Category Archives: Inspiration

Lend a hand—49 things you can do to make a difference

Inspiration

For those who continue to rant about things over which you have no control, I would suggest getting out in your community and volunteering.

Scott #2039 VoluntarismMy life has been full of volunteerism, so much so that too often I let the unpaid volunteer job interfere with the paid professional job. I started with Key Club in high school, then Alpha Phi Omega National Co-ed Service Fraternity at Texas A&M University, and then to Red Cross, American Heart Association, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and many, many others.

Following are 50 things you can do to help the world. I have done them all at some point in my life. Don’t let your ego get in the way of contributing to your neighborhood and city. Keep in mind that businesses have liability concerns, so the type of services that you’re allowed to volunteer for might be limited in some circumstances.

  1. Scott #1788 Special OlympicsPick a charity and volunteer or donate. Even big charities depend heavily on volunteers and donations, charities such as American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, AmeriCorps, 4-H, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Red Cross, Special Olympics, United Way.
  2. Volunteer at 1-800-Volunteer.org or Volunteers of America.
  3. Adopt a block in your neighborhood. Pick up the trash and pull the weeds growing in the sidewalk cracks.
  4. Scott #1425 Blood DonorVolunteer at your local blood bank or give blood. I’m a 10-gallon blood donor. It would be more but blood centers still discriminate against gay people, and I refuse to lie to them or go back in the closet in order to donate.
  5. Take a group of neighborhood children some place that’s free. Many of our museums here in San Diego are free on the first Tuesday of each month…. Or have a children’s hour. You can play games, tell stories, read books….
  6. Be a tutor for youth in your neighborhood.
  7. Scott #4454 Adopt a shelter petVolunteer at your local animal shelter, donate to the ASPCA, adopt a pet from the animal shelter, or be a foster home for a pet in need.
  8. Go to your favorite small business and ask if they can use your help for an hour. It might just be sweeping the floor, cleaning the windows, or taking out the trash, but what you do will free up their employees to help their customers.
  9. Clean your home and donate things that you haven’t used in six months to charitable organizations…. or have a neighborhood yard sale and donate the money to charitable organizations.
  10. Scott #2162 Big Brothers & Big SistersVolunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts.
  11. Volunteer at your local library, museum, park, school, or church.
  12. Volunteer at your public television station.
  13. Whatever your area of expertise, offer a seminar on that topic for your neighbors.
  14. Get a group of four or five people together and go throughout your neighborhood doing minor tasks for home owners, like painting the house or fence, or trimming trees and pulling weeds.
  15. Jacaranda in San Diego, CaliforniaPlant a tree or flower…. on someone else’s property!
  16. Volunteer at a Battered Women and Children facility, a homeless shelter, or a soup kitchen.
  17. Volunteer at an HIV/AIDS facility.
  18. Volunteer at a crisis counseling or cancer support facility.
  19. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels.
  20. Volunteer for your local disability services or an adult day care facility.
  21. Scott #2160 YMCA Youth CampingVolunteer at your YMCA or YWCA.
  22. Volunteer at a substance abuse facility or a troubled youth support center.
  23. Volunteer at a justice and legal support center.
  24. Volunteer at a Jewish or a Gay & Lesbian community center.
  25. Volunteer at a job fair.
  26. Volunteer at your local political party headquarters, a politician’s office, or a political action committee.
  27. Scott #1440 Historic PreservationVolunteer at your local historical society.
  28. Volunteer at your local police or fire department.
  29. Volunteer at an assisted living residence. Find out who’s the oldest person in your city or neighborhood. Interview that person about his or her life, type it up, and donate it to your local historical society or library.
  30. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
  31. Volunteer at the court house.
  32. Volunteer at your local community college.
  33. Scott #3159 Arthur FiedlerVolunteer with your opera or symphony society.
  34. Take part in medical research if available in your community.
  35. Volunteer at a mental health facility.
  36. Volunteer with your local fitness council.
  37. Sponsor a high school club or organization.
  38. Volunteer with Path of Life Ministries or your local Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  39. Be a reader for recording books for the blind and dyslexic.
  40. Volunteer with Ronald McDonald House or Planned Parenthood.
  41. Teach a course at your local home improvement store or community college.
  42. Volunteer at your city’s visitor’s bureau.
  43. Volunteer at your local food bank or thrift store.
  44. Volunteer with your local animal rescue organization.
  45. Scott #2015 America's LibrariesCheck out a book from your local library. Many library budgets are based on library usage.
  46. Volunteer with your local Better Business Bureau.
  47. Dine out at a small mom & pop restaurant. It helps the economy by creating or supporting jobs.
  48. Volunteer with your local Audubon Society.
  49. Volunteer with Junior Achievement.

Some of those might require you to get out of your comfort zone. That’s their purpose! Especially in communities that appear homogeneous, there are people who feel out of place or are otherwise depressed. By being active in your community, you just might be able to “friend” that person and prevent depression, grief, and even death, even though you might never know it.

Kay Hairgrove KrenekToday’s post is dedicated to a long-time friend by the name of Kay Hairgrove Krenek. Kay was a member of Alpha Phi Omega at Texas Tech University; I met her in 1978. She is married to Wilfred Krenek, another long-time friend, whom I met in 1976. Wilfred was a member of Alpha Phi Omega at the University of Texas and is a past National President of Alpha Phi Omega. How three people from arch-rival schools got together is beyond me…. Wait! Alpha Phi Omega!

Alpha Phi OmegaEach year for the Fall pledge classes nationwide, Alpha Phi Omega chooses a distinguished member and names the Fall pledge classes after that person. The Fall 2014 pledge classes have been named the Kay Krenek Fall 2014 National Pledge Class. Kay has a Facebook page to keep in touch with all the pledge classes nationwide, but anyone can like it, so if you feel so inclined, go like it.

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

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It’s cute and adorable

Picture of the Moment

It’s no secret that most people put seagulls into categories such as “common bird,” “pesky bird,” “irritating bird,” “noisy bird,” and “go away bird.” Maybe others that I’m not familiar with.

When I went up to La Jolla recently to see Hillary Clinton, I spent some time walking around taking pictures. It’s a beautiful area, as you can see here:

La Jolla Cove panorama, La Jolla, California

Sunset at La Jolla Cove, 10-17-12, La Jolla, California

Sunset at La Jolla Cove, 10-17-12, La Jolla, California

I came across a seagull which obviously was on a nest:

Seagull on a nest

I didn’t want to disturb it but I was hoping that it would stand up and let me see the egg since I have never seen a seagull egg.

I found a large rock to sit on, about four feet from it, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat…. all the while encouraging it to stand up and take a break so I could see the egg.

After what seemed like forever, it obliged.

Seagull egg

Several other gulls came over while it was standing….

not sure what that was about….

but it left the egg in my care and went to chase the other gulls off.

Seagull egg

After a couple of minutes, it came back, thanked me for taking care of its egg, and went back to work.

Seagull on a nest

I left by a different route from which I had come in, and saw a result of all the hard work those seagulls do:

Seagull chick

Aren’t they cute? Do you see the second chick sitting in the foreground?

They look like the spots from the eggs rubbed off on them.

Moral of this post: Take time to enjoy all that is around you, even the common stuff, because sometimes it’s so cute and adorable.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Featuring the Rock Ants Lonely Hearts Club Band

Did you know?

Remember when I went out to those fabulous gardens called Bird Song? Here’s the post: Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance

Remember the rock ants? Looked like this:

Bird Song rock ants

Bird Song rock ants

Remember the other garden sculptures? Like this lizard and scorpion:

Bird Song lizard

Bird Song scorpion

All made with rocks!

Well, when I was at the San Diego County Fair, which ended this past Sunday,

(the online attendance counter has been removed, but I took a screen shot of it before they removed it! 1,457,130 people attended, making it the second highest attended Fair ever!)

I was traipsing through the many gardens when I caught sight of this:

Rock Ants

I hurried over to see if Rock Ants were what I thought they might be. Indeed they were! They have rock scorpions, rock lizards, rock peacocks, rock ants, rock cats, and more!

Here is the Rock Ants Lonely Hearts Club Band playing, I’m sure, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles since we were at The Fab Fair honoring The Fab Four’s 50th anniversary of their first visit to the United States:

 The Rock Ant Band

Here’s a rock cat:

Rock Cat

If you want some interesting and unique ornaments for your garden—or anywhere else!—consider rock art by Rock Ants! Tell them Russel Ray sent you their way. Maybe they’ll give me a free Rock Band if enough people buy from them via me! Hint, hint.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance

Out & About

I belong to several meetup.com groups which give me the opportunity to meet people, and to do new and different things. Probably the best meetup.com group I belong to is the Pacific Photographic Society. As of this very minute (which will be a minute in the past by the time you read this), we have 1,423 members.

Last Wednesday, being a member got me into a private garden to walk around, admire, and take pictures. This wasn’t just any garden, though. The owners have been there since 1978, spending 36 years creating a fairy tale garden of beauty and whimsy. They call it Bird Song.

I took 105 pictures in just 65 minutes, a little under my average per minute, but I had to take time to dance like a fairy.

Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance

I never did find a good vantage point to take a picture of the house. The following is the best I got, and it’s a photomerge of four photos:

Bird Song

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

We were invited to walk around at our own leisurely pace or join a tour led by the master creator of the gardens. I decided to walk around, albeit at a faster pace—I have found that being first allows me to get more pictures since I don’t have to wait my turn while others take their pictures.

Following is a collection of Photographic Art based on pictures of Bird Song. They don’t do justice to the gardens but they do show you some of the fantasy, whimsy, imagination, fun, and fairy tales of these beautiful gardens.

First up are some of the plants, for to be a garden, there must be plants!

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song plants

Bird Song

There was a pond with koi, a beautiful spa, and a water fall, which won me over. Listening to running water is so relaxing.

Bird Song waterfall

The best part of the gardens for me was the imagination and fantasy that was on display. These rock ants were awesome:

Bird Song rock ants

Bird Song rock ants

The wildlife was everywhere, not surprising for such beautiful gardens.

Bird Song frog

Bird Song frog

Bird Song frog

Bird Song lizard

Bird Song cat

Bird Song covey of quail

Bird Song fish

Bird Song goat

Bird Song snail

Bird Song  butterflies

Bird Song bird

Picture opportunities were here, there, and everywhere.

Bird Song bottles

Bird Song

Bird Song birdhouse

Bird Song  bench and pillows

Bird Song  stairs

Bird Song

Bird Song

Bird Song

Sometimes the plants helped complete the fantasy, as with the “hair” in these two Photographic Art:

Bird Song

Bird Song

Alice and her cohorts were present in their own Wonderland.

Bird Song

Bird Song

I am a home inspector in one of my professions, so the propane tank caught my attention, ranking as the most beautiful propane tank ever!

Bird Song propane tank

As I was rushing to leave, I saw one final picture opportunity at the gate:

Bird Song

I have known about Bird Song for a couple of decades now but have never had the opportunity to visit. Thus, I would be remiss if I did not thank the Pacific Photographic Society and Maxine Hesse for making it possible. Of course, a special thanks to Frank and Susan Oddo for letting 28 photographers traipse around their gardens for a few hours. The memories will last much longer than the experience itself.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

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I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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Blog Love (6-8-14)

I livew in my own little world

AzaleaIf you missed my initial post about Blog Love, you can read it here. If you get mentioned in my Blog Love series, it’s a sure bet that I’m following YOU!

During these past two weeks, I visited 1266 blogs, an average of 90 per day. I’m caught up with my blog visits after my Internet Explorer/WordPress problems of January, February, and March 2014, and I’m pleased to say that I only found 11 blogs that had been deleted, were inactive, or had gone private! They were deleted from my Excel spreadsheet.

Purple RoseI left 1,766 LIKEs and 313 comments, both totals down from recent blog love posts because every blog  that I visited these past two weeks are blogs that I had last visited sometime after March 27 when my blog camping problems were resolved.

The blogs where I left at least ten LIKEs and/or comments are listed below. Those bloggers who post pictures with very little text to read get the most LIKEs and comments, so it’s not unusual to find pet blogs and photography blogs high on the Blog Love list each week.

Canna and agapanthusClick on the link to go visit them, and be sure to tell them that Russel Ray sent you their way!

  1. Peace, Love, and Great Country Music – 56
  2. K’ Clips – 49 (Google翻訳のおかげ!)
  3. Old Books, Old Artists, and Other Interesting People – 40
    Fictional Machines – 40
  4. imaginecontinua – 39
  5. NJ Corporate Photographer – 38
  6. Paula Acton – 34
  7. The (Urban-Wildlife) Interface – 31
    Hello World – 31
    It’s Sew Anny – 31
  8. The Phoblography – 23
  9. Random Rose’s Blog – 22
    buffalotompeabody’s Blog – 22
  10. Lily of the NileBucket List Publications – 18
    Drawing Room Days – 18
  11. The Reading Bud – 17
    Adventures in Cheeseland – 17
  12. Nature and Travel Photography – 14
    Dean Whitehorn – 14
    Marsha Lee – 14
    Thoughts from an American Woman – 14
  13. Kev’s Blog – 13
  14. Gaston Bessette, Photographie – 12
  15. The Wine Wankers – 11
    ABIRDINTHEBANKSIA – 11
  16. The Paws N Reflect Blog – 10

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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Picture of the Moment–I want one!

Picture of the Moment

Yesterday, Jim and I went to the Spring fundraiser for Cat House on the Kings in Parlier, California, a suburb of Fresno.

Cat House on the Kings

View on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Cat House” is not just a cute name.

It’s a reality.

Here is the sofa in the living room.

Cat Couch

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I want one.

“One of what?” you ask.

Possible answers:

  1. One of those cats.
  2. A sofa with nine cat adornments.
  3. A cat house.
  4. a Cat House.

It’s never too late to donate to your local animal shelter to help with their expenses, or to adopt one of their residents. You can also adopt from Cat House on the Kings or donate to help defray their expenses in providing for their 700+ cats, a dozen dogs, and a handful of goats (cash; cat, dog or webcam sponsorship; items from their Amazon wish list; and more!).

And now, a message from Zoey the Cool Cat:

Adopt a dog or cat today

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

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

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

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

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos