Category Archives: Inspiration

Thank you!

Inspiration

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Alpha Phi OmegaMany decades ago I was heavily involved with Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity (APO). I had started my involvement as a junior at Texas A&M University. When friends asked me what the difference was between a service fraternity and a social fraternity, I responded,

A service fraternity spends 75% of its time doing volunteer work to help the campus, the community, and the country. The other 25% is spent drinking. A social fraternity spends 75% of its time drinking. The other 25% is spent doing volunteer work to help the campus, the community, and the country.

Always got a chuckle, if not outright laughter.

After college graduation, the extent of my involvement affected both my personal and business lives. Everything in my world came crashing down in 1982 and 1983, and that crash led to my lost decade of 1983-1993.

I quit my job because my boss was a jerk. In hindsight, he wasn’t a jerk. I simply wasn’t interested in my job in any sense other than that it paid my bills and let me play APO. He sensed that. However, I quit my job without having another job lined up.

At the same time, the rent on my apartment jumped $150 a month, to an even $1 a square foot. I had to look at either buying some property in Houston, or moving back to College Station (90 miles northwest of Houston) into property that I already owned but was renting to sorority girls from Delta Delta Delta.

I moved….

Still without having a job….

Also during this time, I was the Chairman for APO’s Section 42, which covered East Texas and comprised 15 or so chapters. It was a one-year position, so I would have to run for re-election to match my predecessors, which I wanted to do.

As I started contemplating running for re-election, students throughout the section told me that I was the best chairman they had ever seen, having shown up at their events more than any other chairman. Everyone encouraged me to run for re-election, and I did.

I lost.

I know why.

Since everyone wanted me to run, I thought they would vote for me. What I forgot to do was to ask them to vote for me and to thank them for their support. I still make the mistake of not asking for what I want or need, and not thanking people enough.

So here’s a great big

Thank you!

to all my friends, family, and business associates for being a part of my life. That includes my many blogging friends for you are a significant part of my family. I love y’all!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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But what is it?

Inspiration

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One of the interesting things that I have noticed during my stompings around San Diego County is the number of impromptu memorials (for lack of a better, or more relevant, term), such as this one:

Impromptu memorial

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I found that near some coastal railroad tracks where I had set up to watch the trains go by.

I was transfixed, mesmerized, inspired by it. It exuded peace and relaxation. Maybe that was its intent.

Is it a memorial? Is it religious? Anyone know?

DaturaThe reason why I ask is because I want to create Photographic Art from that picture but I don’t want to be using a religious symbol or memorial inappropriately. The other thing is that on the back of each Photographic Art print will be some fact/information/trivia about what’s presented in the art. For example, the back of a flower art print might have information about the flower or plant—datura and brugmansia, known as angel’s trumpet and pictured at the right, are toxic and can create severe skin problems if you get the sticky white sap on you. How can something so beautiful be so dangerous?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Leave only footprints

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Many decades ago, when I was but a youth of 12 or 13, my wise old grandmother took me to Padre Island National Seashore in South Texas, about 15 miles due east from my hometown of Kingsville, 60 miles if driving on paved roads.

padre island

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Padre Island was where I first saw a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle. Back then there were hundreds, maybe thousands of them, at certain times of the year.

As I was playing in the sand and surf, I found a mound of flowers. I picked a few to give them to my wise old grandmother.

She took them, said “Thank you!” and then admonished me for picking flowers at the national seashore. Loosely quoted, she said, “No one else will get to enjoy these beautiful flowers because they have been picked and will soon die. It is best to admire them where they grow and leave them for others to also enjoy.”

On the drive home, which was about 45 miles, the flowers sat between us on the bench seat (smile if you remember when cars had bench seats and you could slide over to be next to your loved one or, perhaps, keep some flowers between the two of you).

I felt so bad about picking the flowers and started talking about how sorry I was for taking them and preventing other people from enjoying them. That’s when my wise old grandmother told me something that I have never forgotten: “When you go to a national park, leave only footprints.”

Well, to honor the memory of my wise old grandmother, following are a dozen pictures of footprints from the beaches of San Diego.

