On Being Mindless

Just before we left for Thanksgiving Week in our Little House in the Desert, we received an email from our homeowner’s association, a landscaping tip.  It read:

The white creamy substance on your prickly pear will eventually kill it.  To get rid of It you need to do two things:

              1.  wash with a mixture of Dawn dish soap and water
              2. spray with Malathion

You can also spread systemic bug killer around the base and wash in well for the plant to draw up through the roots.

Just in case you’re not a desert person, this is what the creamy white substance looks like on a prickly pear cactus.

Mealy Bug Infestation on a Prickly Pear Cactus
courtesy http://www.thecactusdoctor.com

A  little internet search revealed that the culprits behind the creamy white substance are mealy bugs, the leading killer of cacti.

The eradication procedure sounds easy enough but there were two obstacles: the Arizona sun had destroyed the water connection to my hose reel;  and there wasn’t a drop of Malathion in the house.  Most places, a hardware store is around the corner but we live in MFN* Arizona, where the nearest Home Depot is forty minutes away.   Now, the hose reel leader is a peculiar little hose with a female coupling at both ends.   Kinky.  Home Depot had no such hose, only one with a female on one end and a male on the other, so along with the hose leader and Malathion, I bought a female coupling to replace the male end.   Two hours later, I was in the garage, ready to save my prickly pear.   I carefully cut off one end of the hose leader I’d purchased, put on the female coupling, then tried to connect it to the hose reel and faucet.  Uh-uh.  It still had a male coupling on one end and a female on the other … I’d cut off the female and replaced it with the new one.   Two hours down the tubes, not to mention feeling so incredibly stupid that I wanted to just beat the prickly pear to death with a shovel.

I may be mindless but I’m creatively so … I was able to salvage the old hose leader using the new female coupling.  My prickly pear has been thoroughly scrubbed with Dawn dish washing detergent and sprayed with Malathion. It’s shiny and safe.   If you lean close … being careful not to prick your ear on a thorn … you can hear mealy bugs screaming.  The final indignity is that as I was spraying the prickly pear, I backed into our Mexican Fence Post Cactus and got speared in the back.   Such is life in The Living Desert**.

Next time I go on and on about mindfulness, dear readers, you are entitled to say, Remember the hose incident, Bud? Have a nice weekend.

* Middle of Freakin’ Nowhere

** My March 2011 post, The Living Desert, is one of the most viewed posts on Bud’s Blog because of people looking for references to the old Disney nature film of the same name.  Is this a blatant attempt to get more views by referencing the same film?  You betcha!

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5 Comments on “On Being Mindless”


  1. “Is this a blatant attempt to get more views by referencing the same film? You betcha!”

    Ahahahahahahhahhah!

  2. cherperz Says:

    I am so relieved that your prickly pear cactus has been saved from the nasty bugs. I am very militant when it comes to bugs and fungi that are harm plants.

    That’s interesting about the Disney title/blog title directing traffic. From now on you will see posts with titles such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Peter Pan over at TAOBC.


  3. Ouch! Homeownership is such a pain! 😉

  4. granny1947 Says:

    Oh my word…prickly pears.
    I remember, as a kid, picking them.
    And spending weeks getting the thorns out of my fingers.

  5. territerri Says:

    My mindlessness constantly takes me to the lower level of the house, only to forget why I went there in the first place. Yours made you go to a lot more effort than is usually required of me. Glad to hear you were able to accomplish your goal in the long run. Sorry you got poked by a cactus in the process!


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