Friday Flower Fiesta (10-31-14)—Merry Halloween!

Friday Flower Fiesta

Let’s see if anyone can guess what the theme for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta is.

Aloe flower buds

Flower in an organic garden

Flowers at San Diego State University

Friday Flower Fiesta 4-5-13

Friday Flower Fiesta 4-5-13

Nasturtium flower

Ranunculus at the Carlsbad Flower Fields

Flower and rain drops

Flower and rain drops

Flower and rain drops

Coneflower

Friday Flower Fiesta

Happy Halloween!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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It was six years ago today (we got married!)

I livew in my own little world

On April 15, 1993, I was standing in line at the Bank of A&M in College Station, Texas, to transfer money from savings to checking to cover the check I was writing to the IRS later than afternoon.

Late that night, after packing the Mustang GT with 100 CDs, enough clothes for a one-week drive, and $5,000 in cash, I left for Canada to commit suicide. It wasn’t the IRS, although I have heard of the IRS driving people to death. Rather, it was sexuality—mine—which I couldn’t reconcile with my Mormon (mom) and Catholic (dad) upbringing. Thus, at the age of 38, I was going to choose suicide.

It’s a two-week story of how I wound up in San Diego, but I did…. And I stayed.

On May 26, 1994, I met Jim Frimmer at the Men’s Coming Out Support Group at the San Diego Center for Social Services. It was actually the gay and lesbian center, but even as recently as 1994 you couldn’t have a telephone number listed for anything “gay” or “lesbian.”

At that time I was working as a consultant in Detroit, Michigan. The company provided me with a free trip home once a month, and May 26, 1994, was my first trip home. We had dates on the 27, 28, and 29 before I had to go back to Detroit. After those three dates, we were pretty sure we were committed to each other.

In November 1995, after I had returned to San Diego permanently, we moved in together and commingled our finances and our lives—a common-law marriage, although not recognized as such since it was between two guys.

On July 31, 2004, we got domestic partnered (such an ugly term) when Domestic Partnership came to California.

Then, in May 2008, the California Supreme Court effectively made same-gender marriage legal in California with one of its rulings. Almost immediately, religious political extremists started gathering signatures for a voter referendum on “gay marriage” and succeeded in getting it on the November 2008 ballot. A week before the election, the polls weren’t looking good for same-gender marriage, so I asked Jim to marry me….

….and on October 30, 2008….

WE GOT MARRIED!
(legally)

The referendum passed, which meant that same-gender couples could no longer marry in California. But what about the 17,000 same-gender couples who had married in California between May and November 2008? Well, in May 2009, the California Supreme Court ruled that since those same-gender couples had married legally, their marriages would remain legal.

Religious political extremists sued to have them declared null and void, but they lost. Since that time same-gender marriage has been taking the United States state by state, and it’s only a matter of time before all 50 states recognize the love between two people of the same gender.

So happy anniversary to Jim Frimmer. Thank you for being a significant part of my life for over twenty years.

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My first Photographic Art sale to a Realtor

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I had great success in March and April 2014 when I set up my first galleries at Fine Art America. Then, on April 27, I hired Julian Rey Saenz to help me with my Photographic Art. He cataloged thousands of files, uploaded hundreds of files to Fine Art America, and created a database of over 8,000 Realtors to whom we could market Photographic Art as close-of-escrow gifts.

Photographic Art, and thus Julian’s job, had been capitalized for six months. I thought we would easily have appropriate sales at the end of six months to keep the company capitalized into the future as far as we wanted to go. That didn’t happen, and I’m not really sure why. I still have some analysis to do there.

Yesterday, though, I sold my first Photographic Art to Thomas J. Nelson, a La Jolla & San Diego Realtor who is using it as a close-of-escrow gift. Thomas and I have been working together since 2004; I have been doing the home inspections for his buying Clients.

Thomas bought a 48″x6.75″ metal print of San Diego Panorama. Looks like this:

img_5974 panorama 1200

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Click on the picture for a huger version, and then visualize that huger version (1200 pixels wide) as a metal print 48″ wide. That’s four feet! It’s going to be awesome!

