Out & About—Strutting peacock video

Out & About

My speaking engagement on 2/13/20 with the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society occurred at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. They have a flock of peafowl there which seems to be growing. I counted 27 at one point but I could not get them all in one picture. Here’s my mostest:

Peafowl at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

If you’ve never seen a strutting peacock, including behind-the-scene action, here’s one for you from my time at the Los Angeles County Arboretum last week:

Out & About—San Andreas Fault

Out & About

I had speaking engagements this past week with the Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society (Tuesday) and the San Gabriel Valley (Los Angeles) Cactus & Succulent Society (Thursday). My topic was Nature’s Geometry in Succulents. Both meetings were evening meetings, so I had a lot of daylight both days to go touring. Not to mention all day Wednesday between the two meetings.

I had created a list of places to visit and things to do, leaving at 4:53 a.m. on 2/11/20 for final destination Bakersfield. Google Maps said it would take me 3 hours and 50 minutes to drive from San Diego to Bakersfield. Ha! It took ten hours! TEN HOURS! In defense of Google Maps, though, I stopped here, there, and everywhere to take pictures, pictures which will provide lots of future blogs posts. First on my list was the….

San Andreas Fault

I always have been fascinated with the creation of the Earth, never believing that God was finished creating it. Ergo, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Several years ago I bought a book by David K. Lynch titled Field Guide to the San Andreas Fault. It has twelve driving tours to view anything and everything related to the San Andreas Fault. I took Trip #3 through the San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino to Palmdale.

San Andreas Fault Trip #3

The San Andreas Fault crosses the drive at many points, but the spot I was particularly interested in was one where the fault crosses the road diagonally and is marked on both sides of the road by signs.

San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault

Even though that spot was at the top of my San Andreas Fault list, I found two other spots that were far more interesting. The first was where the fault created a rift. On the right side of the rift was the North American Tectonic Plate, and on the left side was the Pacific Tectonic Plate. In the picture below, the train is traveling south on the North American Plate, and I’m on the highway traveling north on the Pacific Plate. How appropriate since the North American Plate also is moving south and the Pacific Plate is moving north. Long-time readers know how infatuated I am with trains, so this picture is my favorite of the fault.

San Andreas Fault

As a former general contractor, Realtor, and home inspector (among other real estate ventures), I found the village of Wrightwood fascinating.

Wrightwood, California

There are 4,500 people in Wrightwood living at about 6,000 feet elevation. All of the houses appeared to be constructed completely of wood: framing, siding, and roofs. The reason is because wood flexes, so earthquake damage won’t be near as massive as it would be with concrete, brick, and stucco buildings.

Wrightwood, California

The fault runs directly through the village, creating offsets, sag ponds, and scarps. A sag pond is a body of fresh water collected in the lowest parts of a depression formed between two sides of a fault, mostly strike-slip faults. Sag ponds are quite common along the San Andreas Fault. Sag ponds have been converted into reservoirs for both livestock and public water resources. One of the sag ponds at Wrightwood had been turned into a community swimming pool.

Sag pond in Wrightwood, California

Nature’s Geometry in Succulents—2020 speaking schedule so far

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

Having published my book, “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” in October 2019, I’m now on the speaking circuit for cactus & succulent clubs throughout the nation.

Here is my current “Nature’s Geometry in Succulents” speaking schedule.

Come see me if I’m in your area!

  • February 11 – Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society, Bakersfield CA
  • February 13 – San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia CA
  • March 14 – Visalia Succulent Society, Visalia CA
  • May 10 – South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society, Palos Verdes Estates CA
  • June 7 – Atlanta Cactus & Succulent Society, Atlanta GA

I will be driving to all locations, including Georgia.

Consequently, I’m contacting the cactus & succulent clubs between
San Diego and Georgia to see if I can get some more engagements
on the schedule for June.

Raindrops on an aeonium

Nature’s Geometry: Succulents—Orostachys spirals

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

I’m always on the prowl for plants that exhibit relationships derived from the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. The sequence was published by Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (ca. 1170–1250), better known as Fibonacci, in 1202 in his book, Liber Abaci. (In his book, Fibonacci also introduced Arabic numerals to the Western world. If not for him, we might still be using Roman numerals!)

Fibonacci introduced the Fibonacci sequence of numbers to solve a problem on rabbit breeding. Apparently, rabbit overpopulation was a serious problem in Italy in his time. Here’s the problem:

Beginning with a single pair of rabbits (one male and one female), how many pairs of rabbits will be born in a year, assuming that every month each male and female rabbit gives birth to a new pair of rabbits, and the new pair of rabbits itself starts giving birth to additional pairs of rabbits after the first month of their birth?

Rabbit bathFibonacci determined that the first pair of rabbits would have 377 pairs of rabbits, or 754 rabbits during the year (assuming no rabbit deaths!). If you’ve ever taken care of rabbits for an extended period of time, you know that 754 rabbits is a gross undervalue!

Without going into a great deal of mathematics, the relationship between individual numbers in the Fibonacci sequence creates what are called golden segments, golden ratios, golden squares, golden triangles, and golden spirals.

I became fascinated with the Fibonacci sequence in 1972, and how they manifest themselves throughout nature and the universe.

Golden spirals are my favorite, and I recently discovered the Orostachys genus, species of which are absolutely gorgeous in their display of spirals. Here are two pictures of Orostachys spinosa, a plant that now is high on my list of must-have plants:

Orostachys spinosa

Mental health

I grew up in the generation where mental health was not talked about, and if it was, usually it was mocked. Young people were “crazy” and old people were “senile.” The health profession has made significant advances in the ensuing fifty years, so when I retired and started having to deal more regularly with depression, I also was able to find out more about it.

One of the symptoms of depression is anger. Throughout my life, very little has made me angry enough to harm people (myself) or be destructive. Such feelings had become way too commonplace over the last three years. I could dismiss the feelings if I kept myself busy, but as a polyphasic sleeper, it’s been hard to keep myself busy for 12-18 hours a day.

The anger started causing me concern, though, so I finally took the necessary step, visiting my doctor and asking to be put on an anti-depressant. After listening to me for thirty minutes, he put me on Fluoxetine, 10 mg, daily dosage. He said it might take up to two weeks to see results. Yesterday was the end of day three on Fluoxetine, but I can tell you that it only took two days to feel results.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or severe anger issues, I highly recommend discussing your issues with your doctor. If you’re somewhat embarrassed about being on anti-depressants, well, you don’t have to tell anyone.

Our health is important, though, especially as the current president and his crime family, as well as his enablers and supporters in our legislatures, attempt to take away our health insurance.

Words matter


My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother never finished first grade. Her father had died, and she had to hit the fields to help ensure that the family had crop to harvest and sell. I find that amazing considering all that I learned from her.

One day when I was 11, I had a conversation with her that went something like this:

Me: Can I go over to Jim’s house?
Her: I don’t know. Can you?
Me: I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.
Her: Are you sick?
Me: No.
Her: Can you walk?
Me: Yes.
Her: Then I guess you can.
Me (as I turn to run out of the house): Thanks!
Her: Where are you going?
Me: Over to Jim’s.
Her: I didn’t say you could go anywhere.
Me: Yes you did!
Her: No, I did not. Sit down.

I sat.

After a 5-minute lecture on the importance of words and how words matter, and the difference between Can I? and May I?, I asked her, May I go over to Jim’s house? She answered, Yes, you may.

I bring this up because 54 years later, I still believe in the importance of words, that words matter.

Yesterday on Facebook I posted a link to an article titled,

Your Homophobia Isn’t A ‘Difference Of Opinion,’ It’s Hate.
Don’t tell me, a gay man, just to accept that some people want me dead.

Here is the conversation:

Person 1: I would say more ignorance than hate. These things are often passed on from parents. And they have not been exposed to the beauty there is in all types of people – gender, race, or sexual preference. And, that is sad.

Me: Or sexual orientation. “Preference” indicates a choice. Words matter.

Person 1: Whatever, you know what I mean, Russel. Everyone has beauty and importance them. It is time that people realized it.

Me: I cannot agree with “whatever.” My life is important to me, and when people like Mike Pence want to kill me because of my “choice” and “preference,” well, words matter.

Person 2: Person 1, big difference between preference and orientation. I get the feeling that you don’t understand the difference (e.g, “whatever”).

Person 3: It’s definitely ignorant but it is also hate. The hate is the dangerous part that is sweeping across the globe right now. The hate is the flame that Trump and his minions are throwing fuel on. It is the hate that Bolsonaro and the lumber barons and miners use as they torture and destroy the indigenous people of the rain forest. It is the same hate that Boris Johnson inflames the people with bats to beat lesbians on the streets of London. It is the same ignorance and hate that we remember on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Hate of the other: gypsy, Jew, homosexual, Catholic, neurodiverse, mentally ill, physically disabled, African, African American, South American, Native American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, left handed, Muslim, Iranian, Syrian – any group that the masses can be made to hate so they can be manipulated. You know what they are capable of. We have come to a time in our world where we must take a stand. Whatever is not enough.

Person 1: Russel and Person 2- of course orientation. Thanks for the correction.

I have no problem with preferences. Preference is a choice. I prefer margaritas, you prefer wine. I might not agree with their preferences but I’m not going to argue with anyone over them.

Since 1993-94, I have been estranged from thousands of relatives on both my mom’s side (Mormons) and dad’s side (Catholics). None of them could accept my “preference,” and none of them were willing to continue to love me. So we split. No problem. They prefer their religion. I don’t. But I also don’t want their preferences in my life. It’s not like pineapple on pizza, or not (NO!).

Another phrase that irritates me is “gay lifestyle.” A few years ago a Mormon relative with whom I had grown up in Kingsville, Texas, contacted me. She said she was aware of my “gay lifestyle.” Well, here’s a representation of my gay lifestyle:

I get up each day, shower, dress, eat breakfast, brush my teeth.
I feed Little Queen Olivia.
I go to work.
I take a lunch break (pizza, without pineapple!).
I go back to work.
I get off work.
I come home.
I eat supper.
I check Facebook, news, and sports.
I pay bills.
I play with Little Queen Olivia.
My husband comes home.
We kiss hello.
Husband checks Facebook, news, and sports.
We kiss goodnight.
Repeat daily.

O.M.effin.G. That’s so gay!

When I came out to all my relatives and friends in 1993-94, many asked me, “How long have you known you were gay?” and “When did you decide you were gay?” and “What made you gay?”

Well, back when I was pseudo-religious, I thought God made me gay because God made me, and the Mormon and Catholic religions taught me that God doesn’t make mistakes. Maybe making about 10% of his/her creations gay was his/her form of birth control?

If we substitute “homosexual” for “gay,” I’ve known since about the age of ten that I was homosexual. I was always more interested in the boys than the girls, and it was far more than “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls,” far more than getting cooties from the girls.

When my friends brought Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler to school, I was right there with them looking at the pictures (Ooopsy. I mean, reading the articles). However, while they were looking at the women, I was looking at the guys. Hustler was the best because it showed full frontal nudity for the guys. I was a Hustler fan, and it was easy to fool all my friends with my heterosexuality….

We were getting aroused over different things. It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It just naturally happened, and I never really questioned why it happened.

I never decided I was gay. I did decide to try not to be gay. I did that for 38 years. All it did was cause me to be a mess mentally. I’m kind of surprised that I survived, but I did.

With Twitler in the White House and his Crime Family, supporters, and enablers doing everything they can to ostracize people like me, yes, I’m going to speak out when and where I can in a forceful yet respective manner. It’s the least I can do to ensure that people like me never have to live like I did the first 38 years of my life.

The little monster


I have been spending a lot of time cataloging and organizing pictures, so I don’t have much to say today.

When I don’t have much to say, I let pictures do the talking.

So here are some recent pictures of the little monster, Little Queen Olivia.

She’s been with us for six months now and is as crazy as ever.

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Little Queen Olivia

Which is your favorite picture of the little monster?