Category Archives: Did you know?

Monarch—Caterpillar to butterfly (WARNING: graphic content)

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love it when it brings new knowledge into my little head, like the Internet and new genome techniques. I hate it when it tries to control my life, like cell phones and cable television.

Yesterday at dawn, I went to Balboa Park to get some “golden hour” pictures for my San Diego Historical Landmark El Prado series.

At the two entrances to the Botanical Building are two large bushes. They always look rather scraggly, like this from yesterday:

Scraggly bush at the entrance to the Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

They look like overgrown weeds, so adults tend to pass right by them. Children (my friends say that I’m a 10-year-old child trapped in a
59-year-old body) notice very quickly that these bushes are unique. Throughout the year one can find these little critters all over the two bushes:

Monarch caterpillar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Do you recognize that little one? Sure, it’s a caterpillar, but more importantly it’s the late stage (called an instar) of a monarch caterpillar. That little one is so big that it probably started pupating the moment I got my picture and left.

Here is a picture of one that is just beginning to pupate:

Pupating Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you see a caterpillar hanging upside down and curling up like that, take a look 24 hours later and you’ll probably see a chrysalis, also called a pupa. Looks like this:

Chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Keep an eye on that chrysalis for the next two weeks and you might be lucky to see a monarch butterfly emerge.

Monarch out of bounds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

(If you’re interested in creating the “out of bounds” effect like above, see my post here: http://russelrayphotos2.com/2013/10/22/how-to-create-the-out-of-bounds-effect-in-photoshop/ .)

Most people know that the Monarch caterpillar feeds only on milkweeds but that plant in the red circle in the first picture does not look like any milkweed I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s not a milkweed. According to the little sign at the bottom of each bush is this:

Calotropis gigantea

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sure enough, that’s not a milkweed.

Ah, but not so fast, grasshopper!

See what it says in the bottom left corner? Asclepiadaceae. That’s the subfamily. That’s where modern genetics and genetic coding (genome) comes into play. Except in the rarest of cases, we didn’t use to have subfamilies. This plant would have been noted as being in the Apocynaceae family, also known as dogbanes. Ah-ha! Guess what other plants are in the dogbane family? That’s right, boys and girls! Milkweed! Milkweed and this crown plant also are in the same Asclepiadaceae subfamily. That means they are very closely related, according to the folks decoding those genomes. That explains why the monarch butterfly loves this plant!

Although it is a scraggly bush, along with the monarch caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies, the flowers are very beautiful, albeit small and well camouflaged with the leaves. Flowers look like this:

Calotropis gigantea flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Botanical Building, according to sources, is the most photographed building in San Diego, and when you’re casually traipsing through Balboa Park, you can’t possibly miss it. Looks like this:

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, in the second picture, you might have had problems (like I did!) determining which end of the caterpillar is the front end and which end is the back end. After looking at a goodly number of the caterpillars, I determined that the back end has shorter antennae. Of course, the back end also is the end that poops. Here is a caterpillar checking out its poop:

Monarch caterpillar and its poop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you don’t like using words like crap, poop, and the S word, frass is a term we use in the home inspection industry. Frass is an informal and loose definition usually used when referring to the poop of insects. Since it is a loose and informal definition, I give you permission to use it when referring to human poop, now also known as human frass.

As I was trying to find out which end was the front end, I came across an interesting 39-second video on YouTube that pretty much confirmed my thinking:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Must be nice to be able to eat and poop at the same time! And on that note:

THE END

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

WordPress problems resolved!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 is fast, fast, fast, fast, fast.

As many of you know, I have been having WordPress problems since January 2, 2014. Many things:

  1. LIKE buttons were not loading on any blog whose URL ended with wordpress.com. Other blogs were fine. Just those ending with wordpress.com were problematic.
  2. Most of the time, not always though, I could not comment on blogs either. This problem affected all blogs, not just those whose URL ended with wordpress.com.
  3. My blog would not load correctly the first time. I would have to refresh or reload it in order to get it to work.
  4. My site stats would not load at all. Never.
  5. The gold star notification at the upper right would not work unless I clicked on the star twice.