Total cost, including shipping, was $126.49, and my profit was $23.26. Not much but it will buy half a tank of gasoline. More importantly, though, I have that first sale as a close-of-escrow gift, which allows me to do better marketing, i.e., marketing with a testimonial.

Now if I do some projections with those 8,000 Realtors in my database, all I need for first-year success is 50 Realtors to buy close-of-escrow gifts similar to that just once a month. That would allow me to continue to capitalize the company with ongoing sales, and those ongoing sales would allow me to do some very serious marketing, including keeping a small inventory to use as samples and emergency close-of-escrow gifts.

Julian got a job with one of our city politicians. Maybe after political season is over with, or during the spring when Julian will be playing high school tennis instead of working, I can hire him back and we can have another go at this.

With or without Julian, I can make this work. I’m going to go back to what I was doing in March and April and see what happens for the rest of the year.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Get it in writing

I livew in my own little world

Back in 1994 I met a Nevada attorney with whom I became good friends. We met in Detroit, Michigan, while working for the same company.

When he started a competing company in 1995, he asked me to come aboard as the CEO. He couldn’t match my current pay, so I didn’t go. At that time in my life, pay was everything.

He kept after me on a regular basis, and I volunteered many weekends to help create the infrastructure for his company. As his company grew, he kept asking me to work for him. I kept telling him that when he could match my salary, I was all his.

Finally, in March 1995, he said he could, and would, match my salary. My salary had grown substantially. He was shocked, but I gave him a pay stub as proof. He offered me the job and the salary. I gave two weeks notice and flew from Oakland, California, to Tampa, Florida, to begin my new job.

As his company acquired more Clients—specifically Clients in California and Nevada, he decided to move the company west. Since I was the CEO, I had some input into new headquarters, and we landed in my home town of San Diego.

During all my interactions with him, he kept promising me the world, and he kept delivering….

One of his promises was that if the company survived five years with me as CEO, I would get 5% of the company. As we came upon the four-year anniversary, he announced that he was dating one of our employees in Boston. At 4½ years, he announced his engagement. At 4 years and 11 months, he got married and they went to Europe on a 30-day honeymoon. When they returned, he announced that I was being let go and that his wife was going to be the new CEO. I had no employment contract because I trusted him immensely.

Life has been downhill ever since….

My only satisfaction with that story is that six months after they got married, they got divorced. Interestingly, even though he was an attorney with a net worth far in excess of hers, he had no prenuptial. She got $37 million, half of his net worth, in the divorce settlement.

Moral: Get it in writing.

I reached the pinnacle of my career in 1999-2000, and today I am at the bottom. I’m still trying but not really sure what I’m going to do, or how much longer I’m going to stick around….

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History Through Philately—The Gateway Arch

History Through Philately stamp

On this date in 1965, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was completed.

Scott #4044 Gateway ArchScott #4044, Gateway Arch
Issued May 27, 2006

The Gateway Arch is the tallest memorial in the United States, the tallest stainless steel monument in the world, Missouri’s tallest accessible building (you can go in it and up to the top), and the world’s tallest arch.

It is 630 feet wide at the base and 630 feet tall at its peak. My mathematics skills, admittedly lacking in today’s world of computer calculators, tells me that something 630 feet wide by 630 feet tall is a square. So why does this look like an arch?

Tidbits

  1. It was designed in 1947. Construction began on February 12, 1963; it was completed on October 28, 1965; and it opened to the public on June 10, 1967.
  2. The proposal to build a memorial on the St. Louis riverfront was first suggested in late 1933 during the Great Depression.
  3. Construction costs were estimated at $30 million, an unbelievable expenditure during the Great Depression, and an estimated 5,000 jobs were to be created for three to four years. Actual construction costs came in at $14 million, but only 100 jobs were created.
  4. On December 31, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7253 to declare the 82-acre site as the very first National Historic Site. The Order also provided $3.3 million through the Works Progress Administration and another $3.45 million through the Public Works Administration.
  5. The City of St. Louis acquired the 82 acres through public condemnation rather than purchase.
  6. A design competition for the memorial was suggested in November 1944, and such a competition opened on May 30, 1947. Submissions were first received on September 1, 1947, and the winner was announced on February 19, 1948.
  7. Not everyone supported construction of the arch. Many St. Louis residents considered it a “stupendous hairpin” and a “stainless steel hitching post.”
  8. During the height of the railroad building empire, railroads bought or were given prime property in many cities. Such was the case with St. Louis with railroad tracks passing between the location of the memorial and the riverfront. Ultimately, the tracks of the Missouri Pacific Railroad were relocated 105 feet west and lowered 18 feet below ground.
  9. Moving the railroad tracks was first suggested in early 1949. It took another ten years before an agreement was reached between the city and the railroad, and funds were made available.
  10. Construction bids were accepted through January 22, 1962. As seems to always be the case with, the lowest bidder won. Ground was broken in 1959, the foundation was completed in 1961, and construction on the actual arch began in 1963.
  11. The arch is resistant to earthquakes and is designed to sway up to nine inches in winds up to 150 mph.
  12. MacDonald Construction Company won the construction bid. Hmmm. MacDonald building a huge McDonald’s arch……………

Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music On Mondays (10-27-14)—Breaking yourself of singing with your eyes closed

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I have been collecting music since I was 11. My wise old grandmother gave me a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder for my birthday. She did not like it, though, when I was up at 3:00 in the morning recording songs off the radio. Forty-eight years later and I’m still up at 3:00 in the morning listening to music….

It should be no surprise, then, that music brings back memories. In fact, I define many events in my life by what music was playing at the time.

Even some friends are remembered whenever certain songs come on. For example, my first kiss was in the living room of my wise old grandmother’s house with “Hey Jude” by The Beatles playing on the radio.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My first live rock ‘n’ roll concert occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas, when I went to see The Byrds and Dr. John. That also happens to be the first, last, and only time that I smoked a joint. Nasty stuff…. Because of that, every time I listen to “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds, I’m transported back in time to the Coliseum in Corpus Christi.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My first college roommate, with whom I got along disastrously and moved out after one semester, will always be remembered when “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin is playing. He played that song endlessly, starting at 6:00 a.m. and ending at midnight. Never was I so happy as when either of us had to go to class. Such a sad time is remembered by such a great song.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My first concert in Houston was at The Summit—Paul McCartney & Wings for their “Wings Over America” Tour. As usual with Paul McCartney—still—the concert was long and I had to get back to College Station for classes the next morning. I decided to leave during the clapping for an encore. However, the encore came as I was walking to the exit, and it was a song with which I was not familiar: “Soily.” “Soily” was the B side of the single “Maybe I’m Amazed” but I had quit collecting 45 singles by that time and did not know about the song. Here is the live version from the “Wings Over America” album:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My last concert before graduating from Texas A&M University was Chicago and Jackson Browne. Three friends and I drove 90 miles from College Station to Houston listening to Chicago and Jackson Browne. I was unfamiliar with Jackson Browne but I liked what I was hearing. I asked who it was, and Richard Scruggs said, “Jackson Browne.” To which I responded, “Jackson who?” Richard’s still a good friend courtesy of Facebook, and whenever I listen to Jackson Browne, all I have to do is post on Facebook “Jackson who?” and Richard understands that I’m thinking of him. Here is “The Pretender,” title track from his classic 1976 album of the same name.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

While Jim and I were dating, I regularly sent him postcards and letters with snippets of songs by The Beatles. The song that most reminds me of my husband of 20½ years (our wedding anniversary is October 30!) is The Beatles’ “In My Life.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the past six months, Julian Rey Saenz worked with me at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. He plays the guitar and sings, although he sings with his eyes closed. He claims that he doesn’t, but I now have proof from a performance a few days ago:

Julian Rey Saenz

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is more where that came from, including a 6:47 video which has eyes open for only 0:13. Julian, you can do better!

I used to sing with my eyes closed, too, when I was with a Beatles cover band in College Station in the mid-1980s…. Until a Houston friend, Bill Bammel, came to one of my performances with his video camera. He pointed it out to me, and told me how to break myself: Practice singing in front of a mirror because it’s virtually impossible to be in front of a mirror with your eyes closed. Thus you’ll sing and subconsciously keep your eyes open to watch yourself. Do it enough, and it becomes a habit that carries over to performances.

Julian Rey SaenzThe whole purpose of singing with your eyes open, especially in small, intimate settings, is to make eye contact with your audience, some of whom often are sitting just feet away from you. The more eye contact you make, the better the tips, and the more performances you’ll find yourself doing because people like eye contact in those small settings.

Practice makes perfect. Yes, tips and invitations to perform increased when I started singing with my eyes open. It worked for me, and I think it can work for Julian. Nonetheless….

I’m pretty sure Julian knows the guitar chords and words to every Beatles song ever, including some of the alternate stuff that showed up on the three Anthology CDs of the late 1990s. It won’t be a Beatles song by which I remember Julian, though. Instead, it will be a song by The White Stripes, a group that Julian introduced me to. Here’s my favorite:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#4: Presidio of San Diego site, part 1

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #4 is the site of the Presidio of San Diego.

Presidio of San Diego site

San Diego Presidio Site
Soldiers, sailors, Indians, and Franciscan missionaries from New Spain occupied the land at Presidio Hill on May 17, 1769 as a military outpost. Two months later, Fr. Junipero Serra established the first San Diego mission on Presidio Hill. Officially proclaimed a Spanish Presidio on January 1, 1774, the fortress was later occupied by a succession of Mexican forces. The Presidio was abandoned in 1837 after San Diego became a pueblo.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Only ruins of the Presidio remain, simple bumps in the ground:

Site of the Presidio of San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A walk around the surround grounds finds many items of interest, such as a statue of “The Indian” by Arthur Putnam (1873-1930)….

The Indian, by Arthur Puinam, in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….a statue of “The Padre,” also by Arthur Putnam….

"The Padre" by Arthur Putnam in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….and a hugemonstergiganticreallyreallybig cross made out of bricks:

The Cross in Presidio Park in San Diego California

The Cross in Presidio Park in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wouldn’t it be neat if we discovered that the bricks are from an old building in the area? Sadly, I could find nothing about the cross other than what is told on a plaque at the base:

In this ancient Indian village of Cosoy
Discovered and named San Miguel by Cabrillo in 1549
Visited and christened San Diego de Alcala by Vizcaino in 1602
Here the first citizen
Fray Junipero Serra
Planted civilization in California
Here he first raised the cross. Here began the first mission.
Here founded the first town, San Diego, July 16, 1769
In memory of him and his works. The Order of Panama 1913.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Just across the street from the ruins of the Presidio is the Junípero Serra Museum, one of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego.

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Junípero Serra Museum is often mistaken for Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá—indeed, for many years, I counted myself among the mistaken.

The Serra Museum was built in 1928-1929 for the purpose of housing the collection of the San Diego Historical Society (now named the San Diego History Center), which was founded in 1928. William Templeton Johnson was the architect and used Spanish Revival architecture to resemble the early missions that once dominated the Southern California landscape.

Following are three pictures from the Museum’s collection of the Museum in 1929:

Architect’s elevation drawingElevation of the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Project completedJunipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Dedication DayDedication day of the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Prior to the Great Recession, the Museum was open seven days a week. Now, sadly, it is open only on weekends.

There are other markers from the past, and I’m sure I missed some because they are located in strange places, places which probably weren’t so strange many decades ago. An example is this tree, possibly as old as the ruins:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See the crooked gravestone-like marker at the right of the trunk? Obviously I had to go see what it said:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Dedicated in memory of
Father Francisco Palou
Biographer of Fr. Serra

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I also discovered a huge statue of a man on a horse:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The plaque on the base is in Spanish:

DONADO A LA CIUDAD DE SAN DIEGO
POR EL SEÑOR LICENSIADO
GUSTAVO DIAZ ORDAZ
PRESIDENTE DE LA REPUBLICA MEXICANA
NOVIEMBRE DE 1970

Wikipedia tells me that Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (1911-1979) was president of Mexico from 1964 to 1970. That, however, doesn’t explain anything about this statue and why it is there. Research for another day….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As I said earlier, the Junípero Serra Museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. I went a couple of weeks ago, and in my next posting about San Diego Historical Landmarks, I’ll take you inside the Museum. It’s quite beautiful and should not be missed if you make a trip to Presidio Hill.

The San Diego Presidio Site is also California Registered Historic Landmark #59. Considering that this is where California was founded, what 58 sites could be more important?

Junipero Sera Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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