Revisiting: walker balls and Australian plants

In recent days, occasions to re-play previous postings: one on pre-cut walker balls, one on Jill Brailsford’s stylized drawings of native Australian plants.

Walker balls and glide skis. Past history, from my 12/10/20 posting “Pre-cut walker balls”:

So the label announced, in big bold type, leading me to reflexively shield my testicles from harm with my right hand: no one’s going to cut my balls if I have anything to do with it.

Oh, this is balls ‘spherical object’, not the specialized slang balls ‘testicles’. Specifically, it’s walker balls, the spherical objects on the two non-wheeled feet of a standard walker (NOAD: noun walkerNorth American a frame used by disabled or infirm people for support while walking, typically made of metal tubing with small wheels or rubber-tipped feet [or such feet encased in balls that make movement over a surface smoother and also protect floors].)

The classic walker balls are merely tennis balls mutilated so that they can be placed over the walker’s feet. My previous walker balls were in fact neon-yellow tennis balls.

Back then I started with some gray pre-cut balls, but quickly discovered that they come in colors, including, oh wonderful day, purple. Like this:

(#1) Purple pre-cut walker wall, showing its orifice, where the tubing goes in

The makers warn you to use them indoors only, not on rough outdoor surfaces. But I need a walker to get to my mailbox (in the condo parking lot) and to get things from my concrete entryway and to take things out to my tiled patio, so the balls get worn down fairly fast. Then the walker starts scraping along, shrieking all the while. So I have to keep replacing the balls. Which is surprisingly hard to manage.

Recently, my hands being just barely functional, I’ve been getting my grandchild — we have Opal for the summer, but soon they’re back to Pittsburgh — to wrestle the balls onto the tubing. Yesterday, while Opal was accomplishing this feat, Elizabeth went to search for Something Sturdier. Something designed for just my situation. And found these, which Amazon should be delivering to me in an hour or so:

(#2) Top Glides DuraSki extra durable walker glide skis for 1 1/8 inch tubes (purple)

I’m looking forward to skiing to the mailbox.

Notable leaves and tree oil. Past history, from my 6/21/22 posting “Leaves like lemons, leaves like holly”: thanks to Gillian Mary notecards from Ann Burlingham, I discovered Jill Brailsford’s stylized drawings of native Australian plants — there, crimson bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus) and holly-leaved banksia  (Banksia ilicifolia):

(#3) Brailsford’s bottlebrush with the lemony leaves

(#4) Brailsford’s holly-leaved  banksia

Then, in my 7/15 mail, Ann B’s 7/12 notecard from Pittsburgh: her son Henry about to go off to college (in Fairbanks AK!), and another excellent Jill Brailsford drawing:

(#5) Brailsford’s tea-tree (Melaleuca alternifolia): pretty and odor-fighting

Now, about the plant, from my 5/6/18 “On the track of men’s deodorant”:

Ad copy for [my stick dedorant]:

Purifying Tea Tree Deodorant Stick: Our Deodorant is clinically tested to effectively control odor for all day protection. Zinc Ricinoleate, Corn Starch and Baking Soda neutralize odor while Tea Tree [Melaleuca alternifolia] Oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract, known for their antimicrobial properties, help fight odor-causing bacteria.

Oh, you were thinking tea tree, the Camellia sinensis tree, from which we get the leaves to brew the tea we drink. But no, Melaleuca alternifolia, something quite different, though its leaves do resemble the leaves of the beverage-tea tree.

Melaleucas. Previously on this blog: on 4/3/16, the posting “Common names that are also descriptions” has a section on the melaleucas. But now specifically on the one in my deodorant, from Wikipedia:

Melaleuca alternifolia, commonly known as narrow-leaved paperbark, narrow-leaved tea-tree, narrow-leaved ti-tree, or snow-in-summer, is a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Endemic to Australia, it occurs in southeast Queensland and the north coast and adjacent ranges of New South Wales where it grows along streams and on swampy flats, and is often the dominant species where it occurs.

… Characteristic of the myrtle family Myrtaceae, it is used to distill essential oil. It is the primary species for commercial production of tea tree oil (melaleuca oil), a topical antibacterial. Tea tree oil is commonly used as a topical antiseptic agent because of its antimicrobial properties, especially in the treatment of acne. It is also known to reduce inflammation and may be effective in the treatment of fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

When I mention melaleucas to my friends from South Florida, they blanch and gasp in horror. The monster isn’t M. alternifolia, but M. quinquenervia. From Wikipedia:

Melaleuca quinquenervia, commonly known as the broad-leaved paperbark, paper bark tea tree, punk tree or niaouli, is a small- to medium-sized tree of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. It grows as a spreading tree up to 20 m (70 ft) tall, with its trunk covered by a white, beige and grey thick papery bark. The grey-green leaves are egg-shaped, and cream or white bottlebrush-like flowers appear from late spring to autumn.

Melaleuca quinquenervia has been classified by the United States Department of Agriculture as a noxious weed in six US states (Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Texas), as well as federally. It is an abundant exotic invasive plant in the Everglades. Its unchecked expansion in South Florida is one of the most serious threats to the integrity of the native ecosystem.


One Response to “Revisiting: walker balls and Australian plants”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    [7 p.m. on 7/17] Glide skis have arrived (along with a melatonin refill). The base of the ski is a good 1/4 inch of solid plastic, so they should indeed last for some time.

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