Monthly Archives: February 2014

Smelled me, licked me, ignored me

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I was growing up under the tutelage of my wise old grandmother, she taught me an appreciation for Mother and Father Nature.

She probably went to the extreme in the minds of many people since she would capture spiders in a glass and return them to the outdoors. If a good ol’ Texas-sized rat got into the house, she’d simply open all the doors and guide the rat back to the exterior with her trusty brooms, mops, and boxes. It was so much fun to be part of.

I still have that appreciation and, yes, I will return spiders to the outdoors, too, the most recent recipient of my kindness being a huge Texas-sized daddy longlegs (Opilones).

With my 48 years of such appreciation, I’m pretty much not afraid of wildlife, although I suspect that if I were to encounter a grizzly bear, rattlesnake, or mountain lion out in their territory, it might be a different story.

At yesterday’s home inspection, the sellers had a dog. I told them that dogs typically like me but they warned me that he was pretty big. Well, yes, he was pretty big, but here’s what he did while I traipsed around his home poking and prodding:

Big dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yep, he was pretty ferocious. During the first five minutes of our meeting, he smelled me and licked me. He spent the next three hours ignoring me.

Of course, such a great picture was begging for some Photographic Art magic:

Big dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I would never have thought to do that

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On of the very best things about being a home inspector is that I get to visit about 365 homes each year (I try to limit myself to one inspection a day).

I get to see the rich with their maids, butlers, nannies, gardeners, and pool guys (smile if you remember the pool guy from “Legally Blonde”).

I get to see families trying to make it in the world without maids, butlers, nannies, gardeners, and pools, much less pool guys.

I get to see what other people have done which often gives me ideas.

A great example is this garden path from today’s inspection:

Garden path

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See the long tree root that is creating part of the path border? I would never have thought to do that. I would have covered that root with some soil, leveled it, planted some flowers on top of it, and gone on my merry way. I’m still inclined to plant some flowers instead of using landscape bark, but I absolutely love using the tree root as a path border.

The tree is a eucalyptus, about 200′ tall and probably planted in 1940 when the house was built. Unfortunately, eucalyptus trees have shallow root systems (proof in the picture) and are very brittle. This tree was planted about twenty feet from the house, so if a good period of rain comes, or some high winds, parts of the tree, or even the tree itself, could fall on the house. Not good.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Mansions in the boondocks

photographic art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I love going to the boondocks to do home inspections because I always find something new.

My inspection in the boondocks a couple of days ago was in an area where I had not been before, so I left early in case I found something to take a picture of.

You know I found things to take pictures of, right?

Following are three boondocks pictures made into Photographic Art. The first two are the same property and taken from the shoulder of the road. The third is a top-of-the-mountain mansion which was for sale, so I wandered around the property taking pictures.

Mansion in the boondocks, San Diego County

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lonely tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mansion in the boondocks

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The top-of-the-mountain mansion is located in Jamul, about 30 miles east of me. The MLS listing states that it is 3,736 square feet with five bedrooms and three baths. Built in 2000, it is on 5.03 acres of land with a tennis court, a vanishing edge pool, and a 1,600-SF granny flat. The seller really wants to sell it and will consider seller financing or carrying. It’s only $690,000, about $689,900 out of my price range.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re going to take on a car….

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I remember what my wise old grandmother said when Santa Claus (yeah, right) brought me my first bike for Christmas 1968: “If you’re going to take on a car, the car will win, so be careful.”

A couple of days ago I had a home inspection out in the boondocks. I knew there would be picture-taking opportunities to and from, but from would be in dusk, if not darkness. Thus, I left early so that I could drive slowly on those winding mountain roads and stop to take pictures, sometimes turning around multiple times looking for a place to pull off the road and park for a few minutes.

Part of my trip was on Historic Route 94, which I previously blogged about in Scenes from…. beyond the boondocks.

On the other part, I found some interesting things to photograph which I will share in future posts. This post is about California’s “Share The Road” law which officially began in September 2013 when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that prohibits the drivers of motor vehicles from passing bike riders on the road unless there is at least 36 inches of space between the bicyclist and the car. Who measures the distance when a car is going 55 mph and a bike is going 15 mph? Anyways…. If that minimal  passing distance isn’t possible, drivers have to slow to a speed that  is “reasonable and prudent.”

Many different signs are going up along streets and highways:

Bikes May Use Full Lane

Share The Road

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The law doesn’t make exceptions, so those areas which have streets and roads with only one lane in each direction are painting reminder signs on the pavement:

Share The Road

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I used to ride on sidewalks because my bike rides are leisurely bike rides, not bike rides of necessity to get me from point A to point B. However, in most cities, riding bikes on sidewalks is illegal, and one city here, El Cajon, is out to increase its annual budget by giving out lots of tickets to bicyclists riding on sidewalks and people who jaywalk, so beware. If you want to rob a bank, pay some little kid $20 to ride his bike on the sidewalk near a police station or a donut shop and then rob the bank while the police are busy. (Not serious with that last sentence, folks, not serious. It’s called humor.)

Unfortunately, as always, there are people who take advantage of a law, even to the extent of abusing it. When that occurs, the only good thing to come of it, well, there isn’t anything good to come of it.

Even when the law allows me the bicyclist to use the full lane, I consider it common courtesy to ride as far to the right so that cars can pass me easily, especially on streets and roads with just one lane in each direction. Some people, apparently, are not as considerate as me, which is why I saw the following sign out in the boondocks:

Bicyclist ahead

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The road in question is used a lot by motorcyclists, some taking to the extreme G forces on curves. There are very few bicyclists out in the boondocks, so such a sign indicates to me that the bicyclist probably lives in the neighborhood, and neighbors annoying neighbors, well, nothing good will come of that either.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Music on Mondays (2-24-14)—To the thirteen days of glory, and the men of….

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Kingsville, TexasI grew up in Kingsville, Texas, a little farming and ranching community of 23,000 people. My family were typical country (and western) music fans, so I learned the Texas two-step, country line dancing, how to dance while actually touching your dancing partner, and similar things. However, when I was by myself, I usually preferred pop music, rock & roll, and, since I played the piano and violin, classical music. However, one of my favorite country artists at the time (and still), Marty Robbins, was well represented on my listening list.

I still have a wide interest in all types of music, except hip hop and rap (don’t like the lyrics, if that’s what you can call them). As I was trying to think about what to do for today’s Music on Mondays, history came to the rescue. From my daily email sent to me by history.com:

Scott #1043, The AlamoOn this day in 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issued a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army.

On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived suddenly in San Antonio. Travis and his troops took shelter in the Alamo, where they were soon joined by a volunteer force led by Colonel James Bowie.

Though Santa Ana’s 5,000 troops heavily outnumbered the several hundred Texans, Travis and his men determined not to give up. On February 24, they answered Santa Ana’s call for surrender with a bold shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Furious, the Mexican general ordered his forces to launch a siege. Travis immediately recognized his disadvantage and sent out several messages via couriers asking for reinforcements. Addressing one of the pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with the now-famous phrase “Victory or Death.”

Only 32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for help, and beginning at 5:30 a.m. on March 6, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo through a gap in the fort’s outer wall, killing Travis, Bowie and 190 of their men. Despite the loss of the fort, the Texan troops managed to inflict huge losses on their enemy, killing at least 600 of Santa Ana’s men.

The brave defense of the Alamo became a powerful symbol for the Texas revolution, helping the rebels turn the tide in their favor. At the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 910 Texan soldiers commanded by Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana’s army of 1,250 men, spurred on by cries of “Remember the Alamo!” The next day, after Texan forces captured Santa Ana himself, the general issued orders for all Mexican troops to pull back behind the Rio Grande River. On May 14, 1836, Texas officially became an independent republic.

And with that, I present to you Marty Robbins and his hit from 1960, “Ballad of the Alamo.”

Lyrics

In the southern part of Texas
In the town of San Antone
There’s a fortress all in ruins that the weeds have overgrown
You may look in vain for crosses and you’ll never see a-one
But sometimes between the setting and the rising of the sun
You can hear a ghostly bugle
As the men go marching by
You can hear them as they answer
To that roll call in the sky.

Colonel Travis, Davy Crockett, and a hundred eighty more
Captain Dickinson, Jim Bowie
Present and accounted for.

Back in 1836, Houston said to Travis
“Get some volunteers and go
Fortify the Alamo.”
Well the men came from Texas
And from old Tennessee
And they joined up with Travis
Just to fight for the right to be free.

Indian scouts with squirrel guns
Men with muzzle-loaders
Stood together, heel and toe
To defend the Alamo.

“You may ne’er see your loved ones,”
Travis told them that day
“Those who want to can leave now
Those who fight to the death let ’em stay.”

In the sand he drew a line
With his army sabre
Out of a hundred eighty five
Not a soldier crossed the line
With his banners a-dancin’
In the dawn’s golden light
Santa Anna came prancing
On a horse that was black as the night.

Sent an officer to tell
Travis to surrender
Travis answered with a shell
And a rousing rebel yell
Santa Anna turned scarlet
“Play deguello!” he roared
“I will show them no quarter
Every one will be put to the sword!”

One hundred and eighty five
Holding back five thousand
Five days, six days, eight days, ten
Travis held and held again
Then he sent for replacements
For his wounded and lame
But the troops that were coming
Never came, never came, never came…

Twice he charged and blew recall
On the fatal third time
Santa Anna breached the wall
And he killed ’em, one and all
Now the bugles are silent
And there’s rust on each sword
And the small band of soldiers…

Lie asleep in the arms of the Lord…

In the southern part of Texas
Near the town of San Antone
Like a statue on his pinto rides a cowboy all alone
And he sees the cattle grazing where a century before
Santa Anna’s guns were blazing and the cannons used to roar
And his eyes turn sorta misty
And his heart begins to glow
And he takes his hat off slowly…

To the men of Alamo.

To the thirteen days of glory
At the siege of Alamo…

Hip hop and rap should study Marty Robbins (and others) to learn how to write lyrics.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mother & Father Nature also were having margaritas yesterday!

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yesterday was National Margarita Day, and quite a few restaurants were enticing me to visit their location with margarita specials.

Ultimately, Jim and I decided that On The Border in El Cajon would have the pleasure of our company for the evening.

In all the decades that I have been patronizing On The Border in Texas, California, and elsewhere, I do believe I have never seen one as busy as yesterday evening.

Fortunately, Mother & Father Nature were putting on a show for us with a spectacular sunset, so waiting outside for thirty minutes was no big deal.

You knew I had my camera with me, right?

About fifteen minutes elapsed between each picture, which means that for the last picture, I actually had to quit drinking my margarita to go outside to get the picture just for you!

Sunset on National Margarita Day (2-23-14) in El Cajon California IMG_2410 (Custom) IMG_2415 (Custom)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ready? Set? ACTION!

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Back in the days of film photography, my wise old grandmother would bring a bunch of photographs home from the drug store, sit down at the dining room table, and go to town identifying the photographs and placing them carefully in her many scrapbooks and photo albums using photo corners. I do believe she had the greatest collection of photo corners in the world. I know she had corners in clear, white, gold, and black.

If something new came along, she was the first to buy it and try it. I remember when she discovered rubber cement. All her packages of photo corners were sold at her next garage sale. (Smile if you used to have fun rummaging around at neighborhood garage sales instead of today’s monster flea markets and swap meets.)

Even with digital photography, though, some people (me for example) still like photo corners. Here’s Zoey the Cool Cat demonstrating the photo corners that I have been using over the past couple of years:

Cat & mouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can get those photo corners via an Action in Photoshop. Takes all of one keyboard shortcut and about two seconds of time.

Recently I learned of some new photo corner Actions by PanosFX.com. The email they sent me, which was captured in my spam folder, showed some pretty cool photo corner Actions, so I went to their site to see if they had a free trial download, which they do. Unfortunately, the free trial software has only one photo corner Action whereas the full version has over 50 photo corner Actions. Here is Zoey the Cool Cat, again, demonstrating the one photo corner Action in the free version:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I believe my wise old grandmother would have loved the world of digital photography and photoshopping.

The full version of these “photo slit” Actions by PanosFX.com costs 10.90 Euros. According to Google, 1 Euro equals 1.37 U.S. dollars, so 10.90 Euros equates to $14.97. I believe I can afford that.

PanosFX.com has a lot of other software, too, that allows you to make puzzles, cubes, and postage stamps complete with postmarks and envelopes. Hmmm. Postage stamps complete with postmarks and envelopes. Hmmm. Well, heck. I think I can afford that, too, since it’s only 7.90 Euros.

Long-time readers know that I love postage stamps. Here’s Zoey the Cool Cat (yet one more time) demonstrating my postage stamp frame:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was so proud of my postage stamp frame, but now that I know that someone has gone a step further and created postmarks and envelopes in addition to postage stamps, I’m sad and depressed.

Maybe I should just buy their whole bundle collection of 12 software collections for just 65.90 Euros. That’s $90.52. Hmmmm. I might have to wait until after today’s 12:00 noon home inspection before I can afford the complete bundle……………..lol

Anyway, go check out PanosFX.com to see all the wonderful stuff they have. You might find something you like for a price you can afford.

Ready?………………

Set?…………………..

ACTION!

PanosFX

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

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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

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos