We spent an afternoon with Rudy and Nancy as well, and it was the cactuses that brought us there. It was early on in our tenure here in Lincoln Heights. Ilse was amazed by the cactuses and intrigued by another inveterate gardener in our neighborhood. She made me go up and knock on the door. Rudy was a bit surly at first, wondering who the hell I was and looking to me like a chicano version of every happy thought I have of Charles Bukowski, dirty white shirt and boxers and brown socks and all. But Nancy came to the top of the stairs and looked down and immediately, upon my remarks of the wonderful garden, we were invited into the wonder of their place. The girls played with the mountain of cans Rudy collected and squashed flat with a sledge hammer and we got to dig their chickens and the remnants of his once proud veggie garden and orchard out back. It was all as old and crusty now as we generally are impressed by and the feeling of being steeped in history was everywhere. The chunk of cactus they sent us off with grows proud and huge out front of our place now. And of course, we’re all chickened and gardened and fruit tree’d up now too. Wonder if we’ll come to a similar end. Most likely. Steve Lopez really gets the pathos right in his Times Article on the El Chicano & La Gringa.