Remember my "Confessions" post...?

shear_stupidity(9B)February 12, 2013

True story. Happened today.

My husband and I went to lunch today at a local restaurant. They've recently (within a year) moved locations and had the whole exterior professionally landscaped. They have a cactus that's about 6' tall and it's flowering like gangbusters. It looked like the smooth kind that just has "knobbies" on it, so I grabbed a tiny little "ear" and snapped it off and tossed it into a tupperware container I keep in the car for such 'pinchings.' (Hand to God, I intended to get it home and have it identified on the Name That Plant forum!) I closed the car door, took two steps, and that's when I felt it. Where my hand had brushed my side, I felt an itchy poke on my left index finger. Being outside at noon on a sunny day in Florida, I couldn't see the spine. (Ok, ok... being that I also didn't have my reading glasses on, I couldn't see the spine. Happy?)
So we go inside, get to our seats, and I ever-so-carefully get out my reading glasses while trying not to poke myself by using that finger because it has a cactus spine in it... somewhere. Wait. I'm sorry. Did I say "spine"? SpineS. Plural. The tip of my left pointer finger has what appears to be, without glasses, one small spine in it. With the glasses ON? It's a cluster of about 20. With lots of little friends scattered all around it all the way to my knuckle. And some stragglers spreading to my NEXT knuckle. I try to pull them out, but with acrylic on my nails, I can't get any of them. Not one. I hand my hand to my 22 year old daughter who's eating with us and ask her to start picking. She makes me feel even older by not even straining her eyes and saying, from 4 feet away from my finger, "Wow, Mom. There's lots of them!" She starts pulling them out, turning my hand this way and that so she can see them. Every so often, she says, "Oop. I think I just broke that one. Now it's too short and I can't get it." But I can FEEL those little broken ones. And they're driving me crazy. She finishes with my index finger, I pull it back to me to inspect the short broken ones, and in the process I feel pokes on my middle finger. Sure enough, there are about 20-30 more spines on that finger. Practically microscopic, but painful-slash-itchy nonetheless. My daughter starts on that finger and once it's given the all-clear, I take my hand back and inspect both the index and middle fingers. I find about 5-8 spines we missed. She pulls them... or breaks them... or both. Just for good measure, I check my thumb and ring finger. 30 more spine-removals later, I am FINALLY poke-free. Until I put my hand in my lap. We had been sitting so close together that as she pulled spines out, they were landing on my pants. We had to start all over again... with my wrist. When I got home, I dumped the cactus baby into the trash. Not worth it. True story. Happened TODAY.
Moral of the story? Nope. I'll still 'pinch.' But I did add tweezers and gloves to my Pinching Kit.

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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

That would be why I stay away from just about all cactus! It never fails that if a plant has some type of thorn I will find a way to get poked by it! That is a funny tale though. Even funnier that all it prompted you to do was add a couple new things to your kit!

I usually only go after seed pods when I'm out so I have all kinds of small containers and bags in both my car and purse.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:49AM
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Kara, I've got quite a kit. I have a few cardboard boxes cut down into trays. I have mason jars full of water for cuttings, sandwich bags for seeds, a marker and masking tape to write on the bags or label the jars. I have medium-sized pruners and little nippers. I have a trowel, gardening galoshes, and wet wipes. Oh, and tweezers and gloves.

:) ~Bridget

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Okay - True Confessions Time

This is one I swore I would never tell because it might incriminate my tiny 90yr old Jewish-mama friend, but since I don't live in her neighborhood anymore and it's highly unlikely that any of you would know her- plus, she never swore me to secrecy.....and she has proably forgotten all about our little "episode" . . . .

I'm over at (let's call her Jewel)'s and she's proudly showing me her plants. She loves her cactus - the kind with paddles covered with prickles - and Oh Susie Look! She spies a rosy red fruit of some sort and picks it, then pops it into her mouth. Yum, she says - and like Adam and Eve, she talks me into eating one.

Well, I was lucky that I only took a tentative bite (which was not delicious, so I spit it out when she wasn't looking) because before you could say "Holyamicahbatman" I could feel those invisible mini-pins on the inside of my bottom lip, and they really put the hurtin' on me!

I can't remember exactly what it was Jewel was telling me about the fact that people eat these things all the time, but I do know that I was on my bike pedalling home like the wind - and holding my mouth in such a way to not touch any part to any other part.
I'm sure I looked wild-eyed and frightful to those poor senior citizens I passed on my way home.

So, let this be a lesson to you - along wth Bridget's experience - if you have to touch the cactus to propagate it, wear leather gloves. And put a pair on your lips just in case!


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Alright, more confessions...

