Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Photographer career began in sixth grade in 1966.

Macro photography – Raindrops, but not on roses

I live in my own little world

The fact that San Diego gets about eleven inches of rain each year is one of the reasons why I moved here in April 1993 from Texas, where eleven inches of rain sometimes was an afternoon thunderstorm.

Here in the East San Diego County boondocks, though, we get a little more rain. In fact, over two days in February this year, my rain gauge indicated that we got nine inches of rain. Certainly haven’t had to deal with that in 25 years.

There are only two good things about rain: my plants love it, and I love taking macro pictures of raindrops on those plants. Following are ten macro raindrop pictures from February 2018. The first picture won first place in the Photography category at the June 2018 show of the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society. The last one (remember, there are ten pictures) might not be safe for work.

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

Macro of raindrops on plants

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

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Friday Flower Fiesta (11-16-18)

Friday Flower Fiesta

We have been in our new home since July 2017. I spent most of the last year landscaping, and plants have been flowering for me. From my gardens over the last couple of months

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

Flowers from Russel's gardens

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

Out & About — Carlsbad Village Faire & Woogie’s Place

Out & About San Diego

When I was but a youth of 12 or 13, my wise old grandmother, having adopted me when I was 10½, told me about stereotypes. One thing she said stuck with me: “Stereotypes come from somewhere.” In the ensuing fifty years, I believe she was right. Stereotypes are not 100% true, but I think they do fit a supermajority of their target population.

I mention stereotypes because I do fit very strongly as a stereotype of one specific population: the gay shopper. Yes, I love to shop, and since my husband and I are almost to 25 years together, the last 10 being legally married, I’m a gay shopper.

My favorite shopping is at swap meets, garage sales, and street faires. I don’t go to garage sales anymore because I feel guilty if I leave without buying anything. If swap meets had better parking accommodations, I would attend the two biggest ones here in San Diego County every week, without fail. So I’m relegate to mall shopping and street faires.

One of my favorite street faires is the Carlsbad Village Faire, which actually is two street faires, one in May and one in November. The November 2018 Faire occurred on Sunday, November 4. It’s an extraordinarily popular event with over 900 vendors selling anything and everything. The City closes about 16 square blocks of downtown, allowing walkers to shop without fear of being run over. Even Amtrak, which usually cruises through downtown at 70 mph, slows to about 20 mph on Faire Day. It’s a shopper’s delight.

Since I live 40 miles from Carlsbad, and knowing that parking is at a premium on Faire days, I left home at 5:30 a.m. and found a very good parking spot just a block south of the Faire. Although the Faire doesn’t officially open until 8:00 a.m., one can walk around earlier, watch people set up, check out what’s where, and make a list of vendors one wishes to visit once 8:00 a.m. arrives.

I started walking around at 7:30 and had made it through both sides of four blocks when a vendor with cute little cactus and succulent knickknacks caught my attention, especially these two:

Woogie's Place

Woogie's Place

I wanted to buy both of them but did not. They were within my budget but I could not picture a place for them at home since my home, both inside and outside, is full of growing plants.

The name of the vendor is Woogie’s Place, and they had a huge selection of cute little items, each one screaming at me to take it home.

Three succulents from Woogie's Place

Woogie's Place at the November 2018 Carlsbad Village Faire

Woogie's Place at the November 2018 Carlsbad Village Faire

Woogie's Place at the November 2018 Carlsbad Village Faire

Woogie's Place at the November 2018 Carlsbad Village Faire

I did buy a cute collection of three smaller ones:

Three succulents from Woogie's Place

I visualized them on the platform under my monster television, and, indeed, that is where they sit.

(Mama mia! Looks like I need to clean the TV screen!) Gretchen and Rhonda were the kindest, sweetest two women who helped me by not only selling me my items BEFORE the official opening of the Faire, but they held them for me so I could continue walking around and shopping without carrying things that could break.

Gretchen (left) and Rhonda
Gretchen and Rhonda of Woogie's Place at the November 2018 Carlsbad Village Faire

Woogie’s Place is online at etsy. Check ’em out!

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

Out & About — They got their kicks on Route 66, and stayed….

Out & About The World

Before the Interstate system came along, Barstow, California, was a thriving city on Route 66, the Mother Road. Barstow’s main purpose now seems to be as a major railroad junction, and visiting the historic railroad yard was my main purpose in going to Barstow this past July.

I stayed at a little Route 66 Motel:

Route 66 Motel

The motel celebrates its association with historic Route 66 using historic items, especially vehicles.

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Interestingly, most of these historic vehicles were taking up parking places, which seems to indicate that the motel doesn’t have a lot of business. Another way to look at this is that these folks in their cars got their kicks on Route 66, and stayed….

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

Out & About — My new best. pizza. ever.

Out & About San Diego

I’m pretty sure that I was eating pizza at the age of one day. Gerber’s had to have a pizza flavor baby food mush when I was young.

My favorite is barbecued chicken pizza, a culinary delight that I discovered in 1989 when Café Eccell opened in Bryan, Texas. I lived and worked just a mile away so I visited often.

Café Eccell always had been #1 on my list of top pizza restaurants, until yesterday, when I discovered NAPIZZA.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

NAPIZZA a new restaurant in San Diego’s largest mall, UTC, currently adding over 90 stores and doubling its size by adding a second story.

I love barbecue chicken pizza, so that’s what I had. Sadly, I ate all of my pizza at the restaurant without taking a picture. Fortunately, I brought a slice home with me:

BBQ pizza from NAPIZZA at UTC in La Jolla, California

They call their pizza “Roman style,” and apparently it is made in advance and 80% cooked.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

When you order a slice, they finish cooking it. So it’s fast and fresh at the same time. What an interesting concept.

As you can see in the picture, they don’t skimp on the toppings. What really pushed their pizza up into my #1 spot was the crust. I’m not a fan of greasy pizzas or soggy crusts. I do like flavorful crusts. The crust on my slice was, perhaps, not as flavorful as some other pizzas I have had (the names of which I won’t state here since I have been boycotting them for eight years and don’t want to give them any free advertising or Google SEO), but the crust was to die for because of its crispy flakiness. My wise old grandmother would have wanted such a crust on her wonderful pies.

I also enjoyed sitting in the restaurant and reading their two huge murals about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

The prices were extraordinarily reasonable, too, especially considering that this was UTC in La Jolla, a place not known for having reasonable prices for anyone but the extraordinarily wealthy.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

They also have locations in Little Italy (a closer location to me), 4S Commons in 4S Ranch, and Encinitas. I rarely get to 4S Ranch, but I definitely shall be visiting the Little Italy and Encinitas locations, as well as going back to the UTC location.

Try them, and tell them you heard about them from your favorite blogger. I am your favorite blogger, yes?

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

Del Taco in Barstow, California

Out & About — Just where DID Del Taco start?

Out & About The World

When I was in Barstow, California, the last two days of July, just down the block from the cute little Route 66 motel that I stayed in was a Del Taco.

Del Taco in Barstow, California

I have not eaten at a Del Taco since I left Texas in April 1993, possibly because I used to eat at the one in College Station, Texas, virtually every day. Since I was trying to escape the Great Nation of Texas, eating at Del Taco would remind me too much of that state.

I was on my way down to the historic Barstow railroad yard but there were a lot of homeless people in the area. One of them asked me if I had any change. I did not, but I had a credit card and offered to buy him supper. He accepted. I told him he could order anything he wanted, but I don’t think he did. I think he was simply grateful for a meal. While he was ordering and waiting, I walked to the seating area because there was a large mural on the wall. Looked like this:

Del Taco in Barstow, California

After reading the mural, I logged onto Wikipedia to read all about Del Taco. According to Wikipedia, the first Del Taco was opened in Yermo, twelve miles east of Barstow, on September 16, 1964. Its success led to the opening of two restaurants in Barstow. That left me dissatisfied with this location claiming that “it all started in Barstow.” Apparently it did not; it all started in Yermo. City rivalry perhaps?

The mural says that Del Taco started in 1961 as Taco Tia.

I could find no verification for that. The only Taco Tia I could find was Taco-Tia, an early name for Taco Bell, Del Taco’s rival. In fact, the 1961 verbiage on the mural is identical to the 1964 verbiage on Del Taco’s current web site.

From the mural in the restaurant:
From the mural in the restaurant

From Del Taco’s web site:
From Del Taco's web site

Considering the location of this Del Taco in Barstow, 401 N. First Avenue, I suspect that it is, indeed, the first Del Taco in Barstow, so probably the second Del Taco overall.

A Google search brought up three videos about the first Del Taco in Yermo, and the first one I watched gave me an address: 38434 Yermo Road. The video, uploaded to YouTube on January 21, 2018, says that there currently is a restaurant there called Burger Den. In this still, taken from a YouTube video uploaded on July 21, 2017, you can see the Burger Den sign and an old Del Taco sign:

Del Taco/Burger Den

I’m going to go with the Yermo location being the very first Del Taco and the Barstow location simply practicing a little sibling rivalry.

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

Exhibiting cacti & succulents at the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Show

I live in my own little world

My last post was on October 21. It’s been a long three weeks, most of it having to do with gardening.

The big event was October 27-29. I was getting ready for the Fall Show & Sale for the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society.

These shows are heavy on succulents and short on cacti. The main reason for that is because cacti are difficult to move with all their spines & thorns pointing every which way. Not paying attention, not being careful, can result in some serious and painful skin punctures.

My intent was to exhibit a lot of cacti to make sure that the cactus side of the show room was full. I spent the month leading up to the event cleaning and repotting show-worthy cacti.

I was hoping to enter 50 cactus specimens. Ultimately, I only entered 44 exhibits – 31 were in the Cactus category, twelve in the Succulent category, and one in the Dish Garden category. My Dish Garden, though, had five thorny cacti in it; of the twelve in the Succulent category, six had spines; and of the 31 in the Cactus category, one did not have spines. So it’s not always about those pokey pokey things. My intent, though, was to fill up the Cactus category, and I definitely helped do that.

I exhibit in the Advanced class now, and won….
     12 first places,
          9 second places, and
               13 thirds.

Ten of my plants weren’t appreciated by the judges. Sad and depressed those plants are.

My Mammillaria parkinsonii, below, received one of the two Judge’s Choice awards, and tied for second for the People’s Choice award.

Mammillaria parkinsonii, Judge's Choice & People's Choice second place

…..was awarded the Granddaddy of them all, BEST IN SHOW, my Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’.

Crassula ovata 'Gollum' Best In Show

I created a video of all the plants I exhibited in the show, although I didn’t find out about the second place People’s Choice until recently, so although it’s in the video with its Judge’s Choice award, it’s not in the video with its People’s Choice second place.

Here’s the video:

Russel’s 44 exhibits 

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