itself. Three of those are in the second from the right pot.

All the pots are filled with sand and once moistened I am suppose to refrain from watering. This plant is from a desert area of the world. 

The pruned mother plant

With the larger branches gone the multiple little beginnings of branches should have more resources to grow and I will get a denser and healthier plant. In a week or two I want to lift the plant up (with leather gloves) and put more cactus potting soil below it in the pot. Repotting isn't necessary at this point the articles I read said.

I think I was willing to risk this radical step because I have recently visited a home where a Crown of Thorns was clearly dying because it had not been pruned. I own two other Crown of Thorns. And I now have the possibility of five new plants. If it works I will be looking for homes. Meanwhile positive thoughts for the mother plant.