SkyTower at SeaWorld San DiegoToday I had some extra time while preparing to go Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld. I could not access the WordPress Help Forums from anywhere on my blog like I could prior to January 2, 2014, so I went to Google, typed in wordpress help forums, and got to them that way.

I spent several hours reading through several hundred threads in the Help Forums before I finally found a clue about what might be happening. The clue was in a very long thread and was about the hundredth comment from someone outside of WordPress, someone like me who was having problems.

The clue was that the commenter was of the firm belief that WordPress was not compatible with Internet Explorer 10. I knew that I had upgraded from IE9 to IE10 but I didn’t know when. I pulled up my computer records and what do you know? I upgraded from IE9 to IE10 the night of January 1, 2014. Ah-ha!

I tried to downgrade from IE10 to IE9 but that apparently isn’t possible. All of the computers that I use daily are running IE10. I pulled out an old laptop computer that I don’t use anymore but which I knew had IE9 on it. Sure enough, I had no WordPress problems on the old computer using IE9.

I saw that IE11 was available, so since I couldn’t downgrade to IE9, I considered upgrading to IE11. I created a restore point on my Windows 7 computer so that if IE11 really caused problems, I could easily go back to IE10. Well, not only did IE11 load easily and quickly, but I have no more WordPress problems. LIKE buttons are loading, my stats page is showing up again, etc.

So there you have it! The problem wasn’t with my computer per sé but with a computer program that I needed in order to even get to my WordPress blog. The interesting thing is that apparently when Internet Explorer is your main browser, Firefox, Chrome, etc., don’t override everything in Internet Explorer. That explains why I was having the same problems in Firefox and Chrome.

I’m so happy! I can go blog camping again now, something that I really missed doing these past three months.

Lastly, not only is my Internet browsing so much faster than it was with IE10, but my whole computer seems to be much faster. Can’t explain it, but it is what it is.

And following a close-up of Shamu from this evening’s Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego. Jim and I were sitting about three feet from four Shamus, separated only by a piece of glass four feet tall.

Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego on March 29, 2014

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Happy National Puppy Day!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

National Puppy DayDid you know today was National Puppy Day? It is usually held on March 23, but that would have been Sunday, and many animal shelters are closed on Sundays. So National Puppy Day is today but will be celebrated throughout the weekend by everyone who loves dogs and wants to see each and every one in a forever home providing unconditional love.

My top 15 ways to celebrate National Puppy Day:

  1. Adopt a puppy from your local shelter or pure breed rescue organization.
  2. Donate money, food and toys to your local shelter.
  3. Have a puppy party and invite all your friends and their puppies!
  4. Host a community event to raise money for your local animal shelter.
  5. Volunteer at your local shelter and offer to walk a puppy or play with a puppy, clean cages or anything else they need help with.
  6. Have a tee shirt made with your puppy’s photo on it.
  7. Two women and two dogs at the beachTake your puppy to the beach.
  8. Hire a pet photographer to capture your puppy’s fleeting moments.
  9. Microchip & I.D. Tag your puppy so the shelter can locate you if he gets lost.
  10. Teach your children and their friends to be kind to your puppy by never pulling on his ears or tail.
  11. Pledge to walk your puppy every day for proper health and behavior management.
  12. Take your puppy to an elderly community and spread some love.
  13. If you like your puppy to snuggle in bed with you, buy him some puppy steps to make it easy for him to join you.
  14. Pledge to never chain your puppy to a tree or doghouse. Always include your puppy in your family by letting it live inside the home with you.
  15. And last but not least, pledge to never yell at or hit your puppy, to be patient and kind, and give your puppy lots of love and praise every day.

Here are a few of my best dog pictures, all available for purchase at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America. Use code FTNSD at checkout to get a 20% discount, good through April 14, 2014.

A Man and His DogA Man and His Dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Where’s He Going?Where's He Going?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Waiting PatientlyWaiting Patiently For His Return

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And a couple of other pictures, currently documentary pictures, which will eventually be available as Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Where To?Where To?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Finally! There’s the Beach!Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Not wasted time

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As with most high school teenagers, when I was that age I also wanted to go out with my friends. Most of my friends had cars; I did not. I got my first car when I was 22.

My wise old grandmother, having adopted a juvenile delinquent named Russel, was leery of me having too much freedom, especially with other teenagers in the range of 16-18 years old. Thus, I rarely got to go out whenever I simply asked, “May I go out with Jim/Mark/Lynda/[insert name]?”

However, if I was going to study, I almost always got to go. So I learned that if I really, really wanted to go somewhere, all I had to do was say, “I’m going to the A&I library to study.” “What time will you be home?” was the response.

Sometimes, I actually went to the Texas A&I University library, and that’s when I discovered Bartlett’s Quotations. I was addicted to it . Still am.

One of the things I like to do with my pictures is dream up quotations to attach to them, such as this one:

Time wasted sleeping is not wasted time

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Please thank Zoey the Cool Cat for her invaluable help here. She’s sleeping, but I’ll pass your thanks along to her when she wakes up.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Today is World Sleep Day!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Today is World Sleep Day. I mentioned that to Zoey the Cool cat:

World Sleep Day

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

World Sleep Day is an annual event organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Association of Sleep Medicine and held on the Friday of the second full week of March. The first World Sleep Day was in 2008.

Its purpose is to celebrate the benefits of good and healthy sleep (isn’t all sleep good and healthy?) and to draw attention to the burden of sleep problems and their medicine, education, and social aspects; and to promote sleep disorders prevention and management.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Don’t pull my leg

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I always love going to arboretums and botanical gardens because they have unusual plants and little nameplates by the unusual plants.

So here’s my interesting plant of the day:

Pink lemonade lemon

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Before I tell you what it is, if you have a good, comic guess, leave a comment so we all can laugh.

After all, my wise old grandmother said to add some laughter to each and every day.

Now….

on

to

see

what

that

is.

Here

you

go:

It’s a “pink lemonade lemon.”

Yeah, right.

Don’t pull my leg.

Wikipedia tells me that “Pink lemonade may be colored with the juices of raspberries, cherries, red grapefruit, grapes, cranberries, strawberries, grenadine, or artificial food dye.”

But wait!

There’s more!

Wikipedia also says, “The pink-fleshed, ornamental Eureka lemon is commonly used as its juice is clear though it is sometimes thought to be too sour to drink.” I’m failing to understand why, if its juice is clear, it is used to make pink lemonade! “It’s not logical,” Mr. Spock would say.

I admit that I had no idea that there was a pink lemonade lemon, but when the authorities speak, one should listen:

Pink lemonade lemon

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Potatoes grow on trees

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The campus of San Diego State University is just 1½ miles from me, which makes for a great walk or bike ride. However, once I get to the campus, I tend to wander around looking at buildings and plants.

There is a large Mediterranean Garden at the far north part of campus:

Mediterranean Garden on the campus of San Diego State University

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In the northwest corner of the garden is a sausage tree (Kigelia africana):

Sausage Tree on the campus of San Diego State University

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s an unassuming tree from a distance and doesn’t encourage one to go see it. However, if you do decide to go have a look at it, you’ll find big potato-like things hanging from the branches:

Sausage Tree on the campus of San Diego State University

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The sausage tree is native to tropical Africa. In addition to the one on the SDSU campus, there is one at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The Kigelia genus contains only one species, and you’re looking at pictures of it. Sausage trees can be both evergreen or deciduous, depending on the amount of rainfall. It is related to jacarandas and catalpas, and the flowers are extremely beautiful, large, and waxy:

Sausage Tree on the campus of San Diego State University

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The fruit, a woody berry (?), can be up to 3.3 feet long and 7 inches wide, and hang down on long, rope-like peduncles.

