We received Donn's letter and pictures and were interested in his mention of the Chochinilla He mentioned that it was a beetle to make a beautiful dye. I told Naoma that the Chochinilla was so small that we could not tell whether it was a beetle or not. We went out to what is left of our Prickly-pear cactus to examine the Cochinilla which had over a period of years destroyed our big beautiful Prickly-pear plant. Naoma got a good magnifying glass to examine the tiny creatures.

When we went out to the plant it was all gone except one prickley pear leaf and several heavy stocks. Naoma found many white patches of Chochinilla on the different parts of the plant. They were slowly sucking the life out of that 50 year old plant. Naoma mashed several spots of white with her finger and produced a beautiful purple maroon dye on her finger and the plant. When she examined the tiny bugs with a magnifying glass she could not tell anything about them, because they were so small.

Over fifty years ago we received a box of prickly leaves from down south which we planted and nurtured for years. They froze down in the winter until the plant became climatized and finally could endure our freezing weather. All through the years that plant produced an abundance of big white delicious prickly pears. We would peal them and put them in the refrigerator to cool. They were a delicious sweet unique tasting fruit. We had to eat them seeds and all without chewing up the seeds. About fifteen years ago I was reading an interesting paper about the Aztecs and their culture. I read about how the Aztecs kings raised Cochinilla and used it for a beautiful purple dye to dye their cloth. Not to long after reading about these wonderful little Cochinilla that produced that beautiful dye we found several leaves of our prickley pear plant covered with the white Cochnilla. We curiously mashed the white stuff with our fingers and produced a bright purple maroon dye. We curiously did not do anything about the Cochinilla until it started to kill the leaves of the plant. Then we tried to wash them off with a swift stream of water from the hose. This was successful for awhile, but the Cochinilla always came back even stronger and more numerous than before. Then we tried poison but the the Cochinilla always managed to return. Now that big prickly Pear Plant that fills the front lawn and was as high as the house is down to one leaf and a few heavy stocks.

Ventura brought us some leaves of the red sweet prickly pear and planted them on the south side of the pump room. They have grown up and produce delicious fruit year after year. Ventura has washed a few spots of Cochinilla off this plant. The Cochinilla do not seem to like the taste of this variety, as much as they do the white prickly pear. We are hoping that we can control this terrible pest of the Cochinilla, so that we can continue to produce prickly pears for our use. What we thought was a useful and interesting animal to produce dye It has now become deadly pest, with which we have lost the battle on our delicious white prickly pear plant. For many years that plant gave us an abundance of fruit and of nopalitos, which are the tender leaves of the plant. We would take these leaves and burn off the slivers and dice it up and cook it for a very good food. We would use it in different ways but our favorite was to use it in scrambled eggs a la Mexicana. In Mexico nopalitos are a very popular and healthy food.

Maby Chochinilla can be called a beatle but to us it is just a fungus like pest. All things were made for the use of man, but like weeds when they are out of place, they become a pest that take alought of work to get rid of. Just like a horse when you have work for him and a good place to keep him, he is a very useful animal. When you have to keep him confined, and buy all of his feed, he becomes an extravagant and expensive hobby.

We wanted to use this little narrative to use as a way to write you all a letter and let you know that we are still alive and well. We are enjoying working together on the computer. We are making a special copy of all of our letters and e-mails we have in our computer. We are putting them in a big folder in alphabetical order to preserve them in a special folder. They will be available in writing when the CD players are not around any more. Things are changing so fast that we decided to do all we can to preserve our work and histories. This has become a big project because we have over a hundred and fifty different stories and e-mails apart from our personal histories. It is a good way to keep us busy and gives us something meaningful to keep our minds and memories going.

We send our love and greeting to you all and express our love. We think of you often and remember you in our prayers. Love, Dad & Mom. c