“Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” by Russel Ray

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" front cover

Several people told me that they would like to have a copy of my book but postage from the U.S. to their countries was too expensive. So………..

I have been trying to make a “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” flip book but no luck. They either cannot make a good flipbook from a PDF, or they want thousands of dollars and several months to re-format my book to fit their requirements. Nope.

I do have a very nice PDF that works on Windows, iPad, and Mac, now in my Etsy shop with my printed book. Print book is $35 with free shipping to U.S. locations, and the PDF is $15 as an instant download. Both will make great Christmas gifts!

Here’s the link to my Etsy shop:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RusselRayPhotos

Nature's Geometry: Succulents back cover

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" review

I think WordPress will finally lose me….

I have tried the new block editor several times this year and found in clunky and time-consuming.

This morning, however, WordPress is forcing it on me.

My annual subscription expires in January.

I’m thinking that I won’t be renewing this time.

I can use that $99 for some margaritas.

Added with edit: I have definitively decided that I am going to cancel and terminate this blog. I don’t need the Google juice anymore since I’m retired. Over the next three months, I will be deleting posts, beginning with the oldest ones. If any of them have information worth saving, I’ll copy it to a text file. I already have all of the pictures.

If anyone wants to follow me elsewhere, I am at Facebook, Liker, and Etsy.

If we ever get back to in-person meetings, I’ll be creating a private website for my books and calendars.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russel.ray.3/

Liker: https://www.liker.com/rusel6945/wall

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RusselRayPhotos

Big 3-0 next year!

A Piece Missing

Dawna Melene Brinley KirkToday would be the 90th birthday of my birth mother….

….or 89th….

….or 86th….

….or 85th….

….depending on the source.

I know definitively that she died in 2012, but throughout my life she said she had been born on September 30, 1931. That would make her 19 when she got married. I also know that she was pregnant with her first child—I’m #3 of 5.

John Ancel Kirk, Jr.I also know that my dad was born in May 1930, which might explain some things.

If mom was born in 1935—the date that comes up most often—she would have been 15 when she got married. Since dad was 20, and my mom was pregnant, I do believe that would be statutory rape if she was 15. So she decided to change her birth year….

Interestingly, apparently as soon as they learned that mom was pregnant, they eloped to Mexico and got married. Mexico was only about 100 miles south of my hometown of Kingsville, Texas, but Mexico marriage certificates were not recognized in Texas at the time. Shortly after that marriage, they eloped to Comanche, Oklahoma, 545 miles from Kingsville, and got married again.

For some strange reason, it appears that they didn’t want to get married in Texas. Maybe they didn’t want anyone to know that they were having a shotgun marriage. That doesn’t make sense, though, because they went right back to Kingsville and moved in with my mom’s parents. On December 18, 1950, dad joined the Air Force, leaving his pregnant wife with her parents.

Mom also told me throughout my life that she was born in Helena, Montana. I have not been able to find a birth certificate yet. I had thought about having the Twitler Crime Family find it for me, but since they never were able to find Barack Obama’s Kenya birth certificate, I left them alone. They had crime to commit.

I am 99% certain that mom was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, since every single obituary notice says that. They don’t agree on her birth year, though. Not sure why lying about one’s birthplace was important to her. Maybe she knew that no one would ever find any birth records if they went looking in Helena, Montana.

After the State of Utah removed me from my mom and stepdad’s home in 1965—possibly both for child abuse and for me being one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents, I only saw my mom once, in 1994 in New Orleans where she and most of my siblings were living at the time. I came out to them during Mardi Gras that year.My wise old grandmother

If my wise old grandmother had not adopted me in December 1965, I believe I would currently be serving live in prison in Utah or dead at the hands of a Utah law enforcement officer. I was that bad.

I shall continue to search for missing pieces of her life to determine if today would have been her 90th/89th/86th/85th birthday….

Someone more famous than me once said, “If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.”


I have decided that I was born on March 11, 1991. Big Three-O next year!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

When the year was only 282 days

Did you know?

Along with Netflix binge-watching, I am reading a lot. Here’s something I read that surprised and interested me.

There was a problem with the calendar in eighteenth century Britain since Britain and its possessions, including the American colonies, still used the old Julian calendar begun by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. Meanwhile, Europeans were using the newer Gregorian calendar introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

The problem with the Julian calendar was that it had an error built into it, resulting in a miscalculation of the solar year by eleven minutes. Not a critical error at the time, but it did result in a 1-day error every 128 years. Still not a critical error, but over two thousand years, Spring on the calendar was moving further and further away from the actual Spring equinox, thereby completely messing up the seasons.

That’s just for starters. Imagine the mess with legal, contractual, and other business matters if the parties were using different calendars.

Finally, pursuant to the British Calendar Act of 1751, Britain and its colonies made the Gregorian Correction in 1752. The Act directed that the day following Wednesday, September 2, would be Thursday, September 14, 1752. The Act also moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, shortening the year 1751 to only 282 days.

There is a myth that there was rioting over the lost 11 days. Imagine that happening in today’s world—mortgage and car payments are due but you’re missing 11 days of pay. Oh, dear. 

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Not where you’d expect it

Picture of the Moment

I think snails are fascinating creatures.

Some of my fascination might have something to do with that Fibonacci spiral that they carry on their backs.

This one seems to be quite comfortable on the spines of Echinocactus grusonii, the golden barrel cactus. Not where you’d expect this little one to be.

Snail on the spines of Echinocactus grusonii, the golden barrel cactus

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One of my favorite garden visitors

Did you know?

I love it when a mantis visits my garden.


Mantises are an order of insects containing over 2,400 species in about 430 genera in 15 families, distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks, elongated bodies, may or may not have wings, but all have greatly enlarged forelegs that are adapted for catching and gripping prey. Their upright posture with forearms folded has led to the common name “praying mantis.”

The closest relatives of mantises are the termites and cockroaches. Mantises are sometimes confused with stick insects, other elongated insects such as grasshoppers, or other unrelated insects with raptorial forelegs such as mantisflies.

Mantises are mostly ambush predators, but a few ground-dwelling species actively pursue their prey. They live for about a year. Females sometimes practice sexual cannibalism, eating their mates after copulation, meaning that they might not live as long as females.

Mantises were considered to have supernatural powers by early civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Assyria. A cultural trope popular in cartoons imagines the female mantis as a femme fatale.

Mantises are among the insects most commonly kept as pets.

If you haven’t seen a mantis devouring a murder hornet, check out this video:

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The time is now!

Did you know?

From one of my daily news feeds.

“Though Californians will still rely on the U.S. Postal Service to receive a blank ballot, the vast majority can bypass the unpredictability of the USPS and the risk of in-person voting by using a ballot drop-off box at any vote center in their county. For those who must mail a ballot, this year the three-day grace period has been extended to 17 days after the election.

Is this system perfect? Of course not — no system is. In the March primary, more than 100,000, or 1.5%, of the 7 million mail ballots cast were disqualified for various reasons, though by far the most common problem was that the ballots either were postmarked after election day or didn’t arrive at election headquarters within the grace period.”

I have been voting for 44 years and in seven states. After standing in line for eight hours to vote in November 1980, I switched to absentee ballots and, since May 1993 here in San Diego, permanent mail voter. All of the states allowed for mail and absentee ballots to be dropped off at polling locations, and all of them had a one- or two-day grace period for receiving absentee, mail, and overseas ballots.

Secretaries of State have 30 days to certify the results of their elections, and then another 30 days to transmit those results to Congress. Congress then certifies the results and transmits them to the Electors. Considering that Congress is on Thanksgiving and Christmas break, the earliest they can get the election results is January 3 of the year following the election.

Call your Registrar of Voters TODAY to find out the options to ensure that your vote gets counted this year. The time is now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!