Sausage tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Inside the fruit are hundreds of seeds, and since the fruits can weigh up to 22 pounds, it’s probably not a good idea to park your car under it or walk around under it without a hardhat on since they do fall to the ground.

The fruit is supposedly a cure for rheumatism, evil spirits, syphilis, constipation (it’s a strong laxative) and, wait for it, tornadoes. The raw fruit is poisonous, but when dried, roasted, or fermented, it can be made into beer, skin care products, or eaten.

It’s called a sausage tree because the fruit looks like sausages. Well, not to me! I think they look like Russet potatoes. Compare:

Sausage TreeSausage tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Russet potato from last night’s supperRusset potatoes

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What’s your opinion? Looks like a potato, right?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata)

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The first time I saw an African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata), I was awestruck by three things:

  1. The beauty of the flowers
  2. The size of the flowers
  3. The number of flowers on the tree

African tulip tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I saw my first one at the end of a cul-de-sac one day when I purposely had gotten lost. I don’t remember exactly where it was, only that it was somewhere in South Park, so I haven’t been able to find it again. However, I keep my eye out for other African tulip trees, and I have found a lot of them.

The second one I discovered is a very large tree in the northwest corner of Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park:

Alcazar Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next I discovered several of them at the northwest corner of Costco in Mission Valley:

African tulip trees in Mission Valley near Costco

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Recently I was exploring the beach below Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

I had walked north on the beach, but rather than walking back south on the beach, I decided to go up to Scripps and walk at the top of the cliffs.

Look what I discovered:

African tulip trees at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Location of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The blue building is Sverdrup Hall. Here’s a Google Earth view of the trees:

African tulip trees at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spathodea is a monotypic genus, meaning that there is only one species in the genus, and that species is, of course, Spathodea campanulata, the African tulip tree. Smile if you feel special now!

Mature trees can be anywhere from 23 to 82 feet tall. It is native to the tropical dry forests of Africa, which explains why it does so well here in San Diego. Interestingly, the African tulip tree has been nominated as one of the 100 World’s Worst invaders.

First discovered in 1787 on the Gold Coast of Africa, the African tulip tree is planted extensively in tropical locales for its showy reddish-orange and crimson flowers. Yellow flowers occur, but are rare.

Other interesting tidbits about the African tulip tree:

  1. The flower buds contain water, making them fun to play with since you can shoot the water at other people simply by squeezing the bud.
  2. Thirsty birds love the flowers because their upward cup shape allows them to hold rainwater and dew.
  3. The wood is relatively soft, making the trunks popular with hole-nesting birds like barbets.
  4. Seeds are edible, and seeds, flowers, and roots are used in medicine in some parts of the world.
  5. The bark has laxative and antiseptic properties. It can be boiled in water and used for bathing newborn babies to heal body rashes.

You knew I was going to create some Photographic Art, right?

African tulip tree Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I learned something today…. How about you?

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One of the most unique places in all of San Diego County is the Cedros Avenue Design District in Solana Beach.

Cedros Avenue Design District in Encinitas, California

Cedros Avenue Design District in Solana Beach, California

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Los Angeles Times called the Cedros Avenue Design District “a stroll down a charming European side street.” It’s 2½ blocks comprising around 85 unique shops, boutiques, galleries, home & garden stores, and dining and entertainment. Find original jewelry and fashions, home décor, furniture, art, collectibles, antiques, tapestries, and more. The North County home of the world-famous Belly Up Tavern makes its home on Cedros Avenue, as do many renowned architects, designers, builders, and interior decorators.

One of my favorite stores is the David Alan Collection of unique wood décor at 241 S. Cedros Avenue.

David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Take a look at these offerings:

Wagon WheelsDavid Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Trees etched into wood planks (my kind of art!)David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Uh, nice kitty?………………..David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Reclaimed boat wood and boat lettersDavid Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Who knew that you could actually buy reclaimed boat wood and boat letters? I can think of things to do with the reclaimed boat letters but my creativity is lost on the reclaimed boat wood. Nonetheless, I love the reclaimed part. Remember, don’t throw things away….. there is no away!

Lastly,

if

you

have

young

children

in

the

room

who

are

easily

frightened,

let

them

watch

television

before

looking

at

the

final

picture.

Ready?

Look…………………….

David Alan Collection

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those are from a set of 95 Wayang Golek puppets, all from a single theatre troop and handcrafted in the 1930s. Wayang is Java for theater. Scholars believe that Wayang Golek puppetry originated in China and arrived in Java in the 17th century. The oldest known traditions of Wayang Golek are from the north coast of Java in the Pasisir region.

The doll puppets are carved from wood and operated by control rods connected to the hands, body, and head. They are manipulated by the dulang, the puppet master, who also spoke their parts and coordinated their movements to music from an orchestra.

Wayang Golek thrives today, and Indonesian children often recognize the characters and know the stories well by the time they reach adulthood.

So……. I learned something today. How about you?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….right there by mama’s side!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As much as I love going to SeaWorld, the Zoo, Safari Park, botanical gardens, and aquariums, there is a certain sadness connected to those places because many of the plants and animals they have there are endangered in the wild, usually because of human hunting or development.

Thus there’s always a certain king of joy when one sees plants and animals in their natural habitats.

Such was the case recently when I was way out in the boondocks where I saw many barrel cactus growing in the wild, specifically the fishhook barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni). Other common names include Arizona barrel cactus, candy barrel cactus, and Southwestern barrel cactus. It looks like these beauties:

Fishhook barrel cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fishhook barrel cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That second one looks like it is growing out of solid rock!

Tradition says that the barrel cactus is a source of water for people lost in the desert, and there are records of Native Americans using it for that purpose. However, the water within the plant contains oxalic acid, which can cause diarrhea on an empty stomach. Great! If I’m lost in the desert without water, it’s highly likely that I probably don’t have any food, either!

Barrel cactus (Echinocactus sp. and Ferocactus sp.) are sometimes called “compass cactus” because they are great exhibitors of phototropism–growing towards the light–as shown by this golden barrel cactus:

Golden Barrel Cactus in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Look at the shadow from the rock and you can see that it is, indeed, facing the sun. Here in the United States, most of the sun comes from the south, so the barrel cactus commonly faces south. Ergo, “compass cactus.”

Phototropism is exhibited in houseplants, too, as they usually grow towards the light—smile if that makes you think of Poltergeist, “Come towards the light Carol Anne.” Unfortunately, phototropism can cause house plants to look rather ungainly, which is why my wise old grandmother always rotated her houseplants, to give both sides the opportunity to get some of the light.

As with most cactus, the barrel cactus needles are quite dangerous. In my home state of Texas, we called them “horse cripplers” because a horse accidentally stepping on one, even a rather small one, could cripple it.

Additionally, a barrel cactus puncture wound is considered a dirty wound. If the puncture is deep enough to draw blood, lots of antibiotics may be needed, as well as several months for the wound to heal properly.

Barrel cactus can get quite large and tall. The golden barrel cactus in the picture above is one of the largest I had ever seen. That one, and several others, are located in the Desert Garden in Balboa Park here in San Diego.

However, my trip to the boondocks in East San Diego County provided me the opportunity to see some fishhook barrel cactus that were as tall as me (6’3″), like this one:

Fishhook barrel cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My favorite one, though, was this four-feet-tall gal with her three little ones clinging to her side:

Fishhook barrel cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Even plant babies know that the best place to get love and food is right there by mama’s side!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos