Category Archives: My wise old grandmother

From my wise old grandmother: “Practice makes perfect!”

My wise old grandmother

Many decades ago when I was still a teenager and wondering what my place was in the world, Philippe Petit (b. 1949) was walking a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City….. 1,350 feet above the ground…. August 7, 1974. He did it 8 times in 45 minutes.

I thought to myself, “How do you practice for that?”

Well, yesterday, I found the new generation of high wire artists practicing their craft:

Mission Bay, San Diego CA

Mission Bay, San Diego CA So.

There ya go.

You can practice, which is good, because as my wise old grandmother always told me when I was practicing the violin:

“Practice makes perfect!”

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Do not throw things away! There is no away!

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother was the champion of re-purposing. She regularly tell us not to throw something away before she had a chance to examine it. Her motto: “Do not throw things away! There is no away!”

Tin cans became holders for pins, needles, bobby pins, paper clips, buttons, spools of thread. Glass jars, too.

Anything that needed refrigeration came in Mason jars. Once those jars were empty, granddad would drill two holes in the lid, attach it to the underside of a shelf in the garage using two screws, and then screw the jar onto the lid. His jars contained nails, screws of every shape and size, washers and nuts to fit all those screws, bolts, wire….

Re-purposing didn’t end with the small stuff. One weekend granddad replaced the bathroom toilet and bathtub with modern ones. Both the toilet and the old claw-foot bathtub got re-purposed as outdoor container gardens.

Recently I was walking around an older San Diego neighborhood when I came across a re-purposed claw-foot bathtub, just like my wise old grandmother would have done it:

Re-purposed claw-foot bathtub

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Add laughter to each and every day

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother taught me to add laughter to each day, “even if it includes laughing at yourself.” I always have tried to do that, and although I have no problem laughing at some of my antics, other people and their antics often put me to shame.

One of the weekly tabloids here in San Diego, The San Diego Reader, has a column titled “News of the Weird.” It never fails to make me laugh. Following are some of the snippets from the past couple of years that I haven’t shared before.

  1. When you don’t have anything else to do, complain.
    Steve Crow from right here in San Diego revealed that he complained 20,068 times in 2016, all about the same thing, noise from the San Diego International Airport which is close to his home, and to the same agency, the City of San Diego. He said that he had “given up.”
    I don’t know when Steve bought his home, but for about the last twenty years real estate disclosures in the area where he lives have included airport noise. Sadly, too many people don’t read those real estate transfer disclosures.
  2. Don’t piss off your relatives lest your legacy be a little less than desired.
    According to the obituary of Leslie Charping of Galveston TX, he lived “much longer than he deserved” and his life “served no obvious purpose.” The obituary went on to reference his “bad parenting” and his “being generally offensive,” closing with this gem: “Leslie’s passing proves that evil does in fact die.”
  3. Make sure you give 30 days notice.
    Dennis Hanel died in January. His family was informed by Seattle’s Real Estate Services rental agency that his security deposit would not be returned because Hanel had not provided the 30 days notice of termination that was required by his lease. The State of Washington only requires that landlords provide an explanation of why they are not returning deposits.
  4. I want to move to France.
    Thirty-five train stations in France not have kiosks dispensing short stories and poetry to pass the time. Free! Reading materials come in reading times of 1, 3, or 5 minutes.
  5. Read the fine print!
    Jamie Richardson of Canada had pet insurance for her 7-year-old dog so she filed a claim when her dog torn a ligament in a hind leg. Petsecure, Canada’s largest pet insurer declined to pay because the policy didn’t cover dog injuries from “jumping, running, slipping, tripping or playing.” In other words, being a dog was not covered.
    After adverse publicity, Petsecure did pay up.
  6. Practice, practice, practice.
    The high school in Camden CT was placed in lockdown in December 2016 because a senior student was seen running zig-zag through the hallways, swinging his arms and leaping into the air. Police were able to determine that the senior was simply practicing his basketball moves, including dunking the basketball.
  7. Thieving cat.
    Aldeburgh Golf Club in England had to introduce a special rule allowing a no-stroke ball drop for players who had their balls stolen on the 14th fairway by Peter Bryson’s cat Merlin. Reports are that Merlin was successful in making an average of six balls disappear each day.
  8. Justice served?
    Gary Durham of Plant City FL was killed in a road-rage incidence in August 2016. Mr. Durham had spent 10 years in prison for causing the death of another driver in a road-rage incident in 2001.
  9. Language is fluid.
    The New York Times Style Book now accepts the word “farting” in formal copy.
  10. Once might not be enough.
    Mauricio Morales-Caceres, 24, was sentenced to life in prison in Maryland after being convicted of fatally stabbing his friend…. 89 times.
    With friends like him, you don’t need enemies.
  11. Priorities.
    Police in Broome, Australia, stopped a man whose several children, including an infant, were unrestrained in his car. Apparently there was no room since cartons of beer were buckled into all the car seats.
  12. Do not discriminate.
    Right here in San Diego, the City issued a new communications style book for city workers. In an attempt to avoid gender discrimination, one directive stated that America’s “Founding Fathers” should be referred to only as “Founders.”
    Yep, that will help.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Be a unique star

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother always said, “If you don’t get up early, you won’t see the sun rise.” She was always up before sunrise. I wasn’t far behind her. Here is this morning’s sunrise through the dirty window of my home office in La Mesa CA:

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

With that out of the way….

A few more quips from my wise old grandmother:

“If you’re not sleeping with someone, you don’t know what they are thinking.”

“Ten percent of the people will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people will love you or hate you based on your actions and words. So be nice.”

“Children aren’t born with hatred in their hearts. Mom and dad teach them that, usually through religion.”

I believe she was right on all counts.

I have been a member of a home inspector trade association for 13 years. There are about 10,000 members. I led a marketing seminar at its national convention in 2007, which is when a very significant member of the association found out I was gay. He wasn’t happy, telling me that he always thought gays should be killed. I brushed it off , thinking that if he got to know a gay person, he would change his mind. Apparently that has not worked.

I have had significant interaction with that person over the past nine years. A couple of days ago I was on the association’s message board and all sorts of Trump-approved hate was spewing. It’s allowed on the message board under the guise of free speech. He was participating and left a comment stating that maybe now that Trump was president, gays, illegal immigrants, and blacks would be killed. “Can’t go wrong with that.”

That definitely caused me to rethink my association, and I have decided to move on. However, that also means that my latest venture, House Key News, is being put on the back burner because I believe my main target audience all are Trump supporters. I’m not going to intentionally associate with those kind of people, especially now that they apparently have approve to spew their hatred in public.

My fallback is Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. I have let it slip over the past year, but a recent sale a few days ago has encouraged me to make it numero uno.

House Key News had a main target audience of about 20,000 people—home inspectors. Photographic Art has a main target audience of about 3,000,000 people—Realtors, loan agents, title agents, and escrow agents. They can use Photographic Art as unique close-of-escrow gifts instead of the standard $50 gas or restaurant card, a plant, a bottle of wine or champagne, etc.

Photographic Art also can be used for birth gifts, birthday gifts, graduation gifts, marriage gifts, divorce gifts, new business gifts, anniversary gifts, just because gifts, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Be a unique star

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Animal rescue and sanctuary support

I livew in my own little world

My wise old grandmother taught me to share.

Second Chance Dog Rescue logoI have decided to share the profits from the sale of my Photographic Art with animal rescue groups and wildlife sanctuaries throughout the United States, as long as they are charitable organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code.

I will share in your name if you contact me to let me know when and what Photographic Art you purchased. Email me at

I also will share with your preferred rescue group or sanctuary; again, just let me know. Otherwise, I will share with my preferred rescue groups and sanctuaries.

the cat house on the kingsMy Photographic Art is available at Fine Art America, a print-on-demand site with a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. So if you don’t like your product for any reason, or no reason at all, simply return it and get your money back. That’s why I located my galleries there.

Lions Tigers & BearsPhotographic Art provides beautiful, unique, long-lasting, personal, and thoughtful gifts that are being used in the real estate industry as close-of-escrow gifts, and as special occasion gifts such as birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, and graduations. Attach a personal note or your business card to the gift and be remembered forever and ever!

Photographic Art has been purchased worldwide (Christchurch, New Zealand, and Paris, France) as well as throughout the United States.

Blind Cat Rescue and SanctuaryThere are many Photographic Art products available at Fine Art America, including prints, throw pillows, greeting cards, and phone cases.

On pillows, greeting cards, and phone cases, I will share 50% of the profits; my profit on your purchase of these items is minimal though.

On prints, regardless of what size or type of print you buy, I will share $40 since my share of your purchase is always $99.

Angels Among Us Pet RescueFine Art America’s money-back guarantee, and the fact that they pay on the 15th of each month, means that I don’t get paid immediately. Thus, there could be a 59-day delay between your purchase and when I get paid, meaning that donations to our animal friends won’t be immediate either. For example, if you buy Photographic Art on August 16, the 30-day money-back guarantee expires on September 16, and I would get paid on October 15.

Each day, over on Facebook, I will feature a rescue group or sanctuary and dedicate any Photographic Art sales that day to that specific organization.

Rescue groups and sanctuaries are invited to send to me a blog post about them for posting here in my blog and to be a featured organization on my Facebook time line.

I also do custom work using YOUR photos. Contact me by email.

Go now to my galleries at Fine Art America.

photograhic art taking pictures making art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Making a difference begins with me

My wise old grandmother

Perhaps the most important aspect of life that I learned from my wise old grandmother was to care—about people, fauna, flora, and the environment.

Whenever I complained about not having new clothes for the start of the new school year, she would say, “There’s always someone worse off than you.”

When the three-legged alley cat made a pass through our back yard, my wise old grandmother was following it with a bowl of water and a bowl of food, trying to get it to stop for a meal, perhaps make our house its home.

She’s the one who taught me that a weed is something that is growing where you don’t want it to grow, so instead of pulling it and throwing it away, transplant it to where you do want it to grow. If wildlife of any kind gets inside, move it back outside. That included spiders, snakes, rodents, birds….

She was conserving before it was fashionable to conserve. She used to follow us around the house turning off the lights that we had left on (“If it’s on, it’s using electricity!”), knocking on the bathroom door to tell us that we were taking too long in the shower and using too much water. She put a gallon jug of water in the toilet tank so that it would use less water.

I learned from her to keep a five-gallon bucket by the bathtub to save the cold water while waiting for the hot water to arrive. That bucket of water would then be used to water flowers, bushes, and trees around the yard.

11141 Valley Lights Drive, Mount Helix, La Mesa CAWhich reminds me of the time when Jim and I were selling our Mount Helix home (picture►) back in 2001. I had buckets in all the bathrooms to save cold water while waiting on the hot water. I then watered two acres of plants and filled all of our fountains and ponds.

When we went to sell, one of the Realtors walked around the house to see what we were asking her to sell. Once she finished her walk-through, she told us that in order to get the most money for the house we should fix all the roof leaks before putting the house on the market. I asked her, “What roof leaks?” She said, “Well, I see all the buckets in the bathrooms which usually mean roof leaks.” I had to explain to her what water conservation was….

Alpha Phi OmegaThroughout my life I have tried to care for others less fortunate than me, to care for unwanted or injured animals, to care for the flora that use carbon dioxide which humans breathe out for photosynthesis, creating oxygen which humans breathe in, to care for the planet. My journey began with my wise old grandmother, continued in high school with Circle K, and then with Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity at Texas A&M University.

Fire on the freewayAfter college, my involvement included organizations that cared for people (soup kitchens, blood drives, Special Olympics, women & children abuse shelters), fauna (animal shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries), flora (botanical and community gardens), and the environment (planting trees and native vegetation after natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires).

My wise old grandmother also taught me that making a difference begins with me. If you would like to do something to make a difference, here is a list of 100 things you can do to make a difference.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (7-18-15)—Will we become maze runners?


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts


Today is Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday, love!

Happy Birthday!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


We have rain, thunder, and lightning here in San Diego for Jim’s birthday.

I reminder readers of the following facts:

It’s July.
Middle of July.
In San Diego.
Southern California.
It rarely rains here, much less in July.
The last time it rained in July was 1992.
I was still in College Station, Texas, then.
This is completely unacceptable.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


Jim is off work this weekend so we are having a birthday weekend instead of just a birthday.

Yesterday evening we went to the San Diego Night Time Zoo. That’s when the Zoo stays open an extra four hours, until 9:00 p.m. Along with entertainment (music, magic….) throughout the Zoo (wonder how the animals like that….), it’s a great time to see some animals that only come out or become active at dusk. Such as the Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda).

img_3862 fennic fox zoo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At a maximum weight of 3½ pounds, the Fennec Fox is the smallest canine in the world. It lives in the Sahara Desert of North Africa. Its coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to high-temperature, low-water, desert environments, and its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground. It mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds, and is itself eaten by the eagle owl.

Milky Eagle Owl

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


The Serval (Leptailurus serval), a small kitty cat but bigger than domestic kitty cats, also was active last night.

img_3914 serval zoo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Serval is a slender cat with long legs and a fairly short tail with a maximum weight of 40 lbs. It also is native to Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


The Serval at the Zoo is a mommy. Two little ones born earlier this year. They were just as playful as all little kitties are. Jim and I stood there for thirty minutes watching the little ones play with each other and with their toys, although I think their favorite toy was a pine cone that had fallen from the tree.

img_3912 serval kitten zoo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


atlas shruggedThis past week I watched three futuristic movies based on a book that Republicans seem enthralled with: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. “Atlas Shrugged,” along with her previous book “The Fountainhead,” developed the philosophical system now known as Objectivism.

According to Wikipedia, “Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.”

Are you as tired from reading that as I am?

My wise old grandmotherOne of the things that my wise old grandmother (picture ►) taught me 40 years ago is that if you want to see how something will work in reality, take it to its extreme. That has always worked for me, and I think it works with Objectivism, Capitalism, and Socialism.

Objectivism seems to be where the Republicans want to take us, privatizing schools, roads, libraries, food (Monsanto comes to mind) and everything else in the world, which pretty much would be total and complete Objectivism with the rich controlling anything and everything.

Unbridled Capitalism comes very close to Objectivism, in my opinion, but I don’t know of any country anywhere, past or present, that subscribes to unbridled Capitalism. Rather, in capitalist economies, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which they exchange assets, products, and services. Note the word “typically” there. Governments often get involved in capitalism to prevent things like gouging during natural disasters whereby prices for food and water are not allowed to increase exorbitantly due to demand caused by the situation.

Lack of any government at all would, I think, result in Anarchism, no better than Objectivism or Capitalism.

atlas shrugged filmYes, life is not fair, but do we really have to capitalize (pun intended) on that unfairness? Surely intelligent humans can find a happy middle ground that would allow the rich to stay rich, the middle class to have the opportunity to become rich, and government to be able to provide for all of its citizens in terms of transportation and education but also including the unemployed, the sick, the homeless, and the hungry.

I can highly recommend the three movies, “Atlas Shrugged,” “Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike,” and “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?”.


maze runnerOnce you finish those three moves, go a little further to the extreme and watch “The Maze Runner.” All four movies also provide a view into society and what the future might hold as the climate changes, manmade or not.

However, if you’re still confused about the role of mankind in climate change, think about this:

The Holocene interglacial period, which is what we are in now, began about 11,000 years ago. The population of Earth at that time was about a million people. Now fast forward to July 18, 2015, where the population is 7½ billion people. Climate change happens. We know that. With all we are doing in terms of manufacturing and such, and the results of 7½ billion people using the products of that manufacturing, can we really say that we are not having some effect on the climate of the Earth, perhaps causing climate change to get here sooner rather than later? Can we do something, or will be become maze runners?


San Diego gay pride paradeThis is Gay Pride weekend here in San Diego. Started with the Stonewall Rally yesterday evening, continues with a huge 3-hour long parade today followed by a Festival, and continuing with the Festival tomorrow. Parties are everywhere, including Gay Pride parties at the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.

Jim and I are going to the San Diego Botanic Garden today and to the Gay Pride Festival tomorrow.

Rainbow balloons at San Diego Gay Pride

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Marriage? Anniversary? Birthday? Other special event?
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