Monthly Archives: December 2019

I think I have stumbled

Cover of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" by Russel RayI had so much fun three months this past summer while I was writing my book, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, that I decided recently to write another book, tentatively titled SSS: Southwest Succulent Staycation. However, in order to write that book, I have to visit quite a few places in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah to take pictures.

If I’m going to leave home and drive for a long distance, I would prefer to do a lot of things on the same trip. For example, to get to Utah, I have to go through Nevada. I’d rather not make one trip to Utah and then another trip to Nevada.

That started me thinking, which always is dangerous with me.

PR flyerI decided I would simply catalog all the pictures I do have to make it easier to decide what areas I actually need to go to take pictures. While I’m doing that, I also can send my Nature’s Geometry: Succulents flyer to all the horticulture clubs, plant clubs, gardening clubs, and cactus & succulent clubs in those four states in an effort to get invited to make a presentation to their clubs.

If the Ogden Garden Club invites me, I could turn that into a photographic journey and visit a lot of places in Utah on the way to Ogden.

A presentation to the Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society would allow me to visit Organ Pipe National Monument, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and so many other treat places in Arizona that are on my list.

All of that is well and good, but that would mean I wouldn’t be writing a book until 2021 or 2022. I could be pretty bored between now and then. As I was cataloging some pictures, I got the idea for a shorter book that could be written immediately. Then the mail arrived, bringing three books that I had ordered; two of them pretty much are useless for my purposes. The third, however, confirmed my idea. It’s titled Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.

Growing Patterns

The book is only 32 pages and the text is in a half-inch font. Very little text, mostly pictures. In other words, it’s a children’s book.

A-ha! (not the group).

A children’s book! It would be much easier to write and I could begin immediately after a few more dreams…. Yes, dreams.

Whenever I need to think deeply about something, I go to bed when I’m not tired. Thus, I won’t fall asleep. I’ll simply dream about what I want to do, and additional ideas pop into my mind.

I guess it’s a form of daydreaming since I’m what the medical community calls a polyphasic sleeper. In other words, I never sleep more than three or four hours, and that’s very rare. Usually I take a 30-60 minute nap and then work for 3-4 hours. Repeat throughout the day, every day, 24/7, 365 days (except in leap years, 366 days).

I have had several dreams about this idea so far and I’m almost settled on what I want to do: A children’s book titled (tentatively) Numbers, Letters, Colors & Shapes: Nature helps your child learn.

I’m thinking for ages up to 8. I’ll entertain comments about the age.

Stapelia grandifloraNumbers could be the numbers of petals in a flower, number of plants in a landscape, number of tree branches….

Letters could be apple, bear, cat, dog, elephant, fox, goat, horse, igloo….

I could get flora and fauna representing every color on a color wheel….

There are so many shapes in flora and fauna: circles, stars, triangles….

Since it is a children’s book, it should be rather short. Letters would need to be at least 26 pages, so maybe this idea could morph into four children’s books:

        1. Nature Teaches
          Numbers
        2. Nature Teaches
          Letters
        3. Nature Teaches
          Colors
        4. Nature Teaches
          Shapes

Gyrfalcon at Hawk Watch in Ramona CA on 1/5/19I might be able to make this into 8 books:

        1. Animals Teach
          Numbers
        2. Animals Teach
          Letters
        3. Animals Teach
          Colors
        4. Animals Teach
          Shapes
        5. Plants Teach
          Numbers
        6. Plants Teach
          Letters
        7. Plants Teach
          Colors
        8. Plants Teach
          Shapes

I think I might have stumbled upon a way to use the billions of pictures I have!

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden—A Review

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden
A Review

Hippos at the Los Angeles ZooI became a fan of zoos after my first visit to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, in summer 1966. If I had never seen a giraffe, or an elephant, or a rhinoceros, or a hippopotamus…. I never would have taken such an interest in their plight in the world.

Chimpanzees at the Los Angeles ZooA couple of years later, a real live monkey showed up in our yard. My wise old grandmother told me to give it a banana. I though that was only in cartoons. The darn thing ate it. And as with just about any animal, if you feed it, it’s yours.

That monkey stayed in the trees in our back yard for several months. I named it Cheetah.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical GardenThen, one day, people showed up to take Cheetah. They were people from the San Antonio Zoo. A monkey was considered an exotic pet, and exotic pets were not allowed in Kingsville, Texas. We had to let them capture Cheetah and take him away.

When San Antonio hosted Hemisfair in 1968, I convinced my wise old grandmother to take me to San Antonio. Sure I wanted to go to Hemisfair, but more importantly to this little boy, I wanted to go to the San Antonio Zoo to see Cheetah.

Serval at the Los Angeles ZooI don’t know whether or not Cheetah recognized me, but to this day I believe he did. All one has to do is watch YouTube videos about animals recognizing those who rescued them, fed them, and cared for them, even after being separated from them for weeks, months, and, in one case, 11 years. Yeah, our animals that we care for know who we are.

Los Angeles ZooYesterday, Jim and I went to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden. I had never been to the Los Angeles Zoo, but since I have been going to the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park on a regular basis for 26½ years, I already knew that the Los Angeles Zoo didn’t have anything that I had not already seen. Thus, my main interest was in the Botanical Garden aspect of the zoo with the possible intent of including a section in my forthcoming book, SSS: Southwest Succulent Staycation.

Ostrich at the Los Angeles ZooThe Los Angeles Zoo opened in 1966, so it’s about fifty years younger than the San Diego Zoo. However, at 133 acres, it is 33 acres larger. However, there are only about 1,400 animals residing at the Los Angeles Zoo. After walking the whole zoo yesterday, I would guess that about 70 acres is simply unused land. Jim and I always are tired after a trip to the San Diego Zoo. We didn’t experience that after walking the Los Angeles Zoo.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical GardenI was disappointed in the zoo but I might be unreasonably comparing it to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. The L.A. Zoo was quite busy yesterday. However, it needs a serious cleaning, including a parking lot renovation. The asphalt probably is the original asphalt from when the zoo opened in 1966. The whole place was overgrown with weeds. Deciduous trees had dropped all their leaves; unfortunately, all over the exhibits, making a mess of them, making a mess of any horticultural exhibits beneath the trees, making a mess of the various play areas for children.

Notwithstanding all the problems, there were several things that made the visit worthwhile:

      1. I now have been to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden.
      2. The birds show was excellent because it featured birds that you won’t be seeing in your back yard: two African vultures (huge birds!) and a California Condor (another huge bird!)
      3. Although many of the botanical gardens were weedy and covered with leaves, I did get enough good pictures for my book.
      4. The giraffe feeding line was very long, and having fed the giraffes at the San Diego Zoo, I can tell you that feeding giraffes is quite an experience. This final picture shows a little girl feeding a giraffe. I believe this little girl will grow up with an appreciation of wildlife—my appreciation of wildlife started by feeding a monkey. Perhaps this little girl will get a college degree in wildlife conservation, maybe even work in a zoo providing this type of experience to the next generation.

Feeding a giraffe at the Los Angeles Zoo

All pictures in this post were taken by me
at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden
on December 29, 2019.

Climate change?

Picture of the Moment

People usually don’t associate rain and snow with San Diego. Quite true with the city of San Diego. The county, however, is another story. There are mountains in east San Diego County that top out at 6,271 feet elevation. That’s high enough to get plenty of rain and snow.

Where I live at 682′ elevation, Mother & Father Nature have provided me with 70.3 inches of rain in 2019, of which 23.3 inches has arrived since November 19.

Rain at this time of the year usually means snow just 20 miles east of me.

In the 26½ years I have been in San Diego, I never fail to go visit the snowy mountains once a year.

This year has been completely different because we had significant snow in the mountains in February, November, and December, so I have been three times.

New Year’s Eve is supposed to bring another huge storm, so I might start off 2020 by heading to the snowy mountains.

Climate change?

I like snow as long as it’s about 20 miles away from me, I can go visit it, and I can come back to a warm home with a warm cat on my lap.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite snow pictures from 2019.

Mount Laguna National Recreation AreaMount Laguna National Recreation Area

Thin ice
Thin ice

Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Laguna
Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Laguna, California

Snow people in the Cuyamaca Mountains
Snow people in the Cuyamaca Mountains

City slickers in the snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
City slickers enjoying the country snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California

Snowy Lake CuyamacaSnowy Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego County

City slickers clogging the roadway in Cuyamaca Mountains
Traffic in the snow Cuyamaca Mountains

Poor cacti
Cacti in the snow in Pine Valley, California

My poor car
2017 Toyota Corolla in the snow

Mommy told him to put on his coat
Dog in the snow

My poor feet
My poor feet

Are you happy?

Cats

Today is the most important day on the cat calendar. Happy Boxing Day!

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat in her new box

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat, Olympic boxing champion

I believe Little Queen Olivia is the world’s only cat that does not like boxes. In the six months she has lived here, I caught her in a box only once, and then for only a few seconds, just long enough for me to take a picture. She seems to be saying, “See! I am a cat! Are you happy?”

Little Queen Olivia

Nature’s Geometry: Star-tetrahedron

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" front cover

In my never-ending quest for finding geometry in nature, I recently found a star-tetrahedron in the flowers of a Hoya pubicalyx ‘Red Buttons.’ Here are the flowers:

Hoya pubicalyx 'Red Buttons'

The star-tetrahedron is a three-dimensional figure, represented in two dimensions thusly:

Star-tetrahedron

The flowers create a three-dimensional ball, so if I could wrap a three-dimensional star-tetrahedron around the flower ball, I’d be willing to bet that everything would line up almost perfectly.

Since I can’t do that, I have to settle for a two-dimensional picture of the hoya flowers and a two-dimensional representation of a star-tetrahedron. But, with special thanks to Photoshop, everything lines up pretty nicely when I superimpose that star-tetrahedron representation on top of the two-dimensional picture of the flowers:

Star-tetrahedron superimposed on Hoya pubicalyx 'Red Buttons'

It’s too late to put this in my book, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, but it’s not too late to put it in my Powerpoint presentation for the cactus & succulent clubs that I will be talking to next year.

Will always miss Zoey the Cool Cat

Cats

On June 23, 2019, at 6:35 p.m., I was holding Zoey the Cool Cat in my arms at the vet’s office. She let out a final little snort as her head nestled into the crook of my arm and she started her journey over the Rainbow Bridge.

Will always miss the Cool Cat. She brought so much joy and laughter into my life with my husband, Jim.

Following are ten of my favorite pictures of her. The first was taken about three hours after we had brought her home from the El Cajon Animal Shelter on September 21, 2007. Her name was Zoey, but I added “the Cool Cat” after taking the picture. I think she had decided to stay in our home.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat on a pedastal

Zoey the Cool Cat stamp

Zoey the Cool Cat stalking a mourning dove

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat enjoying her catio

Zoey the Cool Cat, Olympic boxing champion

Merry Christmas!

Zoey the Cool Cat

If you are new to my blog
and would like to know more about
Zoey the Cool Cat,
here are all my blog posts featuring her.
Here are my three posts about her final days,