Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

1951 San Antonio

1951, war broke out in Korea… as usual the US was unprepared for the war…. the military had been largely reduced in scale after WWII…. so in the usual way of the US gov’t, they opened enlistment offices and gathered the man y thousands of young men who were volunteering to go to war in a faraway place. My father at 17 was one of those young guys… he had to get his mother’s signature for him to go into the military.

   Since the military was not really ready for them, the training center in San Antonio was overflowing and unable to adequately house the extra thousands of men. So the military opened up a large tent-city on the Parade Grounds, and housed many thousands of men in the long rows of tents. But, it was wintertime, and their clothes stayed damp and moldy, they never had adequate rest and were weakened and more susceptible to illness…. and strike it did… influenza hit the camp and several servicemen died. When a local dignitary heard of this he got Washington to acting quickly.. hastily, barracks in other military posts were opened up… and thousands of servicemen were bussed to other areas to be housed in actual barracks.

   Remember, this was 1951, and Jim Crow was still in force in many of the Southern states. The US military had been integrated just a few years before, but the nation as a whole was still trying to get used to desegregation.  My father grew up on  a small farm with other small farms surrounding it. They all belonged to the local farmers co-op which bought the large equipment all the farms needed, but none could afford. As a group all the local farmers worked helping to plant and harvest on each other’s farms. Some of the local farms were owned by Black folks. They participated in the co-op and the harvests the same as everyone else. Being used to working in the fields with black folks, it wasn’t hard to bunk in the same tent with some also… so he and some other White guys bunked with some Black fellows in  a large tent.

   Back to the bus trip… the bus left San Antonio and travelled north to another base where barracks were promised to them. On the trip they made several stops for food. The bus would stop at a restaurant and they were all given coupons for a meal…. but the restaurants would not allow Black servicemen in (wow…. it’s hard to believe nowadays, but even a serving serviceman was discriminated against if he was Black)…. so my father and one of his White buddies would get a few extra meals using the coupons given them by the Black guys, and he and this other fellow would take the meals outside and they would all eat outdoors (which is what they did when working in the fields).

   I was working on a film called ‘Forgive us our Transgressions’  one time… it was a challenging scene as it involved a lynching, and I played a lyncher…. while mulling these things over with the boom operator ‘Speed’, he turned to me and said “we’ve come a mighty long ways in this country”.  As much racial issues as we still have…. I have to agree.


   The local tarantulas come out of their burrows every fall….
   There are a couple of roads known for waves of tarantulas roaming across and down the road… one local surf-spot is called ‘Tarantula Point’ due to the number of spiders seen there.
We know they are males in search of a  mate. They time their searches with the coming of rain, so that the eggs have the proper humidity levels.
   I’ve held many tarantulas through the years…. some of them will walk from hand to hand, and can be shown to other people to show them they really have nothing to fear from these VERY interesting little creatures. Tarantulas do you no harm, there is no need to fear or to kill them.  Only once have I been bitten by one.. and it was a hurt spider that had one leg stuck forever pointing at the sky…. our cats found it and were using the stuck leg as a handle with which to pick the spider up and run with him until he grabbed at them and scared them enough that they’d drop him… then they’d run back and pick him up again and toss him. I took him from the cats to rescue him…. he sat on my hand… that one leg pointing at the sky… his big fangs came out (they are surprisingly large and a shocking violet hue)…. his fangs gently stroked backwards along my skin three times, then he rared his head back, and brought down his head driving the fangs into my skin…. the entire time I was transfixed watching his actions… and when the fangs began their journey into my skin I shook him off… I suffered no injury other than two pinholes which each exuded one drop of blood apiece, like a miniature vampire bite.

  Don’t fear tarantulas.


Facial-comparison software

I came upon an interesting facial-recognition site

It will scan your photo you send it using bio-metrics. It will then compare your facial features to it’s database of over 3,500 well known people to isolate people with the similar features. I found it to be a very interesting exercise in evaluation of features.

 John most resembled:

Edward Elgar English Composer
It says I have a 68% resemblance to him.

 Bobby Charlton the British Soccer hero
software credits me with a 65% resemblance.


Maxim Gorky the Soviet Writer (Pinko) accused of a 60% resemblance.

Vickie most closely resembled:


Jacqueline Bisset British stunning actress/model
It says she has a 65% resemblance to her.


Sonia Gandhi Italian-Indian politician. 
Married to a Head-of-State 54% resemblance.


 Brigitte Bardot Super-Hot French actress/model ‘you know those Frenchies’ 52% resemblance.
(A younger-look pic would have been nice, but I’m usin’ what they gave us)

 Now, the observing person might well notice something about this, namely that Vickie’s photo was picked out to match some of the Major-League ‘Hot Babes’ of all time. While John is said to more closely resemble…well… Well, let’s just say….John is no Brad Pitt.

Hot Cars

I was going down 101 and saw a bunch of Hot-Rod and antique cars parked on the side of the road resting. I just had to stop because it was too good an opportunity to see these machines close up. They were headed to a car show, and happily I knew a couple of the fellows in the group.. so they let me take photos and publish them.


Mad Hatter Tea Party


We got sent the e-mail below from our friends and neighbors Al and Val Johnson
their band will be playing at the party described below.
They are really good folks, and a great band.
Doubtless it will be a fun party…





1531 Monterey
San Luis Obispo California 93401
805 547-0278 [
Price: $10 donation, includes “tea” bev
Mad Hatter Tea Party




Central Coast artist Mark Bryan wants to take you down the rabbit hole one more time. Mark Bryan is internationally known for his clever and cutting commentary on the current political landscape.

One week before national elections are held, Bryan and local progressive groups will host a Mad Tea Party Night at the Steynberg Gallery.On the evening of October 27th all citizens are invited to participate in a night of playful political hi jinx, wear their best Mad Hatter Hat and view Bryan’s new work “The Mad Tea Party, Part D’uh”. Local blues legends Valerie Johnson, Al B. Blue and the Mad Hatters will be on hand to lay down some Tea Party blues.

In Bryan’s new parody of Alice’s famous party, Sarah Palin stars as the Queen of Hearts, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck appear as Mad Hatters. O’Reilly and Hannity are having fun as The Walrus and the Carpenter while Tea Party activists depicted as oysters clamor for more “Tea” but are about to be served as “lunch”. Bryan will also be exhibiting his first Mad Tea Party piece and other political works.

The Mad Hatter Tea Party Night is part promotion for Bryan’s artistry, part fundraiser for progressive causes and 100% good time for those wanting a more humorous side of political antics. A contest will be held for the best “Mad Hat”, games, prizes and a raffle drawing for a Giclee print of “The Mad Tea Party, Part D’uh!”, valued at $250.00

Entry is a $10 donation, includes “tea” beverage, cake and other snacks.

For more information, please call Steynberg Gallery 805 547 0278 or email mbryan@kcbx.net

Hello Country Bumpkin

From late September:

The local deer are forming a temporary family. The male is after the female, but in a bit of an uncommon twist, he is allowing the little fawn to accompany him. These local male deer are usually loners, and I’ve never seen a fawn follow a buck day after day.  Someone who didn’t know these deer as much might consider them a family… and yes, I suppose they are.. but the male is usually further up in the hills, further from people, and safer.  It’s deer season here, people are roaming these hills looking for him and his ilk.  He’s safe here… but there’s a ring of fire around this place…. a little refuge oasis for deer and quail.



Conversations with the Devil

Conversations with the Devil

~Ray Wylie Hubbard~


I had a dream last night I was cast into Hell by a jealous God
The Devil walked up and said “You don’t need no lightning rod.
It hardly ever rains down here, I can’t recall the last storm.
You aint gonna need that leather jacket, it gets kinda warm.
There’s one way in, there’s no way out, looks like you’re to stay.
The place is a mess, it’s overcrowded, more are coming in everyday”

I said, “ah man, wait a minute there’s gotta be something wrong,
I aint a bad guy, I just write these little songs.
I always pay my union dues, I don’t stay in the passing lane.”
And he said, “what about all that whiskey and cocaine?”
I said, “Well yeah, but that’s no reason to throw me in Hell,
Cause I didn’t use the cocaine to get high, I just liked the way it smelled.”


He said “Come on over here son, let me show you around,
Over there’s where we put the preachers, I never liked those clowns.
They’re always blaming me for everything wrong under the sun;
It aint hard to do what’s right… it’s just maybe not as much fun.
Then they walk around thinking they’re better than me and you,
Then they get caught in a motel room, doing what they said not to do.


Now the murderers and the rapists they go in this fiery lake,
As well as most of the politicians and the cops on the take.
And all the mothers that wait to get to K-Mart to spank their kids,
Instead of showing them to do what’s right, they just hit ’em for what they did.
And all the daddies who run off and abandon their daughters and sons,
Oh, anybody that hurts a child is gonna burn until it’s done.”


“If everybody is down here” I said “who’s up in Heaven with God and the Son?”
“Oh some saints and mystics and students of metaphysics 101,
People who care and share and love and try to do what’s right,
Beautiful old souls who read little stories to their babies at night.
What you won’t find up in Heaven are Christian Coalition Right Wing Conservatives,
Country program directors and Nashville record executives.”


Now I said “I’ve made some mistakes, but I’m not as bad as those guys,
How can God do this to me or can’t he sympathize?”
He said “You’re wrong about God being cruel and mean,
Oh God is the most loving thing that’s ever been seen.”
I said “Hotshot tell me this; which religion is the truest?”
He said “They’re all about the same, Budha was not a Christian,
but Jesus woulda made a good budhist.”


Well I thought about my future, I didn’t seem to have much of one,
I looked around to leave but there was no place to run.
I said “I don’t suppose I could go back and try living again?
You know, like reincarnation. I hear that’s the way it’s always been.”
“I can’t answer that”, he said “You’re gonna have to wait for that response,
But it’s not any more unusual to be born twice than it is to be born once.


Well it looked like I was gonna be stuck here as far as I could tell,
I thought I might as well suck-up, you know, ‘what the hell’.
I said “You know that song that Charlie Daniels did?
About how you went down to Georgia and played fiddle against that kid?”
He said “Yeah it broke my heart, but you know, what’cha gonna do?”
I said “To tell you the truth, I thought your solo was the better of the two.”


Well then I woke up and I was lying in my bed,
I went upstairs and kissed my little boy on his sleeping head.
I took this dream as a sign from God so I thought I’d better pray,
I said don’t ever speak to me directly and thanks anyway.
Now so much has changed about me besides me just giving up red meat,
Some get spiritual cause they see the light, and some cause they feel the heat.



Laetitia News

Hello Nipomo Neighbors,

1. This is an update to let you know that Mike Zimmerman, candidate for the 4th District Supervisor, will be meeting with the NiHA Steering Committee this Thursday (Oct 14) at 12:00 for lunch at the Mayor’s Place on Tefft. We will be discussing Mike’s position on the proposed Laetitia development and their subsequent plans for water usage. You are invited to join us if you like. We will be posting the results of this meeting, just as we did for our meeting with Paul Teixeira.

2. Just to clarify…NiHA does not intend to endorse any particular candidate for Supervisor. We only intend to inform our members of each candidate’s position on the Laetitia issue.

3. For those of you that donated to our cause…Thank you! Please know that your money has been used for only one purpose . . . to hire an attorney to represent us in our battle with Laetitia. Peter Candy of Santa Barbara was hired for this reason and we now have enough funds to carry us through to the point when the Planning Commission meets to make a ruling on the Laetitia development.

4. The SLO Times recently published an article on the lack of well water in Paso Robles…a similar situation to ours. Please read this<http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2010/10/07/1320187/water-basin-hastoomany-hands-in.html> to learn more about how there can only be trouble ahead when more water is coming out of the ground than is going in.

Your NiHA Steering Committee,

Nipomo Hills Alliance

Green grass is heaven

Green grass is heaven

First tarantula of the season

Local lore says these guys forecast the first of our autumn/winter rains.
   We get no rain to speak of from May to October most years….
  Tarantulas have a breeding cycle that co-incides with the coming rains. Maybe they need wet humid conditions for their eggs… maybe the rains stimulate some food source the young will need… I don’t know why, but yearly we can predict the first rains by these guys. When we start to see them, rain is no more than two weeks away.
  BTW, it is the males that roam seeking a cute girl spider…. the girls are holed up in their burrows ready to breed with the right fella, and lay their eggs in their deep silk-lined burrow.
  We also tell the amount of seasonal rains by the height above the creek-banks the females put their nests…. but those nests are hard to find…. they are camouflaged to reduce predation on the young spider-lings inside. I saw this fellow on the 27th of September…. we got rain on the 29th.  that was our first rain since probably April… so he was spot-on. And on 27 Sep we had super-high temps, totally dry weather, no clouds… nothing on the weather about rain. 

A tarantula heads through the fence...

A tarantula heads through the fence...A tarantula is prediting rainA tarantula walking though the hay



Savor the Central Coast

  We went to the Savor the Central Coast Event today. It was awesome… almost 200 vineyards and tasting rooms, many restaurants and farms, all showing their wares, and passing out great samples.  The displays of the local area’s wealth of foods and drinks was stunning, and I kept being reminded how special the foods in this area are. We have a wide variety of micro-climates that can allow almost any vegetable or fruit to be grown.

   I will compile the photos I have and place them into blog posts later… but for now I wanted to put up some pics so you can see what’s happening this weekend on the Central Coast.