Can you identify the footprints, like we did in Scouts?

One picture is of my footprints; which one?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

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Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

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Footprints in the sand

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Footprints in the sand

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Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Footprints in the sand

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Footprints in the sand

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Entitlement

I’m tired from too much thinking

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t take a lot of pictures that make one think. That’s not what I’m trying to do with my photography. However, today, while cataloging old pictures, I found one that made me think:

Entitlement

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t remember taking this picture although I recognize the squirrels and the location. The picture metadata says June 2009.

Obviously I purposefully did not include the person in the photo, and in thinking about the photo, I think it’s a more powerful picture without the person. His highly tattooed arm and his wheelchair makes me think. An injured war vet? If you look closely, he does appear to be wearing fatigues. Homeless since the location is a haven for the homeless? Compassion, sharing what little he has with a little squirrel? Even the little sparrow, looking away from the action, makes me think. Is the poor little sparrow used to being neglected because everyone loves and feeds the squirrels?

Now I’m tired from too much thinking, so it’s off for a catnap with Zoey the Cool Cat.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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James Frimmer, Realtor
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach pier

The Pier

Inspiration

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Poetry always gives me a certain feeling, a certain kind of inspiration.

I love it, then, when I find poetry in unexpected places.

Recently I found poetry on a pier….

….about a pier….

….on and about this pier:

Imperial Beach

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Following is the poetry, but you don’t have to try to read the picture. I have transcribed the poem below the picture.

The Pier, by J. J. Blakely

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Pier

Weathered and worn, dark pillars reach for the rolling sea
Ninety-six years have passed since she came to be
Fisherman’s lines, generations’ casts, pleasantly intertwine
Blue waters, white mist, etched warmly upon our minds

Summer’s breeze flows sweetly past to the shore
White gulls sail free, swooping, diving ever more
Frolicking black seals dip and rise with each Pacific wave
Majestic blue dolphins swiftly glide, leap and splash as they play

With every turn magnificent sights greet our eyes
North to west, and south to east is where they lie
Cabrillo’s house lights for the wayward soul
Loma’s point flashes for those it tolls

Carrier of gray, wings upon her deck, fades to earth’s horizon
Sails of white, blue and red bulge under the day’s sun
Deadman’s Isle, draped in eerie fog, resting his head to the west
Serpent Islands close in, snap at his feet with zest

White capped surf washes upon Playa de Tijuana sands
Bull ring rises by the sea, cheers gone from her stands
Huts of tin and board, poor and destitute masked from afar
Cries for help, for merciful change, fall silently hard

Ocean’s breeze rises upon mountains of sage brush and vine
Otay’s rocky peaks silhouette the eastern sky
Mount Miguel stoically stands watch over the sea
Hills run to the shore, brown hawks graciously soar free

Aroma of lemon trees past linger throughout the land
Cities Chula Vista, National and San Diego spread where they did stand
Blue of bay’s bridge lazily arches, touches Coronado’s coast
Crowns of red brightly sit atop the Del’s royal towers and boast

Strands of silver sand flow, gently caressing my soul
Sea’s waters rushing beneath planks of time, come and go
God’s mighty storms pound and push over the years
Standing strong, unshakable, haven for peace, the pier

J. K. Blakely, November 6, 2005

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The poem describes the many sights and sounds to be experienced from the Imperial Beach pier. Here are a few of the sights, although not necessarily taken from the pier:

Cabrillo’s house IMG_6335

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Carrier of grayUSS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) from the sky

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Playa de TijuanaPlaya de Tijuana

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Blue of bay’s bridge lazily archesSan Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

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Crowns of red brightly sit atop the Del’s royal towersHotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The pierImperial Beach pier

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mylar—Not in this century or the next

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother was a nature lover before tree huggers hit the scene. She was also a conservationist before it was fashionable to be a conservationist. I remember her constant nagging about being kind to wildlife, enjoying the outdoors, conserving our natural resources….. On and on and on.

I didn’t pay much attention when I was living under her roof, but when I set out on my own, it was amazing just how much her teachings influenced what I did and even with whom I hung.

That’s why I’m a big fan of places like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. Have they made mistakes in the past? Sure. We all have. But without Zoos and Aquariums, 99% of the people would never get to see, and appreciate, a giraffe, an elephant, a whale, a dolphin, a tiger or lion…. There would also be many species that now would be extinct without the breeding services that zoos and aquariums offer. The California Condor comes immediately to mind, as does the Northern White Rhinoceros.

Whenever I’m out and about, I always try to visit Zoos and Aquariums to show my support, and I have an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. Along with their breeding and release programs, zoos and aquariums provide rescue services. The number of seals and sea lions rescued each year by SeaWorld is amazing. One could argue that if the mom is going to abandon her pup, there must be a good reason. Maybe there is, but I’ll go with SeaWorld on that one—rescue, rehabilitate, and release.

Without the programs of the Zoo and SeaWorld, I never would have had the privilege of seeing a Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a Milky Eagle Owl, or an Orca Whale.

Bald eagle at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Golden eagle Ambassador at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

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Milky Eagle Owl

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Dining with Shamu at SeaWorld

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In all my travels, I have never seen those four species outside of a Zoo or Aquarium. Of course, I know they exist in the wild, and I had an appreciation for them without seeing them because of how my wise old grandmother raised me. I don’t have to see something to know it, to understand it, to understand why it’s disappearing. Many people do, though. Every time I go to the Zoo or SeaWorld, I hear at least one person, often many many more, say in awe, “I had no idea they were so beautiful” or “I had no idea they were endangered because of us.” Those people, I hope, go home with a greater understanding of this world we live on and how we need to share it with the plants and animals around us.

As an example, recently I was up in Orange County traipsing around when I found the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

20612 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, California

Location map

View Larger Map

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The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is responsible for animals (mostly pinnipeds) stranded on beaches along the Orange County coast, extending north to Seal Beach and south to San Onofre. The majority of the pinnipeds rescued are severely malnourished, suffer from dehydration, and may have respiratory infections. They also treat animals that are affected by drift net entanglement, fishing lines and hooks, human inflicted injuries, shark bites, parasites, and various diseases.

The most common pinnipeds to Southern California are Northern Elephant Seals, Pacific Harbor Seals, and California Sea Lions. Occasionally, they treat Northern Fur Seals, and they are the only temporary holding facility for small whales and dolphins between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

California sea lion

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California sea lion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Invariably when I visit the Zoo, SeaWorld, or, in this case, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, I learn something new. For example, here is what I learned during my short visit to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center:

Mylar Bouquet Wall of Shame

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Mylar Bouquet Wall of Shame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have always loved Mylar balloons, but no more.

They are off my LIKE  list and onto my NOT-IN-THIS-CENTURY-OR-THE-NEXT list.

I hope you will join me in my quest to celebrate special occasions with something other than Mylar balloons. A good meal, flowers, and toys come to mind. Maybe even just some quality time spent with those you love and are celebrating with.

Sunflower and clouds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Life is a journey, not a destination

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One thing that my wise old grandmother often said, and something that I remember and practice to this day, is that “Life is a journey, not a destination. There will be hills and dales, ups and downs. Enjoy the journey.”

Zoey the Cool CatSince July 13, I have been recovering from a multitude of computer problems relating to viruses, malware, and just plain bad people trying to cause problems. While they succeeded for a while, I seem to be holding them at bay right now. All of this, though, is just part of life. Some might say that this part of the journey is not enjoyable, and my initial thought is to agree. However, during these times of bad people gaining control of my computers, I have learned a lot about them, their means, viruses, and malware. Therein lies the enjoyable part of the journey….knowledge.

As I have been going through old files that were infected and deleting the infection, I have also been reviewing those old files, chunking those that are no longer of any use to me and cataloging those that are.

One file that I found I will share with you here. I have no idea where the file came from, but it reminds me greatly of my wise old grandmother and her profound words of wisdom.

We convince ourselves that life will be better
after we get married, have a baby, then another.
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough
and we’ll be more content when they are.
After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with.
We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete
when our spouse gets his or her act together,
when we get a nicer car,
are able to go on a nice vacation,
when we retire.

The truth is,
there’s no better time to be happy than right now.
If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges.
It’s best to admit this to yourself
and decide to be happy anyway.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D. Souza. He said,

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin,
real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way,
something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business,
time still to be served,
or a debt to be paid.
Then life would begin.

“At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness.
Happiness is the way.

“So treasure every moment you have
and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special,
special enough to spend your time with,
and remember that time waits for no one.
So stop waiting until you finish school,
until you go back to school,
until you lose ten pounds,
until you gain ten pounds,
until you have kids,
until your kids leave the house,
until you start work,
until you retire,
until you get married,
until you get divorced,
until Friday night,
until Sunday morning,
until you get a new car or home,
until your car or home is paid off,
until spring,
until summer,
until fall,
until winter,
until you are off welfare,
until the first or fifteenth,
until your song comes on,
until you’ve had a drink,
until you’ve sobered up,
until you are born again
to decide that there is no better time
than right now to be happy.

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”

I believe that if my wise old grandmother were here right now, she would be nodding her head in agreement.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool CatZoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day, so Zoey the Cool Cat wanted me to share the story of how she came to be Queen of this house.

On Thanksgiving day of 2006, a feral black cat strayed into my yard. It looked at me with sorrowful eyes, seeming to ask, “Do you have any food and water for me?” I put out some milk. While it was drinking, I rushed down to the corner store to get a small can of cat food. When I got back, the milk was gone but the cat was still there. I put the cat food on a plate and set it as close to the cat as I could get. Within minutes the food was gone and black cat (hereafter, BC) went to sit on a fence post.

Sophie on fence

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Unfortunately, minutes after eating, BC was gone, too. Never saw it again…..

…..until Christmas Eve.

Hmmm. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. I thought black cats only celebrated Halloween….

I put out some water (I think it was my mother-in-law who told me not to give cats milk) and rushed down to the corner store again to get another can of cat food.

Sophie the Black Cat

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This time I bought three cans, thinking that the cat might come around more often than once a month. And if this cat celebrated holidays by coming to my place, well, Christmas was tomorrow and New Year’s Eve and Day were just a week away….

I put a plate of cat food out. BC ate the food, drank the water, and….

….collapsed on the asphalt to rest before eventually sheltering itself under a bush:

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the black cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BC stayed for a couple of hours, but as soon as the sun went down, BC was gone. Hunters must hunt.

Bright and early the next morning, BC was back. Yahooooooooooooooooooooo!

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother, who had adopted a few billion feral cats (we called them “alley cats”) during her lifetime, many of them tripods, always told me that if you feed a cat, the cat is yours. At the time I didn’t know if that meant that I owned the cat because I had spent money on it, or if the cat owned me because it approved of my actions. I now know it’s the latter.

I became BC’s new Chief of Staff.

We were able to determine that BC was a she, so Jim named her Sophie. She became part of our lives, eventually making it into and through the garage and taking over our home office.

Sophie the Black Cat

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Each day Sophie would present to me a gift from her hunting expedition. Mostly lizards and gophers, I felt like they were especially for me. I didn’t mind losing a few gophers to this skilled hunter, but I really liked my lizards…………..

Mr. Lizard, Zoey the Cool Cat's new little friend

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Alas, I figured that if Sophie could catch them, then there must be too many of them. Population control and all that. Never really convinced myself of that, so I tried instead to believe that losing the lizards was a tradeoff for getting rid of the gophers. Never really convinced myself of that, either.

One day Sophie brought me a hummingbird. That really broke my heart, so I thought I would try to convert her into an indoor cat. It looked like I was succeeding.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

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See how she’s winking at me? I now believe she was thinking, “This guy’s cool, and I’ll make him think that he’s converting me so he’ll keep giving me food, but I’ll never be 100% an indoor cat. Too many lizards and gophers in this world…..”

We moved just six months later, and we brought Sophie with us. She enjoyed exploring the new place, inside and out.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whenever I was outside gardening or watering, Sophie was right there with me. She would follow me around wherever I went. Reminded me of a dog. I would run from her but she stayed right with me. If I was successful at hiding from her while she was occupied chasing a bug, she was equally successful in quickly finding me. At the new digs, she used to follow me down to the swimming pool; the neighbors thought it was funny.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

She dared not come too near the water, though, preferring to hang out at the barbecue pits or play in the trees, all the while keeping an eye on me.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was fairly successful at converting Sophie into an indoor cat…………

………….during the day.

At night, she just had to go outside. She would meow and sometimes even howl like a coyote until I let her out. However, she would always come back between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m., meowing and scratching at the office window until I woke up and let her in.

Sadly, on September 20, 2007, just six months after moving, Sophie was hit and killed by a car a block over. The street where she was killed was asphalt and unlit; cars liked to turn the corner and zoom down the street. Being caught in the street and blinded by bright car lights meant that Sophie didn’t have a chance. A neighbor found her body, placed it up on the curb under some bushes, removed her tag, and called me.

I had known something was wrong that morning because Sophie was late coming back. The neighbor called just after 8:00. I went to retrieve Sophie’s body and buried her near where she and I originally had met.

That afternoon Jim and I we went to the El Cajon Animal Shelter to adopt a cat, a 100% indoor cat—I decided I never wanted to go through a loss like that again. We found several that we liked but chose an American shorthair with ginger tabby coloring. Unfortunately she wasn’t available for adoption until 10:00 the next morning. Going a whole evening/night/early morning without a cat was tough. We were at the animal shelter promptly at 10:00 the next morning to make sure that we came home with Zoey the Cool Cat.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Her name at the El Cajon Animal Shelter had been Zoey, and we decided to let her keep that name. After just six hours in our home, though, I added “the Cool Cat” to her name, all because of this picture:

chairs-19-500 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In memory of Sophie the Black CatCat drawing

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Zoey the Cool Cat approves this post.This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Second Chance Dog Rescue of San Diego

Inspiration

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Last month I took Jim out after dark to Ray At Night, an arts event that happens in North Park on the second Saturday of the month during the summer.

Ray At Night in North Park, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

We saw lots of artsy stuff that we would like to have, might even have bought if our home wasn’t already full of stuff.

One of the vendor booths was occupied by Second Chance Dog Rescue. They had the cutest little bulldog puppy named Bulldozer. I could have stood there all night long and watched that little fellow, wondering why such a little cutie needed a Second Chance. He should have been long gone to a forever home way before his First Chance was up. I thought I had a picture of Bulldozer, perhaps even a video, but I don’t; sad and depressed am I. Bulldozer apparently has been adopted because he’s no longer on their web site.

The next day I completed a volunteer application for Second Chance Dog Rescue. I’m scheduled to go to a 2½-hour Volunteer Organization this coming Saturday. I’m excited.

I grew up with many dogs in my youth, the first of which was an alley mutt named Bosco. Bosco would always greet me when I came home from school. One day he was not there. Never saw him again, and it was heartbreaking for a young boy to lose his dog and not know what happened to it. After that we had a Welsh Corgi, an indoor dog, named Bougher. He was a riot. We only had him about six months before I graduated from high school and took off to………..

………Texas A&M University, where I was petless for four years. It was another three years of living in Houston after A&M before I got another pet. In fact, two pets. I adopted a pair of male Beagle puppies, naming them Union and Pacific after the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1983, when I moved from Houston to College Station — 90 miles — I had to give up Union and Pacific because I couldn’t find a place to stay in College Station that allowed dogs.

Penney and SugarOnce I was resettled in College Station, I got two dogs: Sugar was a Basenji/Chow Chow mix, and Penney was a long-haired dachshund.

I had adopted Sugar from the Bryan/College Station animal shelter. Sugar hated it when I left home, and one day as I was putting my motorcycle helmet on, she jumped up on the back seat. That gave me an idea, and I took her for a ride around the neighborhood. Ultimately, she rode with me just about everywhere while sitting on the back seat without a seat belt or a helmet. We went from College Station to Houston, Waco, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas many times, all without an incident or any problems. She was my motorcycle mama.

Sugar the motorcycle riding dogPenney was a different kind of rescue dog. One of my good friends had one of Penney’s litter siblings and brought to my attention the plight of that litter. The puppies belonged to a Chinese couple who were going to eat them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Chinese couple didn’t think anything about eating dog, but everyone in the neighborhood were trying to get the dogs adopted and get the Chinese couple acclimated to the American way of life. Poor Penney was tied up on a short chain behind the washer and dryer in the garage. Never got any exercise or love.

Sadly, Penney had been spayed too early — early spaying apparently helps fatten up dogs — and she became incontinent at about 1½ years of age. Vets were not able to solve Penney’s problem so I gave her up to the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine so they could work with her at no cost to me to try to understand incontinence in dogs at such a young age. My hope was that the Vet School would learn something that would be useful to vets throughout the world in managing such a problem.

I’m spent much of my life volunteering to help animals and those less fortunate than me, beginning with Key Club in high school and Alpha Phi Omega National Co-ed Service Fraternity at Texas A&M University. I have volunteered with the ASPCA, local animal shelters, and gone out to help rescue pets, livestock, and wildlife after hurricanes, tornados, and floods in Texas, and wildfires here in San Diego. I have volunteered with Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Heart Association, community arts organizations like the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera. I sang with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego and got to do a lot of volunteer work while with those organizations.

There have been times when I haven’t been a volunteer, and I always felt incomplete during those times. I think volunteering with Second Chance Dog Rescue will add a lot to my life, and I hope I can add a lot to the lives of our fine, furry, four-legged canine friends.

Visit Second Chance Dog Rescue at their web site.

No, I won’t be adopting or fostering a dog. Zoey the Cool Cat is as much as I can handle. Yes, Zoey the Cool Cat is a rescue cat from the El Cajon Animal Shelter. If you’re looking for a dog or cat, please adopt from a reputable organization or an animal shelter.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Piggy bank

Just for the halibut

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A couple of days ago Jim and I went to eat at Souplantation, one of our favorite restaurants for when I don’t want to cook (and Jim’s NOT a cook), we want lots of food, and we want food inexpensively. An all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is $8.99 and the dinner buffet is $10.99. And yet I remember when I first at a Souplantation back in 1993. Lunch buffet was $2.49 and dinner buffet was $3.99. Oh, well, at least their employees tend to stick around for a long time, probably because they make a decent wage and perhaps even have health insurance, a 401(k), etc.

This past Sunday Jim and I got ambitious and decided to go to a Souplantation that is about ten miles from us (the one we normally go to is just two miles from us). When we parked, I was able to get this picture:

Just for the Halibut

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One would think that a place with such a name is obviously a seafood restaurant.

Not so fast there, Tonto.

It’s not.

However, I’m not going to tell you what it is, either.

I’ll let you guess.

Once you’ve registered your guess, you can…..

scroll

scroll

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scroll

scroll

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and

scroll

to find this:

Just for the Halibut

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s a paper, card, and gift store!

They apparently don’t have a web site, which I find somewhat surprising but, considering what they sell, not totally surprising. While searching for that web site, though, I came upon some reviews at Yelp and Yellowpages. I thought this one was the best:

This is a darling store that has the cutest stuff in it. They are things that we totally don’t need, but want to buy because it’s too cute. It reminds me of a gift store you’d find in Monterrey [sic], CA.”

Having been to Monterey (only one “R”), I completely understand. I love little gift shops that have the cutest stuff in them that I totally don’t need but buy anyway because they are too cute. I can also say that cute stuff makes nice little gifts for family, friends, and co-workers, especially for that awkward moment when you become the Secret Santa to a co-worker whom you don’t particularly care for………..lol

I suppose you’re wondering what kind of too cute things I bought. Well, I got two piggy banks.

Piggy bank

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Piggy bank

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Piggy bank

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Have you tried finding nice piggy banks in today’s world? I used to give piggy banks to people who recently had a baby but two things happened: (1) Piggy banks became scarce, and (2) friends having babies became scarce. Nonetheless, now I have two piggy banks for those unexpected moments when a neighbor or a Client has a baby!

Just for the Halibut (and Souplantation) are located at 3960 West Point Loma Boulevard:

Just for the Halibut map

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos