Category Archives: Photos

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

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Friday Flower Fiesta (4-17-14)

Friday Flower Fiesta

Last week’s Friday Flower Fiesta featured Photographic Art of flowers that I have uploaded to my Flowers Gallery at Fine Art America in preparation for being an approved vendor at the fundraiser May 3 for Cat House on the Kings.

I am going to stick with that theme for this week, so all of the following Photographic Art flowers are at Fine Art America, which means they are for sale there.

OrchidOrchid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

OrchidOrchid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

OrchidOrchid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

FuchsiaFuchsia

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

MoonflowerMoonflower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Time To BloomTime To Bloom

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BeautyBeauty

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

PassionflowerPassionflower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pink & YellowPink & Yellow

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

LilyLily

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whenever I upload something to Fine Art America, it automatically posts to Facebook, so I usually get at least one LIKE on Facebook for each post…. usually Jim……. :)

This final Photographic Art flower, however, was one that I initially didn’t like, but something struck me about it so I kept it. It is my least favorite of those in this Friday Flower Fiesta, but over at Facebook it is my most popular Photographic Art creation. Go figure….

Pink Lily

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.

Use code FTNSD to get a 20% discount through April 14, 2014.

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San Diego Historical Landmarks–#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8

San Diego Historical Landmarks

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

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next up on our west to east meandering on El Prado is a guy on a horse. Looks like this:

El Cid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That, my friends, is El Cid, neé Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043-1099), a Castilian nobleman born in Vivar del Cid and military leader in medieval Spain. He was raised in the court of the Spanish Emperor Ferdinand the Great. El Cid became famous for his military prowess and helped enlarge Castilian territory at the expense of the Muslims. El Cid remains an idealized figure in Spain, and has been immortalized in plays, film, folk tales, and songs, most notably “El Cid,” a 1961 film starring Charlton Heston.

So why do we have a larger-than-life statue of El Cid in San Diego’s Balboa Park? El Cid died almost 450 years before San Diego was founded by Juan Cabrillo.

Well, it turns out that there actually are three El Cid Campeador statues like this one, the other two being in San Francisco and Buenos Aires. The first El Cid Campeador statue was a 1927 bronze sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973), one of New York City’s most prominent sculptors. In 1932, she became the first woman artist elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

That first El Cid Campeador was installed in Seville, Spain, in 1927. The El Cid Campeador statue in Balboa Park was donated by Mrs. Huntington in 1930 through the Hispanic Society of America.

El Cid Campeador

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Hispanic Society of America was founded by Anna’s husband, Archer Huntington, in 1904 in New York City.

Okay, so we know famous people, Archer Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington, are connected to the El Cid Campeador statue here, but why?

Believe it or not, I couldn’t find the information on the Internet, so I turned to my library of, gasp, actual books. The book that finally gave me the answer was San Diego Trivia 2 by Evelyn Kooperman (San Dieguito Publishers, San Marcos CA, 1993, p. 534).

The siting of El Cid has him riding towards the San Diego Museum of Art, which will be our next stop on this San Diego Historical Landmarks tour. The San Diego Museum of Art was designed by William Templeton Johnson (1877-1957), a noted San Diego architect who designed many notable places in the San Diego area, including the La Jolla Public Library, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, Junipero Serra Museum in Presidio Park, and the Francis Parker School where I occasionally teach chess!

Through the magic of cross-referencing, I discovered that Johnson was friends with Mr. and Mrs. Huntington. When that friendship started, though, is what I want to know. Did it begin in America, or did they meet in Seville in 1929?

Interestingly, El Cid Campeador was not the first statue donated to Balboa Park by Anna Huntington. Diana was donated in 1927 and Youth Taming the Wild in 1935. I do not recall ever seeing those two statues so my mission, and I choose to accept it, is to find them!

Huntington’s 1927 donation leads me to believe that the Huntingtons and Johnson met well before the 1929 Exposition in Spain. Alas, my work here is incomplete and my curiosity is piqued. Perhaps some research in the new San Diego Central Library or with the San Diego Historical Society, located in Balboa Park, will shed some light on this.

Stay tuned!

El Cid Campeador at sunset

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Under Cloudy Skies

Picture of the Moment

We don’t get a lot of beautiful cloud formations here in San Diego. It’s usually either sunny or a dull, gray, overcast nothingness.

When we do get nice cloud formations, the masses take to the outdoors to capture pictures. The masses, yes, includes me.

Here is downtown El Cajon, California, recently, under a late afternoon partly cloudy sky:

Downtown El Cajon, California, Under Cloudy Skies

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture titled “Under Cloudy Skies” is for sale at Fine Art America.

Location of El Cajon, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Halls of History (4-15-14)

Halls of History

April 15 is an interesting day in history. To wit:

  1. 1452—Leonardo da Vinci born.
  2. Scott #77 Abraham Lincoln1865—President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by John Wilkes Booth while at the play, An American Cousin, at the Ford’s Theatre.
  3. 1892—Closing ceremony of the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens, Greece, the first Olympic games of the modern era. The original Olympic games had been held from 776 BD to 394 AD.
  4. General Electric Company is founded. In 2011, by various measurements GE ranked as the 26th-largest firm in the U.S., the 14th most profitable, the fourth-largest in the world, No. 5 best global brand, No. 63 green company, and No. 15 most admired company.
  5. The RMS Titanic sinks in the north Atlantic ocean after striking an iceberg, taking 1,517 people to a watery grave.Rand McNally published its first road atlas.Scott #2016 Jackie Robinson
  6. 1947—Jackie Robinson played in a baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the so-called color barrier in major league baseball.
  7. 1951—Heloise born. Smile if you or your mom was a great fan of Heloise.
  8. 1965—The first Ford Mustang rolled off the show room floor, two days before it was to go on sale to the general public.
  9. 1990—Gretao Garbo died. Smile if you or your dad had a Greta Garbo poster from the 1940s or ’50s.

Most recently, which means last in this list, but certainly not least:

10. 2013—Two home-made bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring another 264 people.

Boston

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Music on Mondays (4-14-14) – Taking it easy

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since I will be a vendor at the Cat House on the Kings fundraiser the weekend of May 3, I pretty much decided that I won’t be going to Los Angeles for National Train Day (May 10) this year. I’ll miss it because ATSF 3751, a steam engine built in 1927, is always there since it is housed just a mile south of Union Station.

ATSF 3751 at Los Angeles at National Train Day in May 2012

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fortunately, ATSF 3751 always shows up a month earlier at San Bernardino Railroad Days. That’s where I went yesterday, taking the
San Diego Trolley from La Mesa to the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego,
then Amtrak from San Diego to the historic Union Station in Los Angeles,
then Metrolink from Los Angeles to the historic Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino.

Santa Fe Depot, San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I left the driving to them, which allowed me to take it easy. Ah that peaceful, easy feeling as the train left here yesterday morning. Sadly, none of the trains went by the Hotel California.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 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!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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I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

I guess blogging wasn’t fun

My wise old grandmother

One of my favorite sayings from my wise old grandmother is “Life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the journey.” That means to have fun!

SeaWorld San DiegoI don’t have many problems having fun because I like so many things–real estate, music, photography, gardening, chess, travel, reading, history, people….

….and blogging!

Blogging allows me to enjoy real estate, music, photography, gardening, chess, travel, reading, history, people….

SeaWorld San DiegoEver since my WordPress problems got resolved towards the end of March, I have been going on blog camping trips each day. My Excel spreadsheet tells me that I have been camping in 36 to 180 blogs each day, averaging 85 each day.

Unfortunately, my Excel spreadsheet also tells me that of the 1,198 blogs I have visited in 14 days, a whopping 216 of them are inactive. I define “inactive” as publishing fewer than one blog per month. Some people haven’t published anything since September 2013, and in other cases, the blogs have been completely deleted. I guess blogging wasn’t fun for them.

Sea turtle at SeaWorld San DiegoGoing through the blogs of these people who have not visited my blog since last September and October allows me to cull my list, which is a good thing because it takes a lot of time and effort to visit people. It’s something I love to do, but I dislike very much waiting for a blog to load only to have Google tell me that the blog has been deleted, or to find that the blogger isn’t even blogging anymore. Blog camping is very difficult if bloggers don’t blog or blog only once every three months! On the other hand, a shorter list will mean that the time between camping trips to YOUR blog will be shorter!

Pictures taken at SeaWorld San Diego.

Note to the WordPress folks: With your recent upgrade you took away our ability to easily put borders around our pictures. Why?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
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Friday Flower Fiesta (4-11-14) from Fine Art America

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have been uploading pictures by the dozens to my Fine Art America galleries in preparation for being an approved vendor at the fundraiser May 3 for Cat House on the Kings.

Knowing that flowers are popular at all times of the year with many people, those have been on my priority list for uploading.

I thought I’d share a few of them here in our Friday Flower Fiesta for April 11, 2014, which happens to be my 709th monthabirthday.

You can click on the picture to go directly to the picture in my Flower Gallery at Fine Art America.

DahliaDahlia

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SoonAloe flower buds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pretty in YellowPretty in Yellow

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Umbrella Tree FlowersUmbrella Tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Carnivorous BeautyCarnivorous Beauty

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mother of ThousandsMother of Thousands

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Raindrops on Geranium FlowersRaindrops on Geranium

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red and YellowRed and Yellow

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flower BudsFlower Buds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SuspendedSuspended

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photographic Art stamp offer

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.

Use code FTNSD to get a 20% discount through April 14, 2014.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

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

History Through Philately–Happy birthday to the ASPCA!

History Through Philately stamp

With my WordPress problems of these past three months now firmly in the past (see WordPress problems resolved!), I seem to have more time to do the things I like to do, such as blog camping (see May I camp out in your blog?) and blogging.

Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of serial blogging, too, but serial blogging takes a lot more effort than just putting up a pretty picture every day, or a cute quote.

Scott #776, Texas centennialSome of my blog series include

I have always had a love of history, with war history being at the top of my list. I find it amazing that humans can be so cruel to other humans, usually under the guise of religion. Right now I’m reading The Crusades by  Zoé Oldenbourg. Just a sampling of how cruel the crusades were: “The Aemenian nobles of Edessa who were plotting to overthrow their new lord were punished in the Byzantine fashion by mutilation–having their eyes put out and their feet, hands, or noses cut off.” The Crusades were in the Eleventh Century, yet killing in the name of religions continues to the present.Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

Philately, or stamp collecting, by its very nature encourages the study of history, so it was only natural that I became a philatelist, or stamp collector. At one time I had a huge stamp collection, include Railroad Postal History (RPO), but it was sold when I evacuated Texas in April 1993 and wound up here in San Diego.

I still collect stamps, virtually (much less financial investment), and subscribe to daily emails from history.com. Coupled with Wikipedia’s On this day section on their front page, I get my fill of history each day.

So without further adoo (that’s Texan for adieux), on this day in 1866….

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in New York City. It is entirely separate from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which was founded in England in 1824 to prevent cruelty to carriage horses. The ASCPA’s mission is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” It’s motto is, “We are their voice.”

One might wonder why anyone would be cruel to a defenseless animal, and perhaps even if their mission might be outdated. All one has to do is pay attention to the news, and it’s easy to see that their mission is not outdated, and that if humans can be cruel to other humans, they certainly can be cruel to defenseless animals. Examples include dogfighting and cockfighting, not feeding an animal enough (often happens to dogs and horses), not giving them clean water, keeping them outside in very hot or very cold weather, hitting an animal (another way to “train” an animal). Some that were recently in the news include setting cats on fire, shooting cats and dogs with arrows, drowning newborn dogs by throwing them into fast-moving rivers, abandoning newborn cats by “throwing them away” in a dumpster.

In celebration of the founding of the ASPCA, here are some United States postage stamps featuring cats, dogs, and horses, the three most commonly abused animals:

Scott #2372, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2372

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2373, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2373

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2374, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2374

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2375, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2375

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3232, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3232

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3670, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3670

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2098, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2098

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2099, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2099

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2100, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2100

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2101, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2101

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3230, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3230

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3671, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3671

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #4451-4460, issued April 30, 2010Scott #4451-4460

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2155, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2155

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2156, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2156

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2157, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2157

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2158, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2158

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.

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
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In the master bedroom?

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yahoooooooooooooooooooooo!

More about that in a minute.

Zoey the Cool Cat is a very sociable cat. She likes to be where Jim and I are, so if we’re in the office, she’s probably lounging on the printer between our two desks:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sometimes, though, she disappears, and when I take a break (10-minute break every hour), if she’s not close by, I’ll go look for her.

Around 3:00 this afternoon, she was not close by, and I didn’t find her in her usual places in the garage or living room.

I went into the master bedroom and saw this:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Three o’clock is about the time that the sunshine is fading from the master bedroom—you can see some sun on the floor at the right—so I have no doubt that she was lounging in the sunshine on the bed, and when the sun moved, she did, too, eventually winding up in that position.

Since I often carry my camera from room to room with me, just for times like this, I took a couple of pictures while I was laughing at her.

If she heard me laughing, I’m probably due for a rude awakening around 3:00 tomorrow morning………….. :)

Now back to Yahooooooooooooooooo!

I got official word today that I get to be a vendor for the Cat House on the Kings fundraiser on May 3 in Fresno. This will be for my Photographic Art enterprise. I’m excited, especially since I’m going to drive, which means I’ll be able to stop here and there and take road-trip pictures as well as spending Saturday with a few billion cats!

Yahoooooooooooooooo!

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