Wednesday, 30 April 2014


It is well past midnight in the darkened control room when the bank of computers flicker to life. In nervous anticipation, she closely studies the central screen awaiting the results of weeks of tireless efforts. Three white dots, in a painstakingly slow dance, move at first randomly around the screen and then ultimately towards each other.  When they merge, she bows her head in relief.  Another saguaro family successfully united. The team has done it again.

The historic plight of the saguaro cactus, in their chaotic flight from Mexico, was first discovered by Dr. Jose Welstud.  Scoffed at and ridiculed by the scientific community, Jose spent countless nights in the desert.  With night vision goggles, time lapse photography and probably a few bottles of his favourite red wine, he was able to catch the nighttime movement and migration of these mighty sentinels. 

From Santa Pedro, a wizened aged saguaro in his final years, the sordid tale of desperate saguaro families fleeing first the Mexican Revolution and then the emergence of dangerous drug cartels came to light.

Forced to flee to Arizona at nighttime and encumbered by their snail-like, lumbering pace, saguaro familes became separated.  Locating lost relatives and children from the thousands in saguaro refugee forests was akin to finding a needle in a hay stack.

Tales of younger saguaro who lacked loving parental guidance succumbing to local drug dealers with devastating, deforming results, plus...

....evidence of distraught, suicidal cacti, unable to locate beloved family members ...

... inspired Dr. Welstud to form Team SOS (Save Our Saguaros).  Joining him in his efforts were Cacti Cathy, an intrepid desert hiker, and Jimmie Lensfeld, photographer and famous computer guru.

Team SOS were first tasked with providing medical assistance to saguaro injured during flight.  Only after health issues were dealt with, could they hope to reunite families.  Sorting the large number of wounded, plagued with broken limbs, frayed roots, and bodies gashed while flipping over border fences, was the task of Dr. Jose Welstud who set up highly efficient "tree-auge" units and care facilities.

Charged with the next, and definitely most difficult, step was Cacti Cathy.  Working closely with Dr. Welstud ( some rumoured that they worked too closely), Cathy analyzed for DNA, fruit donated by saguaros in search of family members.

The intrepid hiker then headed into the desert, far too frequently with Jose and his red wine supply in tow ( that's for another blog ), following saguaro spoor, analyzing tracks, scents, and scat...

... in search of unique family signatures.

Renowned and self- proclaimed computer genius (?), Jimmie Lensfield, developed a homing device with which identified saguaro family members could be tagged.  

Each honing device emitted a distinct signal that allowed tagged family members to slowly journey at nighttime towards each other. Team SOS members could follow the heartwarming movements of families on the bank of computer screens in their headquarters.

Remarkably, Team SOS seek no financial gain from their herculian efforts.  In an effort to remind the public of this historic saguaro migration to Arizona, Jose Welstud continues to speak around the country ...

.... but freely admits that it is the joy exhibited by united family members, ...

...the nighttime smiles on their grateful faces, ...

... and the birth of new family members ...

... that has made his lifetime passion worthwhile.

This reporter would like to sincerely thank Team SOS for their compassion, tireless efforts, and for making a difference!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


For Michelle, Morgan and Jim who will know why:

Winter's chill has at long last released its unwelcome hold on the terrain.  The smooth rocks, gravel and wind-blown sand of the Sonoran Desert floor absorb spring's strengthening solar rays and like a radiator, disperse their warmth.  Too long in his dreary winter home, he tentatively emerges, lured by the season's inviting temperatures.  Needing to avoid others, he apprehensively moves into the sunny open desert and gratefully rests his heavy, winter-weary body on a time eroded rock.  Surrounded by columnar cacti and giant saguaros, who, like sentinels, guard his privacy, he allows himself the luxury of basking in the welcome Arizona sunshine.

Ever alert, he first senses a subtle change in the air.  Vibrations from deep below shatter his peace.  Predators trespassing on his land.  Danger?  Killers?  Not waiting to find out, he reluctantly vacates his sunny perch shrinking back into the murky shadows, camouflaging and concealing himself in the shade of a prickly pear.  On the intruders advance.  In fear he braces himself.

Continuing to encroach on his territory, the trespassers move bodily into view.  Fear evaporates, replaced by a resolute determination to survive, to protect himself.  His threatening rattle amplifies on the dry desert air as he coils his powerfully muscled length and prepares his venomous strike.

Friday, 11 April 2014


Clean!  Unbelievably, I have been clean since Christmas.  Showing immense personal control I have successfully avoided any situations that would set me off or compromise my promise to myself.  No stash has been secretly stored in our home.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been permitted within my immediate vicinity that would lead this compulsive craving of mine to require immediate gratification. Remarkably, my resolve has remained steadfast.

As the months passed, cravings decreased.  Moments when I was unable to think of anything else all but disappeared.  Hallelujah!  Talk about a success story!  Without the need for rehab, I had personally wrestled my insidious monster to the ground.  My recovery was complete.  Or so I thought.  Of late, my monster has been calling to me.  You can never escape me, he gleefully boasts.  Suddenly he is everywhere; his lure, relentless.  I struggle to avoid a devastating relapse.  

My name is Daphne Lockett and ......... I am a chocoholic.  Now where did I hide those damn Easter eggs?!?!?!

Saturday, 5 April 2014


Buried deep in the furthest corner of my shoe closet are my beloved walking shoes.  They huddle in their corner uncertain as to whether they belong.  I must admit how out of place they appear amongst my dress and casual shoes.  I smile.  Definitely not a fashion statement, these shoes are butt ugly, old brown clunkers.  The soles could easily have been cut from snow tires.  The leather ties were frayed and threatened to fall apart, but stubbornly hung on until recently when I caved and replaced them.  Sentimental, I know, but I have saved those old leather ties. The shoe tops are water stained; the toes badly scuffed. But I love my walking shoes and they know it.   Minnie Mouse has her oversize pumps; I can have my big brown clunkers.  For over twenty years, these clunkers have been my partners in travel, my tour guides, and my harbinger of adventures and excitement to come.

Beauty, wise men say, is in the eye of the beholder.  The memories stored in these shoes make them beautiful to this beholder.  Imbedded in the stitching are traces of dried muck, a reminder of sinking in a  Scottish bog.  Faded, water- stained tops remind me of numerous housings to wash away caked sand dust from hiking in the Sonoran Desert.  Anchored firmly between two treads are two pebbles from the top of Mount Vesuvius.  I refuse to remove them; they are my badges for reaching the summit.  Green stains along the shoes' sides speak of west coast forest moss.  Aggressive scuffing on the toes reminds me of Newfoundland's rocky shoes.  With each turn in my hands, memories surface.

Although my aching legs would beg to differ, my beautiful uglies have guided me painlessly and accident-free over terrains ranging from pebbled beaches to pulverized lava to cobblestoned streets, from rocky shore trails to desert terrain to rain forest.  The one time I wore running shoes and not my beautiful uglies, I badly injured my left knee in a fall.  Am I now superstitious.  You bet!   My walking shoes and I - we are a great team.  Where I go, they go.

Shoes now in hand, I can feel excitement and anticipation gurgle up inside me.  And so I ask, Where to now, my faithful friends? They whisper their answer.