I have a neighbor lady. She's very old and her once-beautiful yard has gone downhill. There's no more grass, just weeds. Her grapefruit trees are weeping to the ground with all the un-gleaned fruit from this winter AND last. Her Hibiscus topiary died in 2010 (rough winter) and finally just fell over because no one pulled it out. Her flowerbeds in the front have hardly anything growing in them (besides weeds) because her trees aren't pruned and the flower beds are getting too much shade and NO water. (Remember, I said "hardly anything.")
I have to admit, it took me about a year and a half to realize I hadn't seen her outside for... oh.... about a year and a half. What finally made me notice the poor state of her yard was getting out there and finally working on mine. We had our trees professionally pruned, then wink-wink-nudge-nudged the guy into pruning part of hers. Just a little. Just where her Grapefruit tree was touching our Laurel Oak. I won't lie, I didn't do it to be nice. I did it because... well... if she's not going to take care of HER trees, then why shouldn't MINE get all the space they need?
Then I noticed she had a "lawn service" (and I use the term "service" loosely) to do the mowing and weed-whacking of her lawn. (She still had some lawn in the back yard. HAD some..) They mowed her St. Augustine, which should be mowed at 4 inches, down to about an inch. They totally scalped the lawn. Then they whacked the edges down to a zero. She has a dirt square around her scalped lawn.
When my husband got home from work, I dragged him to the fence to show him her lawn... thereby noticing that her hanging plants on her back patio were dead, she hadn't been harvesting her Papayas, and even her well-established shrubs looked awful. That's when it occurred to me that she's got to be about 90 years old and is probably ill or just too old and unable to do this stuff any more.
Pause the story...
I don't even know her name. She doesn't speak English, not one word. She lives alone, and her son comes to see her once a week. He doesn't speak English. In the past 6-8 months, they've been removing "storage-y" items from her garage. (She's a hoarder... at least in her garage.)
Well, I started thinking how sad that is... that her house will probably be sitting empty soon.
So, to sum up...
My neighbor lady is dying of old age, and I've been stealing one Amaryllis bulb from her front flower bed every week or so for the past 3 months. I've almost got them all.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Hi Shear, we should meet for a drink!

My hubby and I stayed at a condo on St. Armands while house shopping in Sarasota. The front of the building had a large flower bed running along the wall of the condo buildings. Each day we'd pass them on our way to the elevators.

I spied a large catcus growing in back of the beds and it had the most beautiful flowers. This cactus was huge. I kept saying to my husband, when we finally move out, I must take a small piece.

The day came - The cactus was full of these huge, yellow flowers. I leaned over and broke a small piece and put it in my pocket.

Shear, I know what you are talking about! My hand, fingers and palm were full of these thin, almost invisible spines. You could not see the spines on the cactus.

All night I woked on my hand with tweezers, duct tape, soap, soakings, etc. Next day, I took my shorts (still with the piece of cactus) and threw them in the garbage.

Heres a close-up of the flower. My husband took the picture before I got mutilated!


    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:45AM
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I loved these stories! Most of the plants I was growing one time or another, but have gotten rid of them now because the thorns drove me crazy. One of the cactus got huge and was covered in scale, so I thought it was time to let it go. But it did flower so pretty. :o)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:26AM
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Sure, Jane... let's meet for a drink! It's only about a 2 1/2 hour drive! LOL!
After reading your story yesterday, I went outside to my cactus plant "collection." (Really, a "cluster," not a "collection.") I leaned down, put on my reading glasses, and checked them for teeny tiny spines. I discovered that two of them DO have those spines. I just got them about 3 weeks ago, so I hadn't noticed yet. Also, my Coral Cactuses look suspicious on the top wavy edges. I think I'll carefully put them in their "forever" pots and push them back behind other more skin-friendly plants and leave them there.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:39AM
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The first time I "plucked" this type of catcus, the same happened to me...took HOURS to get all them little pricklies out!! The thought to myself was.."That's whatcha get for stealing!" LOL.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 1:17PM
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coffeemom(Broward z10)

Correction: you are not stealing, you are rescuing the Amaryliss bulbs. I think she would be ok with that.
My family is under strict orders to call the "garden hoes" to clean out my yard upon my demise.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 2:34PM
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"Garden Hoes"! Priceless. Love it!

My youngest daughter used to say, when she was about 14, "Mom, when I get old I want to be known on my street as "The Crazy Cat Lady."
She is now 22 years old. She came over yesterday to visit and watched me re-pot some plants, plant others, etc...
She pops out with, "Mom. Remember how I said I wanted to be The Crazy Cat Lady? Well, I don't any more. Not now that I see what a Crazy Plant Lady looks like.


I took it as a compliment.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Oh, and I agree about rescuing them. She probably wouldn't mind. And I'd ask if I could.

Also wanted to add that, instead of calling the "Hoes" upon my demise, I have made a book with all the plant information one could possibly need. All four of our daughters (who are now aged 18-24) are under orders to choose at least three each. In this way, I hope they learn to love gardening as much as I do. Yes, I know they'll end up on GW begging for care information for plants they inherited from their dead mother.

Confession: I don't care. Whatever it takes. Gardening IS good for the soul. I truly believe that. I'm not above using guilt to my advantage, even in my death.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Here is my plant info book.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:02PM
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A page example:

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:07PM
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ha, I learned about stealing the hard way too... one evening at dusk I was out jogging and I thought I would help myself to a cactus pad hanging over someone's fence. I tucked it in the front (mesh) pocket of my reflective vest... another quarter mile jogging and the itching and stinging started.... when I got home I had to try to pull all the hairlike spines out of my cleavage... :)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:21AM
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Oh my gosh! How in the heck did you find/see them all???

That's funny though !

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Jane, we fl. natives call that a prickly pear cactus. It grows wild in sandy areas of Fl. I would never touch one but the bloom is beautiful!!!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 11:57AM
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