Tuesday, August 02, 2005

More Frightening Plant Life 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAbout 2 weeks ago we noticed a walnut sized lump on Billy's neck, right where a lymph node should be. It was rock hard but Billy didn't flinch or express discomfort when we poked and prodded it. Since this is turning out to be a real annus horribilis, I immediately assumed malignancy. The veterinarian took a look at it and decided that the lump needed to be removed, so Billy had day surgery. The results were not cancer, but a foxtail, a plant like something out of science fiction horror. A foxtail is a spiky weed whose seedlings burrow like a fishhook into dogs. The seedlings create a pocket of pus and then use the pus to drill and advance through the dog's body. Foxtails that enter the foot can end up in a dog's brain, traveling all around the body using their Innerspace/Fantasic Voyage puscraft. I've heard of parasitic organisms doing all sorts of freaky, terrible things, but I didn't expect that sort of behavior from a plant! Foxtails are a scourge, but some reason only affect dogs - horses and cattle graze on them with impunity. It must be an unfortunate evolutionary accident because I cannot see how drilling into a dog would serve the purposes of this demon plant except to make itself mobile for a bit and then create a really big pile of starter fertilizer after it kills the dog. Billy has fully recuperated and the upside is that he had his nails clipped while he was under his general anesthesia, which is about what it requires now.

Here's a professional question not related to weird & frightening plant life. About 20 years ago I read a novel, written by a Frenchman, about a diaspora of third worlders who come to Europe on a fleet of old ships and destroy their civilization. Only the US stands up to stop them. After a recent trip to France, I was reminded of the book and its relevancy to today, but can't remember the title. Does it ring a bell with you? Thanks.
Could it be The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail?
Hey, your blog really cheered me up. Thank you!
Yes, Elizabeth, I believe that is the name of the book. Ah, the power of the internet to answer even the most esoteric question. Many thanks.
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