Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Photographer career began in sixth grade in 1966.

Picture of the Moment—Poor snake

When I was in Utah in May, I visited Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake.

It doesn’t look to be an island when looking at maps, but whatever.

There is a lot of wildlife on Antelope Island, including a bison herd numbering several hundred and, of course, antelope.

On my way to see the bison herd, a black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia, also known as American magpie) was snacking on this snake in the middle of the road.

It was so into its meal that it let me get quite close to get this picture.

Black-billed magpie eating a snake

Advertisements
Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

Order proof book—check.

I finished my book this past Monday. I changed the cover from dark green to dark brown.

Jeff Moore’s book, Spiny Succulents, has a dark green background, courtesy of me when I was doing the final editing and design layout, so I didn’t want it to look like I copied his book.

The new cover looks like this:

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

I ordered a proof book on Wednesday, but it will take a couple of weeks to get here. Meanwhile, I’ll have to find something else to do, like, perhaps, playing with Queen Olivia, if she ever decides to quit sleeping.

Queen Olivia

Oreocereus trollii

Out & About—The 34th Annual Inter-City Cactus & Succulent Show

Out & About

Although I have been collecting, growing, killing, and destroying plants since 1962 or so, it wasn’t until around 1968 that I started specializing in cacti & succulents.

In my retirement years, which began on January 1, 2017, I have been extraordinarily bored. That boredom has led me to develop even more my interest in cacti & succulents, so much more that I’m now entering my cacti & succulents in competitive shows. I’m doing fairly well, having received many first, second and third place ribbons, as well as a Judge’s Choice ribbon and a Best in Show ribbon.

This past weekend, I entered 33 plants/items in 28 categories at the 34th Annual Inter-City Cactus & Succulent Show at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. It is the largest cactus & succulent show in the nation, and probably the world, and probably ranks as one of the largest plant shows, as well.

Founded in 1985, the Inter-City show combines the expertise of members from the Long Beach Cactus Club, the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society, and the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society. I belong to the Long Beach Cactus Club, which was founded in 1933 and is the oldest cactus & succulent club in the nation.

According to the show’s rules, I am a novice, simply because I haven’t been entering competitive shows for very long, so I don’t have the 41 first place ribbons from competitive shows that would bump me up to their Advanced category.

Out of my 28 entries, I came home with 5 first place ribbons, 10 second place ribbons, and 3 third place ribbons, as well as one of the prestigious “Outstanding” show plant ribbon. I also won a “Trophy Cup Trifecta” by sweeping first, second, and third place in the Photography, Novice category.

Here is a video I made of my entries in this year’s Inter-City show:

Love the dang horse

Music on Mondays (8/12/19)—Love the dang horse!

Music has been a significant part of my life throughout my life.

I started piano lessons at the age of two under the tutelage of my mother who played piano and organ.

At the age of six, I started violin lessons.

At the age of ten, I started voice lessons.

For 25 years I have been married to a pianist who has bachelor and master degrees in piano performance, accompanies voice and instrument students in private practice, has served as accompanist at San Diego State University, and has been in a chamber music trio for the last decade.

In my retirement years, I listen to music for 10-18 hours a day. For the past several years, I have been creating a “Desert Island” flash drive just in case I’m ever lost lost on a desert island—think Gilligan’s Island, or even Lost In Space. Currently there are 1,053 songs on my Desert Island list, but I haven’t added any songs since May 2017 when I added Dig Down by Muse.

I guess I should modify my previous statement: “I haven’t added any songs since May 2017….” until yesterday when I added Love the Dang Horse by Band Argument. “Slides” below is their 2-song release from a couple of days ago. Love the Dang Horse is track 2. Hopscotch is not bad, either, so give both of them a listen. Hopefully, Band Argument will get credit (and royalty money!) by me embedding their music here using their embedding code.

Slides by Band Argument

Band Argument is a local San Diego group.

Sil Damone – Bass / Vox
Jake Kelsoe – MIDI / Guitar
Alex Simonian – MIDI / Guitar
Jordan Krimston – Drums / Samples

I think they were founded in late 2018. I met their drummer, Jordan Krimston, through Julian Rey Saenz, a former employee of mine in 2014 whom many readers might remember. I might also note here that Jordan is an awesome guitarist and quite a good vocalist, too. A multi-talented musician. Look out, Paul McCartney!

Jordan and Julian graduated high school together in June 2016. Julian went off to college while Jordan eschewed college to follow his music passion. I understand both going off to college and following a music passion, so I support them both. Secretly, though, and with 20/20 hindsight, I wish I could have/would have followed my music passion. Anyways….

In reading reviews of this song and Band Argument, I discovered a music genre called math rock. According to the Wikipedia entry,

math rock is a style of indie rock that emerged in the late 1980s in the United States…. Math rock is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), counterpoint, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended, often dissonant, chords.

My only complaint about everything I have heard in the math rock genre is that it is difficult to understand the words, ergo making it difficult for a singer like me to sing along. I would love it if the mixer would put just a little more ooomph into the vocalist. They have published the lyrics, so here they are:

good morning how’s mother? do we still know each other?
the paper tears and they post a notice telling you I see clearly
sinking down through the bedding
a new world under my room
a new world inside my womb

this ink, it flurries. wash the milkshake off
friendly and free strawberries at the scene
hey boyo! operator press the green
I can’t see why you can’t read me thorough and quick
questing to be fuck naturally and sing
123 pickin out ticks suture me to that there cliff

we sink, in flurry
hope she can wake to rise in time for the dew
hey honey! operator tie my shoe
I can’t see why you can’t read me thorough and quick
questing to be fuck naturally and sing

suture me too I’ll say add some salt oh no

I’m thinking that the definition in Wikipedia of math rock needs to be updated, perhaps something like “Vocals are difficult to understand and make no sense.”

Apparently there is a large math rock culture here in San Diego. I’m rooting for Band Argument to rise to the top.

LOVE THE DANG HORSE!

Love the dang horse

“Cats” – Special edition of LIFE magazine available now!

A special edition of LIFE magazine is now available at your local news stand. I searched everywhere online to try to provide a link to an online source so you wouldn’t have to get all spruced up and go out into the world to buy it. Alas, it looks like it’s available only out in the real world. I can highly recommend it, regardless the source.

The bar code says that I paid $13.99 for it. I didn’t know until just now. It’s not just a magazine, though. It’s a great “book” that will be in my library until the day I die. Well worth the $13.99 (plus tax?), and I’ve only read the first 22 (out of 96) pages.

Best quote in the first 22 pages:

“No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.”—Abraham Lincoln

Cats, a LIFE special edition

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Perhaps if we renamed them

Did you know?

About a year ago a friend of mine was out trying to buy milkweeds for her gardens. That reminded me that I wanted a milkweed, too. I went searching but couldn’t find regular, everyday milkweeds at any of the nurseries. I’m thinking that, perhaps, if we were to rename them, say, butterfly bushes, the nurseries might carry them. Anyways……..

The last nursery I stopped at had an interesting tree near the checkout stand. Looked like this:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

I wandered around the nursery looking for plants that I didn’t have, that I needed, that I wanted. I found a few, but I kept coming back to that tree with the Chinese lanterns hanging on it.

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

I had not seen any for sale so I asked about it. The plant lady told me that it was a Gomphocarpus physocarpus, that it was in the milkweed family, and that it always had monarch caterpillars and butterflies on it each year. She said she thought it was about ten years old.

I asked her if she had any for sale. She had “a few in back” so she went to get me one. It was just a little thing on July 17, 2018:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Here is what mine looked like on May 26 when I saw the first monarch butterfly on it:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

It looks like this today, full of Chinese lanterns:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

This thing blooms year-round, and I have seen monarch butterflies on it, lots of caterpillars, but no chrysalises. I’m thinking there might be some predators around who snack on the caterpillars before they can hide in their chrysalises.

Here is a 31-second video of a monarch caterpillar chomping down on it: