SNIPPETS (5-6-18)



Back in 1966, I stopped by a field on the way home from school and picked some flowers for my wise old grandmother. She was appreciative but also upset. She told me that if I loved the flowers, I should leave them in the field to grow and produce seeds so we’ll have more flowers. I think that was our first conversation about the birds and the bees………

So I’ve never been a fan of cut flowers. However, when a flower falls off or is pulled of by, uh, a ground squirrel or rabbit, I’m not averse to picking it up and putting it in a glass of water

I bought several cactus and succulents at the Huntington Gardens plant sale last Sunday in San Marino. One had a beautiful orange flower on it. Due to high-speed Southern California driving for two hours (one has to drive with the prevailing speed), the cactus fell over and broke the flower off. Saved the flower, and it’s looked amazing for three days.

Cactus flower


If you have never been to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Garden in San Marino, California (northeast of downtown Los Angeles, near Pasadena), I can highly recommend it. In fact, I think it should be on everyone’s Bucket List.

The property comprises 207 acres, of which 120 acres are gardens. I could spend a day wandering around the gardens. I did spend a day wandering around the gardens! My favorite plant during my visit last Sunday was the Tower of Jewels (Echium  sp.):

Tower of Jewels (Echium sp.)


Yesterday, 25 members of the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society were treated to a private tour of Western Cactus, the nation’s largest cactus grower. Wow! What an experience. Following are a couple of pictures inside two of their 50 green houses. Those are hundreds of trays full of many thousands of cactus seedlings.

Western Cactus of Vista, California

Western Cactus of Vista, California


I accidentally stepped into a low branch of this 4-foot tall “Fat Boy” cactus yesterday. I can definitively tell you that those long spines hurt like hell. I have seven puncture wounds, and that poor ankle still is hurting.

Fat Boy cactus


Out in the wild, only about one in a thousand cactus seeds germinates and grows into a plant. It’s tough out there. It’s only marginally better in a greenhouse simply because caretakers can’t care for each seedling individually, so there will be natural die-off. Here are seed trays containing a thousand cactus seedlings of Astrophytum myriostigma each.

Aastrophytum myriostigma seedlings about 3 weeks old.


And here is a picture from Wikipedia of what those seedlings will grow into; vastly different. Bishop’s Cap photo by Petar43 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Bishop's Cap


I have 50+ years of botany experience, so I know that cacti are dicots, which means that their seeds will send up two cotyledons to take care of photosynthesis while the seed grows into a little plant and then starts its own photosynthesis.

However, until yesterday, I had never seen the cotyledons of a cactus seed. I used a 90mm macro lens on my Canon 760D to get this picture of two half-inch tall cacti still growing out of their cotyledons, which seem to be quite a bit plumper than, say, sweet pea or corn cotyledons, both of which I’m very familiar with.

Cactus cotyledons


I haven’t had a true passion since 2001 when I started my home inspection business. Sadly, due to the 1% jerk Realtors, the 1% jerk home inspectors in the trade associations, and the 1% jerk buying/selling Clients, that passion lasted only for about 3 years. Then it became just a job, a way to pay the bills, buy a new car every other year, and buy my annual membership to the San Diego Zoo.

It’s just amazing how the 1% can ruin everything for the rest of us. President Twitler and his ilk are great examples.


Western Cactus is  wholesale only. They ship cactus to retail entities throughout the world. The smallest cactus they ship is in a 4-inch plastic pot, which retail nurseries then re-plant into larger pots (so they can charge more) or decorative pots that add perceived value.

The first picture is of cactus in their 4-inch growing trays ready to be pulled and planted in 4-inch pots. The second picture are plants that have been pulled from the growing trays and are ready to be put in 4-inch plastic pots. The third picture are plants in those 4-inch plastic pots and ready to be shipped out to your local nursery. The pictures are of three different cactus species.

Western Cactus

Western Cactus

Western Cactus


Well isn’t Zoey the Cool Cat just a special little queen enjoying her private catio.

Zoey the Cool Cat


I seem to be noticing cacti & succulents like I’ve never noticed them before. Here’s a huge Opuntia (Prickly Pear) growing in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I would not be surprised if this one was planted in 1827 when Casa de Estudillo, where it was located, was planted. They certainly never grew this tall in my hometown of Kingsville TX.

Opuntia in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park


I had a margarita for Cinco de Mayo. You knew that, though, right? I had it in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park where I was serenaded by a Mexican trio playing “Tequila!” Here’s the trio, surrounded by cacti & succulents, and the song:



Why are we allowing for-profit companies to litter our streets with these ugly bikes? I call them “litter bikes.” One can’t move them if one wants to take a picture, and they are so ugly that one is encouraged not to take the pictures, notwithstanding how expert one might be with Photoshop.

Litter bikes


Today’s “Still Life” by Russel Ray Photos. I might have to question the part about “clean” since this was litter.

Clean, polite, and honest

The fine for littering is $1,000. Here’s my take on the litterer’s conversation with the litter police:

Litterer: Throws litter on the ground
Litter Police: “Hey, you! I just saw you throw that on the ground!”
Litterer: “Wasn’t me.”
Litter Police: “I saw you!”
Litterer: “You can’t possibly have been watching me and only me with these thousands of people here.”
Litter Police: “I don’t have to be watching only you. I only have to have my eyes on you as you’re littering.”
Litterer: “Wasn’t me.”
Litter Police: “All you have to do is pick it up and put it in the trash and we can end this.”
Litterer: “I’m not picking it up. It’s not mine! And who knows where it’s been or how long it’s been there or what kind of germs are on it.”
Litter Police: “I’ll pick it up and put it in the trash. However, I suggest you go home now because once a litterer always a litterer, and I’m going to follow you for the rest of the time that you’re here.”


I grew up in Kingsville, Texas, just 70 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border. Lots of dry, desert land down there, so I’m quite experienced with Opuntia cactus poking holes in my arms and legs. That was 45+ years ago, so it’s been many decades since I had growing experience with Opuntia. In my old age, I’ve been kind of out of the OUCH! stage of my life since I don’t heal as quickly as I did decades ago. Yesterday, though, I saw Opuntia quimilo at Home Depot. I call it Opuntia Wowthosearesomelongspinesii. $14.48. I had to buy it.

Opuntia quimilo


After 24 years with AOL, I’m now ready to close that email account. Unfortunately, AOL provides no way to do that. It’s one of their free accounts.

Anyone have any ideas?

The first 100 pages of a Google search (yes, I went through 100 pages!) provided no help; everything was out of date or not relevant to the free accounts.


In Spring 1976, I had Professor Phil Gramm for Economics 301 at Texas A&M University. He went on to become United States Senator Phil Gramm. I disliked him and his class. One thing he constantly emphasized to us, though, had nothing to do with Economics:

“All politicians lie. It’s part of the job description for getting elected and re-elected. What you have to do is determine whose lies you like the best and then vote for that person.”

Twitler and his ilk, though, have taken lying to a level never before seen. All these liars lying about the lies they told to cover up the lies about the lies. It’s like lies are becoming the norm in America. It’s amazing that I will believe a porn star before I believe the President of the United States.


Here is my third attempt as the Newsletter Editor of the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society:

May newsletter for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society

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

12 thoughts on “SNIPPETS (5-6-18)

  1. Pit

    Good morning, Russel,
    I love the Prickly Pears – but only when I can stay away from them far enough. I like to take pictures of the blossoms []. Unfortunately, when w wer still living down in Karnes County, we had quite a few on our property an all too often I came too close. 😦 Here in Fredericksburg we have a part of our property we call the “wildflower area”, which we mow only once ot twice a year so that the wildflowers have a chance. There, we also have some cacti.
    Have a wonderful day,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darlene Jones

    I’ve always loved cacti, but your posts are making me love them even more. I have two cacti snippets. #1 My father got some plants from the Drumheller area of Alberta, brought them home to the freezing depths of Edmonton (we did have summers too) and planted them in front of the garage which got a lot of sun. They survived for many years. #2 I love jade plants and tried (unsuccessfully) to grow them at home. We went to Old Town San Diego and I was utterly amazed to see jades that were taller than my children (over 4 feet). Would have loved to take one of them home, but how to fit them in the overhead luggage bin?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gallivanta

    A very comprehensive newsletter, enhanced by lovely photographs. And, yes, a pity about the 1%. Bad as that 1% is, I think we have to invent another percentage to cover the awfulness of President Trump. He’s in a class of his own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      It’s been many decades since I have had plants with sharp, pointy things on them so I’m learning all over again that I need to be careful around them and plant them in the far corners of the yard where I can’t get to them.


  4. Roxie

    always enjoy reading your posts, and love the subtly: those prickly cacti and potus chief, well you know.
    hope your feet steer clear of additional stings and you can keep snapping those beauties.

    Liked by 1 person


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