Category Archives: My wise old grandmother

“The Cemetery” at Mission San Antonio de Pala

Out & About

Cemeteries have always fascinated me. Nonetheless, I have only been to two funerals in my life, that of my granddad who died in 1978 when I was 23, and that of my best friend who died in 1989. I didn’t even get to go to my wise old grandmother’s funeral in 2003 because my three uncles threatened me with violence, one stating that he “didn’t know what might happen” if I went. Since he had more weapons than the United States Army, I decided to stay away.

San Diego is the only place that has two national cemeteries—Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (picture ▼) and Miramar National Cemetery—and Southern California is the only region that has three of them, with Riverside National Cemetery about 60 miles from me. My husband’s dad is interred at Riverside National Cemetery.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I find national cemeteries to be kind of dull, boring, and uninteresting due to their monotonous conformity.

However, they always seem to be located in beautiful places.

I think the most interesting cemeteries I ever visited were in New Orleans; those are what I call cemeteries.

We don’t seem to have a lot of cemeteries here in San Diego, but while out and about a couple of weeks ago I discovered “The Cemetery”:

The Cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala, Pala California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Located at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California, founded in 1816 to convert the native Indians to Catholicism, The Cemetery is the original Mission cemetery and claims to hold the remains of hundreds of Native American converts to Catholicism, as well as other early California pioneers.

If The Cemetery holds hundreds of remains, they are not well marked after all these years, or they were buried in a mass grave.

Actually, while researching this post, I discovered that the cemetery is also known as the “Old Luiseño Cemetery,” named after the tribe of Indians the Mission had served. Graves typically were marked by wooden crosses, a great supermajority of which have fallen, deteriorated, or been misplaced.

Over at Interment.net, I found a partial list of those interred in the cemetery.

There might have been about twenty grave markers in The Cemetery. Here are some that I found interesting:

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t think this last one is a grave marker unless it’s a place holder for all those grave markers that aren’t there anymore.

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Imagine my surprise 49 years later

My wise old grandmother

I came to San Diego in April 1993 via a circuitous route that started in College Station, Texas, took me north to Fargo, North Dakota, west to Seattle, Washington, and then south to San Diego. I wasn’t really looking for a place to live. Rather, I was looking for a place to kill myself. All because of my sexual orientation and how being gay was perceived in Texas and in the Mormon and Catholic religions in which I had been raised.

I don’t know into which religion I was born, but my mom’s side of the family were Mormons and dad’s side were Catholics. For many years I wondered how they ever got together. Then I put two and two together and got four, realizing that my oldest brother was born a couple months shy of nine months after my parents had married. The old Texas-style shotgun wedding….

When my dad killed himself in 1961, my mom moved us to Brigham City, Utah, to be closer to her side of the family. Four years later, and I was back in Kingsville, Texas, living with my wise old grandmother. She had adopted me out of the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah, where I had been placed because I was such a juvenile delinquent.

St Gertrude Catholic Church in Kingsville TexasShortly after being adopted, I was baptized and confirmed in St. Gertrude Catholic Church (picture ►). After my confirmation in 1966, my wise old grandmother bought me a remembrance gift from the church gift store. It was a picture of the face of Jesus Christ on cloth. I now know that my picture was of a monotype on cloth called “The Peace of the Resurrection” and was done in 1955 (my birth year!) by Raul Anguiano, a famous Mexican artist.

Inquiring minds might want to know how I know that. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was at the Pala Indian Reservation teaching chess to students at their elementary school, the Vivian Banks Charter School. The school happens to be located in the historic Mission San Antonio de Pala, a Catholic mission founded in 1816.

Mission San Antonio de Pala

Vivian Banks Charter School in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since I was unfamiliar with the territory, I got there very early. My intent, though, was actually to explore the historic mission grounds, take pictures, and visit the museum.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into one of the museum rooms and found my picture of Jesus Christ hanging on the wall. Not just any picture, though. It was the original picture on cloth! Looked like this:

The Peace of the Resurrection by Raul Anguiano at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The paper attached to the frame informs us that it is the

“Original monotype by Anguiano,
a famous Mexican artist, in 1955.”

It is titled “The Peace of the Resurrection”

José Raúl Anguiano Valadez (February 26, 1915 – January 13, 2006) was part of the “second generation” of Mexican muralists continuing in the tradition of Diego Rivera and José Orozco, two names with which I am familiar. Anguiano was born during the height of the Mexican Revolution, which inspired a lot of his murals and paintings.

I always liked that picture because even though the face’s eyelids are closed, there appear to be eyeballs staring out at you from behind the eyelids, and they seem to follow you around the room as you move about.

I took my picture with me when I went off to college at Texas A&M University. It got left behind in Texas in April 1993 and I never recovered it after deciding to spend my life in San Diego.

It was pretty neat to find the original so close to where I live now but 49 years later.

The Peace of the Resurrection by Raul Anguiano at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Comes to an end

My wise old grandmother

I am making progress on creating an online store at RusselRayPhotos.com. However, in doing that, I have made the decision to shut down MyWiseOldGrandmother.com because those two sites (and a couple of others which also will be shut down) share the same account at the same host. I am not yet ready to spend buckets of money on additional storage space for Photographic Art, and since I haven’t done anything with MyWiseOldGrandmother.com in seven years…. It comes to an end.

I originally put a lot of work into MyWiseOldGrandmother.com, so I’m not willing to just throw it all away. Thus, I’ll be bringing the more interesting stuff over here to share with you!

I hope you will spend some time with the elderly in your life so we don’t lose what they have to offer. Talk with them, write down their stories, record their stories, take pictures, and share everything with others!

Morning gloryMy wise old grandmother’s name was May Agnes Kirk. She was my paternal grandmother and adopted me in December 1965 when she was almost 55 years old and I was a juvenile delinquent three months shy of 11. The morning glory was her favorite flower, opening bright and early each morning and, as the day wore on, slowly closing and going to bed.

My wise old grandmother taught me a lot with her love of life; her knowledge about life, which came from the “school of hard knocks” (she had only a first-grade education), her wonderful words of wisdom, which I typed and put in my notebook; and her love of nature, of which cats, dogs, birds, and gardening were most prominent.

BootsShe had a particular fondness for neglected, injured, or mistreated animals, and we were always adopting dogs and cats from the alley behind our house. She is the reason why I recent decided to sponsor Boots (picture ►), a special needs kitty, at Cat House on the Kings. Read more about Boots here: Meet Boots!

Her other fondness was for music, and me playing both the piano and the violin, as well as being a singer, might have given her hope that she could make someone out of me.

Piano and violin

My original mission for MyWiseOldGrandmother.com was to bring something positive to the world, represented by the positive and beautiful words of knowledge and wisdom conveyed to me by my wise old grandmother. Her spirit lives on although her web site won’t, but maybe something in those pages that I bring over here might provide someone with inspiration, hope, or a smile.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

What comes out of the camera….

My wise old grandmother

When I was living in Utah with my mom, stepdad, and six other children, we rarely ate as a family at the table. In fact, in thinking back on those three years, I can’t ever remember us eating together as a family. That might explain why I stole so much food from the Food King right across the street. My friends were stealing toys; I was stealing food.

When my wise old grandmother adopted me, my youngest uncle (we’ll call him Doug since that was his name) was still living at home. Although he was in college, he knew that if he wanted to eat, supper was served at the dining room table at 6:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch usually were served at the kitchen bar since everyone had different schedules for the day. But if you missed supper at the dining room table at 6:00 p.m., you pretty much starved until the next morning. It only took twice to realize that my wise old grandmother was serious….

