Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Forty-five years as a photographer, beginning with yearbook staff in sixth grade.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Picture of the Moment—Zoey the Cool Cat’s official 2018 portrait

Picture of the Moment

Zoey the Cool Cat asked me why I have not featured her in my WordPress blog this year. So, here is the little queen’s official 2018 portrait, one of her favorite poses:

Zoey the Cool Cat

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Picture of the Moment—Be a unique star!

Picture of the Moment

A picture of some teen tiny flowers on one of my succulents, a jade plant (Crassula ovata). Taken with a Tamron 90mm Macro lens.

How many stars can you count on just the one flower? I see 7 but I would not argue with you if you made a case for 8.

I would/could never have seen this without that cool macro lens.

Be more than a star. Be a unique star.

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Music on Mondays—Working for a living

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There are many things I don’t like from my childhood. Okra gumbo, eggplant, salmon croquettes, potato cakes, oatmeal, and grilled cheese sandwiches come immediately to mind. And blue jeans. I had enough of those while living with my wise old grandmother from December 18, 1965, to August 30, 1973, to last me several lifetimes. So I don’t do those anymore.

I also had quite a bit of country music, which could explain why I don’t have an abundance of country music in my non-classical music collection. I probably have no more than one album from any of the country stars, and that album usually is a “Greatest Hits” album. Marty Robbins. Johnny Cash. Hank Williams, Junior & Senior. George Strait. Alabama. Maybe I have more if we include The Eagles in the country category but I tend to put them in “country rock.”

Here’s what is quite possibly my favorite song by Alabama, somewhat prescient in today’s world of Twitler destruction of all things that used to make the United States a great country and a great place to live.

“40-Hour Week (For A Livin’)” by Alabama, 1985

Alabama formed in Fort Payne, Alabama, in 1969 as Wildcountry. Founded by Randy Owen (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and his cousin Teddy Gentry (bass guitar, background vocals), and soon joined by their other cousin, Jeff Cook (lead guitar, fiddle, and keyboards). They changed their name to Alabama in 1977.

Alabama’s greatest success came in the 1980s when they had over 27 number one hits and seven multi-platinum albums. Their first single, “Tennessee River,” began a streak of 21 number one singles, including “Love in the First Degree” (1981), “Mountain Music” (1982), “Dixieland Delight” (1983), “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” (1984) and “Song of the South” (1988).

They have sold over 75 million records, making them the most successful band in country music history.

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Did You Know?—Euphorbia, Datura & Brugmansia

Did you know?

When I was living with my wise old grandmother from 1965-1973, one of my “chores around the house” was pruning the billions and billions and billions of oleanders forming a fence around our property. I hated those things (which is why I have never had oleanders on any of my properties) because I was severely sensitive to oleander sap. I quickly learned to wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and gloves when pruning those blasted things. Hmmm. Deep south Texas and a teenager working outside with long shirts and long pants. Hated it.

Another plant that I am overly sensitive to is actually a plant genus: Euphorbia. Some of you might know that the common Christmas poinsettia is a Euphorbia, Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias grow year-round here in San Diego and can get about 20 feet tall, making a beautiful statement at Christmas time when they bloom.

Poinsettia

Another common plant around our homes is the “Crown of Thorns,” Euphorbia millii.

Crown of Thorns

My wise old grandmother also had poinsettias and crowns of thorns, both planted along the driveway. Well, guess where this tall, skinny dude had his basketball court? Inevitably a missed basket would result in the ball bouncing over to the poinsettias and crowns of thorns, and breaking branches, getting sticky sap all over my basketball. Poinsettias and crowns of thorns were also on my “Never in my own yard” list. Because poinsettias and crowns of thorns are succulents, though, I have had them in my home and on my property simply because I plant them out of the way and forget about them. They can survive on the water that Mother & Father Nature provide them, and since they are out of the way, I don’t have to prune them. The Crown of Thorns picture above is from one of my past gardens.

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993 and started exploring, I found a plant that grows wild, is very beautiful, and has a heavenly scent, especially at dusk: Datura.

Datura

Datura

I never saw Datura in a nursery, though. Eventually I found out why. It is very poisonous, especially their flowers and seeds, and people like me can develop a severe skin rash when the milky white sap gets on our skin. Their common name is Devil’s Trumpet.

Related to Datura is a plant that IS found in nurseries although it is just as poisonous: Brugmansia.

The Brugmansia’s common name is Angel’s Trumpet. The Angel’s Trumpet in the picture above is from one of my past gardens. It bloomed year-round, so the scent outside the master bedroom window was out of this world. I think the window was always open at dusk to let the fragrance in.

Brugmansia’s are difficult to find in nurseries and are usually carried by the smaller mom-and-pop nurseries. I recently found a small yellow one that is now outside waiting for me to transfer it from nursery pot to the ground, although the longer it waits, the more I’m thinking about putting it in a large glazed pot.

A side story to Datura and Brugmansia is that if the flowers are boiled in water, they create a “tea” that, when drank, creates a “natural high”—delusional and hallucinogenic euphoria. Sadly, this natural high can paralyze the vocal chords; cause liver failure, dry mouth, blurred vision, and incontinence; and even cause death. About every five years or so, some high school students here in the San Diego area learn the hard way about getting a natural high from these two plants. Animals, especially dogs and cattle, also are affected negatively when they eat the plants.

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Out & About—Santa Cruz sea lions

Out & About The World

If I’m ever not able to get around on my own, just sit me in a chair on the Santa Cruz Wharf and let me watch and listen to sea lions all day. I think these creatures are just amazing and magical. Watch in full-screen mode and turn the volume up.

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Picture of the Moment—Point of Impact

Picture of the Moment

Pelicans are one of my favorite birds to watch in the wild.

I grew up in Kingsville, Texas, (Gulf Coast) and spent a lot of time surfing on South Padre Island National Seashore during high school. I have lived here in San Diego since April 1993. I have been able to spend a lot of time watching pelicans and taking their pictures.

I have a few billion pictures of them flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Until this past weekend in Santa Cruz, California, I had never seen a pelican fishing. Usually they just sit around on shore, or a pier, or a fishing site, waiting for scraps from fisherpeople. One can often see crowds of them following a fishing boat returning from the Pacific Ocean.

In Santa Cruz, they weren’t waiting around for anything. They were doing their own fishing, and I caught one of them at the end of his dive, at the point of impact with the water. Click on the picture below and you can see very clearly the fish that Mr. Pelican had his eye on.

Point of Impact

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