Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Photographer career began in sixth grade in 1966.

A Piece Missing—They probably would have been called nightmares!

A Piece Missing

Relevant music for your reading enjoyment:

“Mad World” by Tears for Fears, 1982

“Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, 2001
(from the movie “Donnie Darko”)

“Mad World” by Adam Lambert, 2009
(from the eighth season of “American Idol”)

I never had a dream that I can remember until a few months ago. Now it seems I’m dreaming every night, and I remember the dreams, and the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had….

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother used to find me awake in my room in the middle of the night, with a flashlight, reading. That was shortly after she adopted me in December 1965, just a few months short of me turning 11. At first she got upset, and punished me. However, after many nights of catching me not sleeping, she finally took me to the doctor, the same doctor (Dr. Newell) who had brought me into this world on March 11, 1955, at 11:58 p.m. After an extensive physical exam, including my first check for hernias (I will always remember the first Zoey the Cool Cat on the bookshelftime someone else touched my junk!), he diagnosed me as “a catnapper.”

I have been a catnapper all my life, but I have learned to use it to my advantage. I used to tell my bosses that if they needed anything done overnight that I could make it happen. Eventually, bosses were approaching me at 4:45 p.m. with work that needed to be done by 5:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. for our East Coast clients). Russel was on it! No problem!

Using it to my advantage didn’t mean that I was happy being a catnapper. I spent many thousands of dollars at Boston Medical Center, Houston Medical Center, and UCLA Medical Center trying to find out what was wrong with me that I couldn’t sleep more than three hours at a time, never reaching REM sleep, and never dreaming.

Finally, I got involved in a sleep study here in San Diego THAT PAID ME instead of me paying them. After nine consecutive days (two weekends and a week) of sleeping in a laboratory, the doctors diagnosed me as a “polyphasic sleeper.”

WTF

A catnapper!

Prior to 1989, we were catnappers. Now we are polyphasic sleepers.

I’m still a polyphasic sleeper, getting my 8-10 hours of sleep each day in increments of 30 minutes or so every 4-6 hours. However, when I finally hit the sack for the last time, around midnight to 2:00 a.m., I am able to sleep for 5-6 hours. I’m fairly certain that my newfound sleep and dreams are related to new medications.

That means that I enter REM sleep and get to dream.

And the dreams are vivid!

Firestarter, by Stephen KingThey seem to be based on movies and TV shows I have enjoyed, especially Stephen King movies, science fiction movies (Star Trek, Star Wars), TV shows (The Time Tunnel, and back to Star Trek).

And I always die.

And I always wake up the moment I’m killed.

And I always remember them.

Pretty cool….

Although I will admit that I’m probably lucky that I didn’t have these dreams when I was a child. They probably would have been called nightmares!

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

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Out & About—The Flower Fields open today!

Out & About San Diego

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad open today and remain open through May 12.

Their specialization is the giant ranunculus, which they grow on about fifty acres. There are another five acres of other flowers: roses, petunias, columbines, water lilies, geraniums, sweet peas, poinsettias, cacti & succulents, and more.

If you’re in the San Diego area during this time, I can highly recommend a visit to The Flower Fields.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

There are lots of activities for the family, as well. They often have a maze for the children that is created out of tall walls of growing sweet peas plants, all in flower.

Instead of being forced to go through a gift show on your way out, you’re forced to go through what I believe is Armstrong Garden Centers’ biggest and best nursery.

If you don’t spend the whole day in The Flower Fields—I do!—there is a lot more to see and do just around the corner:

  • LegolandLegoland with its awesome SeaLife Aquarium
  • Museum of Making Music where budding musicians, as well as musicians in full flower (puns intended!), can play drums, guitars, and quite a few other instruments
  • Green Dragon Tavern & Museum with great New England cuisine and a Revolutionary War Museum.

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

Out & About—San Diego’s snow-capped mountains

Out & About San Diego

I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. It was to be my last stop on my attempt to find a place to live outside of the Great Nation of Texas. I considered myself retired from all previous professions, so I spent my time visiting all the beaches between Mexico and Los Angeles. Gawd I was having a good time.

One day, while playing beach volleyball with some friends and new acquaintances, someone suggested going skiing. Well, we’re at the beach so what could be more logical than hopping in a boat and going skiing on the great Pacific Ocean. Ha! That’s not what the suggester had in mind. He wanted to go snow skiing. Uh, we’re in San Diego. There’s no snow anywhere for miles around.

I was only partially right. Snow and ski resorts were only 90 miles away. I had been snow skiing several times before so I was game. We headed to Big Bear, California, and spent the rest of the day snow skiing.

Several years later, I saw a picture of downtown San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background. I thought it had been photoshopped until I saw it for myself a few years later.

I have been trying for 23 years to get my own picture of San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background. Absent an airplane, helicopter, or hot-air balloon, the only place to get such pictures was Point Loma, about 40 miles due west of the mountains.

For me to get such a picture, not only would it have to snow down to about 1,800 feet above sea level, but it would have to be a beautifully clear day to see all that way through clouds, fog, and smog. Although it snows down to 1,800 feet every five years or so, clear days while the snow exists are few and far between.

When I woke the morning of February 22, 2019, I learned that it had snowed in Alpine, just 7 miles east of where I live, and right at 1,800 feet above sea level. I knew the higher-elevation mountains would be covered in snow, lots of snow.

I can see the mountains from my house, and they had lots of snow on them. It was a beautifully clear day at 7:00 a.m., so I immediately headed to Point Loma. The result of my trip is the three pictures below.

San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background

San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background

The first picture was taken from Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. The second picture was taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, also on Point Loma. Here’s another picture which includes part of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery:

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, downtown San Diego, and snow-capped mountains

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

Out & About—Frosty Burger in Pine Valley

Out & About San Diego

If you ever get to Pine Valley, California, about 40 miles east of downtown San Diego, I can highly recommend stopping at Frosty Burger for the best burgers in San Diego County.

They have no indoor seating; it’s all outside so you can enjoy the San Diego sunshine and the smell of the pine trees.

Sadly, they were closed the day I was there.

I’m not sure why.

Frosty Burger in Pine Valley, California

Frosty Burger in Pine Valley, California

Frosty Burger in Pine Valley, California

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

Out & About—Snow in the San Diego mountains!

Out & About San Diego

It snowed in Julian last night, and since Julian is a mere 30 miles from me, I took a snow morning today to head on out there.

Sadly, I only made it to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park because the road between there and Julian was closed.

Lots of snow action at the Park, though, and my 2017 Toyota Corolla is a snow virgin no more!

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

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Out & About—Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Out & About San Diego

It’s no secret that I love visiting plant nurseries, and when the plant nursery is close to the beaches, it just makes it all that much better.

Such is the case with Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California.

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents is a specialty retail nursery owned by Jeff Moore. It’s been one of my favorite nurseries since I first discovered it back in 2003.

Jeff Moore, owner of Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

You never know what you’ll find on any one visit, so it’s important to go on a regular basis. For example, I recently found the following creatures which could be useful in keeping evil spirits away from your plants…. Maybe snails, slugs, gophers, moles, rabbits, and ground squirrels, too!

Keeping the evil spirits away

Keeping the evil spirits away

Keeping the evil spirits away

Check out the huge collection of beautiful plants:

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

You can find common succulents, colorful, collector, small or large, specimen plants, collector plants, lots of the same plants for mass plantings. Jeff also can help you with your landscape design or something as small as a beautiful dish garden. Heck, he even dug up a plant that was in the ground because I had fallen in love with it!

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

Solana Succulents has been in the same location for over twenty years, so Jeff knows what he’s doing and is always ready to help you with your plants. It’s a walk-in retail operation only, so there’s no wholesale and no mail order/shipping.

Jeff Moore also happens to be an author:

Under The Spell Of Succulents, by Jeff Moore

Soft Succulents, by Jeff Moore

Aloes And Agaves In Cultivation, by Jeff Moore

His books are available on the Solana Succulents website, and he has a fourth book, Spiny Succulents, coming out this summer. If you can’t get by the nursery, buy a book. You’ll enjoy them! Lots of beautiful, colorful pictures!

If you are going to the nursery, print the 10% discount coupon below and take it with you. The coupon has no expiration date, so come back here and print more as you need them.

Solana Succulents 10% discount coupon

Twenty-five more pictures because, well, a picture is worth a thousand words. So here’s 25,000 words in a slide show:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California

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

Double R Creations—The Spiral Aloe

Double R Creations

I grew one of these in Houston & College Station from 1977 to 1993.

Aloe polyphylla - Spiral Aloe

It is awesome, especially when it matures, which is when it will look like this:

Aloe polyphylla - Spiral Aloe

Those are Aloe polyphylla, the Spiral Aloe. They seem to be hard to find in the age of the Internet but one now has joined my collection.

People say I won’t be able to grow it out here in the East San Diego County boondocks because it gets too hot and dry. I don’t think it gets any hotter and drier than Houston or College Station, but I guess we’ll find out.

As an aside, my birth mother also told me when I was 10, and she was giving me up for adoption to my wise old grandmother, that I would never amount to a thing…………..

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