Monthly Archives: April 2013

Strawberries from Oxnard, California

Developed by Monsanto?

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I developed most of my gardening skills courtesy of my wise old grandmother. Our home in Kingsville, Texas, had about an acre of land surrounding it, and the land was full of flowers, trees, and grass. Here’s what the house looked like a few months ago courtesy of Google Street View:

420 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville, Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The two oaks in front of the house were planted by the one and only me in 1970 after Hurricane Celia destroyed all the trees in our yard. Apparently all of the flowers, bushes, and shrubs are gone. She had mostly oleanders, poinsettias, crowns of thorns, snapdragons, pansies, and petunias.

All around the back patio, though, she had strawberry plants. I used to love picking strawberries (and eating them) as they ripened. Every time I buy strawberries at the store, I think back to the days of my youth when I would pick strawberries off of our own little strawberry plants. The strawberries of 40 years ago were small, certainly nothing like the strawberries we get here in San Diego from Oxnard and Watsonville (California). The strawberries I bought today look like this:

Strawberries from Oxnard, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Strawberries from Oxnard, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

These strawberries come from Oxnard. I bought them at a Walmart Superstore, four pounds for just $5.98. The smallest one is about the size of a lime, and the largest is about the size of a lemon. And they are sweet! Sweet, sweet, sweet! A little chocoloate syrup, or some vanilla ice cream, and it’s heaven on earth!

I’m wondering, though, if these strawberries were developed by Monsanto……lol

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Church for sale

God is having a bit of a financial crisis

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Recently I discovered that God is having a bit of a financial crisis and needs to sell some of her real estate.

About a mile from me:

Church for sale

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t know what happened to the Rolando United Methodist Church, whether they moved or whether their budget looked like the federal government’s with too much red ink.

Maybe they closed up shop because they could not compete with the two churches directly across the street:

Church of Christ

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christ Gospel Tabernacle

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Their last tweet on Twitter was May 24, 2012, their web site is no longer active, and the United Methodist Church web site does not list them anymore. Yelp users also report that the church has closed. I couldn’t find anything anywhere about what happened or why.

Here are a few more pictures of the church:

Rolando United Methodist Church

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rolando United Methodist Church

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rolando United Methodist Church

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If it itches, scratch it!

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The San Diego Zoo has spent a lot of time cleaning out some of the exhibits that were overgrown with vegetation, such as the eagle and condor exhibits. Now we can see the Andean Condors, and here is one that had an itch while I was there:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is the only member of the genus Vultur. It lives in the Andes mountains and adjacent Pacific coasts of western South America. Its wingspan of up to 10.5 ft is exceeded only by the Wandering Albatross, the Southern Royal Albatross, the Dalmatian Pelican, and the Great White Pelican.

Andean Condors are primarily scavengers, feeding mostly on carcases of deer and cattle. It is one of the world’s longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 100 years in captivity.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

ABBA

Music on Mondays — Are I not a great teacher?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In October 2012, I gave up on Cox Communications cable, which I had subscribed to for 18 years, and switched to AT&T U-verse. I took the U200 package which gave me 200 channels — 130 more than Cox — and also took the second-highest high speed Internet. I find the AT&T U-verse high speed Internet to be consistently faster at all hours of the day than was Cox. I got all of this for a price that was $40 a month LESS than Cox.

One of the channels that I “watch” a lot is Channel 500, MC Music Choice. I only discovered it a couple of weeks ago. Turns out that Channel 500 is a lot more than just one channel. Clicking on Channel 500 offers additional channels starting with 5101, Hit List. 5102 is Hip-Hop and R&B, 5103 is MCU, 5104 is Dance/Electronica, 5105 is Rap, 5106 is Hip-Hop Classics, etc., up to 5146 which is Spanish language Romance music. There is classical, country, pop, swing, blues, jazz, gospel, soul, Christian, Toddler Tunes, Stage & Screen, and my favorite channels:

  • 5112 Classic Rock
  • 5115 Metal
  • 5119 Soft Rock
  • 5121 90s
  • 5122 80s
  • 5123 70s
  • 5124 Solid Gold Oldies (50s & 60s) — My favorite since this one plays The Beatles.
  • 5125 Party Favorites

I like to fall asleep to music, but I’ve found that I can’t fall asleep to Channel 5124 because I keep hearing music that I’m familiar with but which is not in my own collection. I have to get up and put the song title and artist in my Buy spreadsheet in Excel. Once I buy it, it gets highlighted in a book, “Top Pop Singles 1955-1996” by Joel Whitburn. I quit buying the upgrades after 1996 because I really don’t like what passes for music now.

As I was highlighting music that I have, I noticed that Whitburn includes some trivia about the group or the song. One of the songs that I highlighted this morning was “SOS” by ABBA. I have a complete collection of ABBA music so I didn’t have to buy any. However, “SOS” and ABBA have a bit of trivia associated with the song: It’s the only Billboard chart hit where both the name of the song and the name of the artist are palindromes.

Here is “SOS” by ABBA:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“SOS” was ABBA’s third hit. Their first was “Waterloo” and their only #1 hit was “Dancing Queen.” My favorite, however, is “Fernando.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

So for today’s Music on Mondays, you not only got some great music, you learned in a relatively easy and painless way what palindromes are! Are I not a great teacher?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Meow. Meow, meow, meow. Meow, meow. Meow.

Cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Earlier today Zoey the Cool Cat came into my home office, stood there, looked at me, and meowed. She didn’t want food. She didn’t want to play with her red ring. She didn’t want to be cuddled and loved. She meowed, meowed, and meowed. And then she meowed some more. Finally I logged onto Google Translator, plugged in her meows, and got a translation (click on the picture for a larger, readable graphic):

Google Translate

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So here you have it! Our new category called CATS! Considering that Zoey the Cool Cat suggested it, I think it’s only appropriate that we feature her in our first CATS post!

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When Jim and I adopted Zoey from the El Cajon Animal Shelter, her name was simply Zoey. I liked it because of the “y” on the end. At the end of her first day with us, September 20, 2007, I had added “the Cool Cat” due to this picture:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

She claimed my office chair her first day and has never given it up. She can be nowhere around, but if I get up and leave the chair for more than thirty seconds, I come back and there she is, happily possessing it. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Here are some of my favorite pictures of Zoey the Cool Cat in my her chair.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Beware of people who dislike cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barb of Life in the Foothills

Will YOU be next on the list?

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have always had a hard time meeting new people.

That was a contributing reason why I joined Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity, while I was at Texas A&M University. Since I enjoy helping others, I could do that while basically being forced to meet others through the fraternity system.

I think the main (maybe the only) reason I like Facebook is because I can meet people without having to meet people. Then, once I’m comfortable meeting them, if I go to where they are, I will try to look them up.

Blogging is the same thing. People find my blog, I find theirs, we become Internet friends, and maybe somewhere down the road we’ll meet, either at their place or mine.

Yesterday, Barb (Life in the Foothills) and her husband (Paul), came to San Diego after their Carnival cruise had docked in Long Beach. Long Beach is about 110 miles from me, so they certainly didn’t have to go out of their way to come down here instead of going directly back home to life in the foothills. I don’t know whether or not they came here specifically to see me, but they sure made me feel like they did.

Jim and I took them to the San Diego Zoo, where we spent 4½ hours traipsing around watching the animals and, of course, taking pictures:

Barb of Life in the Foothills

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

After we wore ourselves out at the Zoo, we had drinks and food at On The Border.

Barb makes the fourth WordPress blogger that I have met in actual reality since I started using the WordPress platform on January 7, 2012. Here is my complete list now:

  1. Rommel (The Sophomore Slump) — Rommel and I went to the USS Midway Museum on May 27, 2012. See his pictures and my pictures.
  2. Bashar A. (2 Rivers Photos) — Bashar, Jim, and I went to the La Jolla Cove on October 17, 2012, to take pictures of a negative tide and a beautiful sunset. See his pictures and my pictures.
  3. Marsha Lee (Marsha Lee) — Marsha came down with some long-time friends of hers on January 5, 2013, just to spend some time in San Diego. She and her friends introduced Jim and me to a new restaurant here in San Diego. See her pictures and my pictures.
  4. Barb (Life in the Foothills) — Barb and Paul were on a cruise that originated in Long Beach. After their cruise, they came down to San Diego to visit Jim and me. They just got home today so keep an eye on her blog for pictures of their cruise and trip to the San Diego Zoo. I’m still cataloging the 380 pictures I took, so stay tuned here, too, and I’ll have some pictures this week.
  5. Will YOU be next on this list?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Koala female and one-year-old joey at the San Diego Zoo

Joey needs a name…. Wait! What?

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A blogging friend and her husband came to town yesterday so Jim and I took them to the San Diego Zoo.

One of the little fellas that we saw was a baby Koala (remember that Koalas are not bears, so don’t go saying “Koala Bear.” They are marsupials.)

Turns out that baby Koalas are called joeys, and the San Diego Zoo is asking for help in naming this little joey.

In the picture below, you can see mommy teaching her little one that the reason why koalas exist is to sleep, up to twenty hours each day.

Name the baby koala

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

By the way, the San Diego Zoo has the largest colony of koalas outside of Australia. Unfortunately, there are only four currently on exhibit because their old exhibit was torn down and rebuilt into a huge Australian Outback. The new exhibit, which opens May 24 (I’ll be there!) is probably a good twenty times larger than the old exhibit which I heard had been there since sometime around 1935. So it was time for a little home remodeling!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Time to study

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Blacks BeachWith the weather warming up lately, people are traipsing to the beaches like there’s no tomorrow.

One of San Diego’s most unique beaches is Blacks Beach.

It’s unique because it is one of the world’s most beautiful and well used naturist beaches.

It’s unique because the backdrop to the beach is 300-foot sandstone cliffs.

It’s unique because it is directly below the Torrey Pines Golf Course, a municipal golf course where Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open over Rocco Mediate on the first hole of a sudden death playoff.

Blacks Beach in San Diego, CaliforniaIt’s unique because it’s directly in the flight path for military aircraft taking off from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

It’s unique because flying directly above the beach are the parasailers from Torrey Pines Glider Port.

It’s unique because it’s directly below the University of California at San Diego. With 29,000 students, it’s always possible to find some studying and enjoying the sun, water, and breezes.

Studying

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Blacks Beach map

View Larger Map

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

No pumps, tutus, or feather boas

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A couple of days ago I trekked about six miles deep into the heart of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

I was so deep in the wilderness that there weren’t any trails; I was making my own!

I was absolutely certain that I was going where no one had gone before.

Until I came upon this:

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Those two lumps at the right are two backpacks. There were two complete sets of clothes — shoes, socks, underwear, pants, shirt. I did not spend a lot of time trying to identify genders that might be associated with the clothes since women will often wear mens-type clothing when going hiking. No pumps, tutus, or feather boas.

I looked around, saw no visual evidence that mankind was anywhere close by, and wondered.

Maybe they had a fresh set of clothes in the backpacks, knowing that by the time they got to wherever they were going, they would be all hot and sweaty and would not want to hike back out all smelly and everything. But why not pack all your smelly clothes out and simply wash them? Maybe they were taken by aliens.

Feel free to leave your own guesses.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Golden Barrel Cactus flowers

Here’s looking at you!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It was a bright, sunny, and warm afternoon today, so I went down to Balboa Park to check out the cactus garden since cacti love bright, sunny, warm days. Officially the cactus garden is called the Desert Garden and is located at 2525 Park Boulevard, just north of the Inez Parker Grant Memorial Rose Garden (everyone knows where the roses are!).

Desert Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Throughout Balboa Park, but particularly in the Rose Garden and the Desert Garden, the flower displays are stunning right now. I’ll feature the Rose Garden in this week’s Friday Flower Fiesta.

The Desert Garden has more than 1,300 plants from around the world on 2½ acres. One of the interesting cactus species in the Desert Garden is the Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinopsis grusonii).

Golden Barrel Cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In Texas we called it the “horse crippler” because if you were riding in the boondocks and your horse misstepped on a Golden Barrel Cactus, it could easily be crippled. Unfortunately, the Golden Barrel Cactus, while extremely popular in city cactus gardens, is rare and critically endangered in the wild.

Small, yellow flowers appear on the crown of the cactus but usually only after the plant is about twenty years old.

Golden Barrel Cactus flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Look back at the first picture and notice that the plant appears to be leaning. It’s not. It’s simply exhibiting phototropism, a plant characteristic first named heliotropism by A.P. de Candolle in 1832. If you grow plants indoors, phototropism is what causes the plants to grow towards a light source, and why most gardening books tell you to place a plant light directly above your plants or to rotate them regularly so that they will grow evenly.

The Golden Barrel Cactus is one of the best plants to observe phototropism. If you were to plant one in a pot and let it grow for a few months, it would appear to lean towards the sun. You could then rotate it 180° and in another couple of months it would be leaning towards the sun again.

In extreme cases — and I know of one place here — younger Golden Barrel Cacti planted where they get up to twelve hours of sun each day, can be observed facing east for the morning sun and south for the midday sun, ultimately facing west as the sun sets.

Here is another picture from the Desert Garden showing several of these cacti leaning west, towards the setting sun:

Golden Barrel Cactus in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I walked around so that I appeared to be in front of them. It appeared that they were looking at me, reminding me of the movie Casablanca. “Here’s looking at you!”

Golden Barrel Cactus in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos