Here's something every desert dweller needs to know

2013-09-26T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T12:37:19Z Here's something every desert dweller needs to knowAlexis Powers Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The trouble started with Toots. Ready for bed, I let the dogs out for their last opportunity of the day. After 10 minutes, Charlie bounded back, but Toots was nowhere to be seen. After I called for her, she left her hiding place behind some cactus to come into the house, but she was chewing on something.

I grabbed her and put my right hand in her mouth, but she swallowed too fast. Holding her scruff with my left hand, I noticed something on her back that I brushed away with my right hand. In a second, both hands were studded with minuscule cactus needles.

Assuming that needles work themselves out, I went to bed. Sleep was impossible because my hand felt like it was on fire. About 5 a.m. I gave up. I looked for Toots, positive that whatever she’d eaten, combined with thousands of cactus needles, must have killed her. Guess what? She was asleep with not a care in the world.

The needles were too small to be plucked with tweezers. I called my brother, who had lived in Tucson for 15 years. He suggested placing tape on the needles and pulling it — and hopefully the needles — off. No success. Next I went online to search for a remedy. Several website suggested glue.

Elmer’s Glue worked, but after I used up my supply, my hands still hurt. In the garage I found Gorilla Glue.

“What the heck,” I figured. Knowing it was unwise, I recklessly poured the glue on one finger. While it hardened, I viewed the Gorilla Glue website where it specifically warned against getting the glue on your skin.

Now one finger had hard glue on it while the rest of my hand had cactus needles.

I got dressed and went to the supermarket. An older man wearing cut-off overalls was walking toward the store.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you know how to fix things?”

“I’m retired,” he said.

“What did you do before you retired?” I asked, hoping he had been a cactus needle remover.

“I was a salesman,” he said.

“Oh,” I said, proceeding to tell him of my plight.

Smiling broadly, he said, “I don’t know how to help you get rid of the cactus, but that would make a hilarious movie.”

“Movie?” I replied. “How about a column?

I left him scratching his head wondering what I was talking about.

Once in the market, I bought a huge supply of Elmer’s Glue — and for good measure I bought a roll of Gorilla Tape.

Back home, I applied the glue, let it dry, and peeled it off. Many of the needles disappeared. Following the instructions online, I generously applied moisturizer to my hands. The article said that the glue would remove the moisture from my skin. I felt like all the moisture was leaving my brain.

After  I repeated this procedure seven or eight times, the needles seemed to be gone, but my hands were sore — and the one finger still had Gorilla glue on it … maybe it always will.

Alexis Powers is the author of several books and lives on the northwest side. Email her at or view her website at

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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