After breakfast and through mid-afternoon, the dining room table belonged to my wise old grandmother. She would cut out patterns for the clothes she made, write letters to family and friends, read the newspaper, and, most important to her, put together her scrapbooks and photo albums.

Doug always found it funny how my wise old grandmother would create her scrapbooks and photo albums because there wasn’t a full-size picture in any of them. All of her pictures got cropped to meet a specific purpose that she had in mind. Cropping back in those days meant using the scissors to cut away parts that weren’t needed, and sometimes to cut out a person, a car, or a building.

Doug constantly was making fun of her but she never backed down. She knew what she wanted, she knew what she had to do to create what she wanted, and that was that!

Probably my favorite words of wisdom from my wise old grandmother are words that I have been using and practicing for at least forty years:

What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.

In today’s world, Photoshop is our scissors and our lightroom. No need to make a mess on the dining room table or get sick inhaling all the chemical smells in the lightroom. Just make a plate of nachos, grab a beer, put the cat on your lap, open Photoshop, and get started.

I am always after better or more time-saving ways to work in Photoshop, so I check out new software that comes on the market. Recently one of my favorite software companies, Topaz Labs, released a new plug-in for Photoshop, Topaz Restyle.

Following is a picture of the La Casa Estudillo Museum in Old Town. You’ll see and read more about it in an upcoming blog post, probably Saturday.

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That actually is a panorama comprised of six individual pictures, photomerged in Photoshop. I find it perfectly acceptable, but then I remembered the new Topaz Restyle software that I had just bought and had to go mess around some. I got a lot of interesting pictures but I liked this one the best:

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The original picture was taken at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2014. The Topaz Restyle picture also was taken at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2014, since they are the same picture!

The second picture certainly looks like it was taken at dusk the way the sunlight is reflected in the clouds, on the ground, in that left window, off the museum sign in the lower left, and off the exterior walls. Even to the right of the museum, it looks like the sun is shining a little more brightly over there, maybe because there were no trees providing any shade.

I love the Topaz rendition. I think it adds depth to the picture—look at the clouds through the arches in the bell tower—and a great deal more interest.

The Topaz Restyle plugin normally is $59.99 but you can get a $20 discount on it through the end of February by using the discount code FEBRESTYLE at checkout.

Topaz Labs is here.

All Topaz software has a free 30-day fully functional trial, so hop on over there, check out what they have, and let me know what you think.

Sadly, Topaz has not paid me for this testimonial….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Oh, dear, my wise old grandmother was wrong

My wise old grandmother

Some relevant words from my wise old grandmother:

There are no shortcuts in life.

If you want something, work hard to get it.

Well, recently I wanted to be able to see the road when I was driving at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

It’s pretty much not possible when your headlights look like this:

Headlights

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I stopped by Pep Boys to ask about cleaning them since I had seen the commercial on television and the Internet. I was pretty sure that whatever I bought to clean them wasn’t going to work and that I’d be spending several hundred dollars on parts and labor to buy new headlight covers.

The Pep Boys boy (he really could not have been more than 16 or 17) was very knowledgeable, assured me that “the stuff works,” and even explained to me why it works and why simply washing the car wouldn’t clean them.

Here’s the stuff I bought:

Turtle Wax headlight lens restorer

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It took about 15 minutes to do both headlights, and here is the result:

Headlights

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looks like my wise old grandmother was wrong! There was a shortcut, and I didn’t have to work hard to get what I wanted!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-12-14)—Orbs (or making something out of nothing at all)

Friday Flower Fiesta

My main reason for creating Photographic Art is because my camera, a Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i if you bought it in the United States) is a semi-professional camera that cost me about $700. My main camera lens is a Tamron 28-300mm macro zoom lens that cost me about $300. In other words, I have a whopping thousand dollars worth of camera equipment. Although I have 48 years of photographic experience, do I really think that I can compete with the professional with $35,000 worth of camera equipment and his own gallery downtown? No, I don’t.

So with the poor quality from the inadequate equipment, I create something unique, one of a kind images that no one else can create because they don’t know how I do it. They can try because they know I use Photoshop, and they might even come close, but unless they know the exact settings I use, they’re not going to get an exact reproduction of my Photographic Art. Heck, sometimes the Art is so unique that even I don’t know what settings I used, so even I cannot reproduce it!

Some of the pictures in my vast collection are what many photographers would call throwaways. However, a couple of things that my wise old grandmother told me back in 1966 has always stuck with me:

“What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”
and
“Don’t throw anything away. There is no away.”

Throughout the ensuing decades, I have learned to throw things away, but I take far less trash to the curb each week than my neighbors do. Maybe they just buy more crap than I do………….

Anyway, for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta, I thought I would take ten of my throwaway photographs and use them to make flower orbs in brushed aluminum frames. These pictures were out of focus, had poor composition, or are simply too small to use to make high quality Photographic Art. Here they are, with the original picture beneath each framed flower orb.

1

Framed flower orb

flower (226)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

2

Framed flower orb

flower (253)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

3

Framed flower orb

flower (269) original

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

4

Framed flower orb

flower (270) original

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

5

Framed flower orb

flower (301)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

6

Framed flower orb

flower (302)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

7

Framed flower orb

flower (312)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

8

Framed flower orb

flower (334)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

9

Framed flower orb

flower (342)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

10

Framed flower orb

flower (350)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Number 5 is my favorite. It looks like a face, maybe something out of a Stephen King novel. Number eight is my second favorite, and then number 7 is third.

If you would like to learn how to create orbs, see my post here. It’s really easy; takes just a couple of minutes…. Unless you don’t have Photoshop…. Then it will take a lot longer!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?

If you don’t ask, there’s only one answer

My wise old grandmother

In 1966, my grandmother taught me that if you want something, you have to ask.

If you ask, there are two answers: Yes or No.

If you don’t ask, there is only one answer: No.

My left shoulder and both knees are asking me to get out of the home inspection business. They don’t like crawling around anymore in attics and under houses. I have spent all of 2014 applying for various jobs, but I can tell you that ageism is alive and well in the work environment.

I would like to ask you to buy any Photographic Art and use it as a gift for Christmas, a December wedding or anniversary, a December birthday, or for a Fall graduate. Of course, if you can come up with other reasons for a gift, I’m all for it!

I am just starting out in this venture so I don’t have a decades-long track record. However, Jim Frimmer (missionvalleyliving.com) and Thomas Nelson (thomasjnelsonrealtor.com) are using my work for close of escrow and anniversary gifts. They attach their business cards and various messages to the back using rubber cement. From the reactions of their Clients, I know I have something going here.

I am at Fine Art America (1-russel-ray.artistwebsites.com) mainly because they are inexpensive compared to my local printing, art, and framing shops; and they have a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, even for buyer’s remorse!

If you think shipping costs are too high, you can buy the digital file directly from me for $49 and then have it printed at your favorite local shop.

I also do custom work for $49. For example, Thomas Nelson saw five Photographic Art that he liked for his most recent Client. Buying all five as one close-of-escrow gift was a little expensive, so he asked me if I could merge them, which I did. Here is the result:

Harley-Davidson montage

With my photography collection and resources, I can make one-of-a-kind Photographic Art in huge sizes. Thomas Nelson bought a panorama of San Diego (San Diego panorama) that I created using 16 separate pictures. The final product was four feet long. His Client was surprised and ecstatic!

San Diego

I recommend metal prints—they are virtually indestructible, the color is spectacular, they are light and easy to hang, and they are inexpensive compared to traditional glass and frame.

Please consider buying Photographic Art
for your gift-giving needs.
Thank you!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity
in 2015 and beyond.

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Suffering from Bare Wall Syndrome? Need a unique gift?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

photograhic art taking pictures making art